When I think of middle school, I think of purple braces, playing a lot of basketball, and being inspired by my science teachers, Mr. Z and Mr. Serrill. Thanks to these teachers, the most important things I learned in middle school were that science and math are wicked awesome and that I wanted to be an ecologist. 🙂
In Mr. Z’s class we learned about biomes and the life of animals in the tundra. I was captivated and read more about the arctic tundra in a National Geographic magazine sitting under Mr. Z’s window. Still though, the Arctic seemed like a faraway strange place that was completely disconnected from me and my community.
So, when I learned about the possibility of involving a middle school teacher in my research in Greenland, I jumped at the opportunity. If a teacher could do research in the Arctic and teach students about it, the students might gain a better understanding of the world as one system, why the Arctic is important, and how day-to-day science works. Maybe one student will even grow up to be a polar scientist. Just because their teacher cared about immersing students in current scientific research.
Emily Snowden, a science teacher at Crawford Middle School in Lexington, Kentucky, is one of those teachers. Thanks to the support of the PolarTrec program, Emily will be joining me in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland in June. Emily and I wanted to write a short pre-field-season blog, interview style.
Q: Emily, what are your students most excited to have you see or do and share with them?
A: My students view scientist as rock stars. They know they exist, but they have little hope of ever actually interacting or meeting a scientist. They love hearing my stories of past field experience I have had, but these stories are from the past and the research team has moved on. I feel that this opportunity allows my students to get a lot closer and involved with the scientists. With technology advancements such as Skype and the internet they will be able to meet Christine and the team while the research is occurring. They are excited be able to follow along and ask questions instead of me just relaying old information.
Q: I think it’s awesome that you found this opportunity and want to be involved in scientific research. What do you think is the biggest misconception your students, or any middle school students, have about science?
A: I think one big misconception that students have about science is that if you study science it is only to become a doctor. They do not realize all the fields of study that science involves and how many other paths (besides being a doctor) are possible if you study science.
Q: What is one way you are planning to share polar science with your community or school?
A: To create an initial interest in Greenland and to encourage students to follow along with my blog I am having students draw pictures of what they think Greenland looks like on a post card. I am then going to take these postcards to Greenland with me and mail then back to the students. I will write on these postcards to encourage my students to look at my pictures on my journal of what Greenland actually looks like. These post cards will also include postage from Greenland which is neat since most of my kids have never left Lexington, much less the state or country.
We’ll keep you updated! Emily is posting pictures and journal entries to this webpage: http://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/climate-change-and-pollinators-in-the-arctic
In a nutshell: Ecology + Teacher and Outreach + Greenland = We’re psyched for this field season