Jennifer Burns | Monday, 7 May 2012 - Friday, 11 May 2012
Dr. Jennifer Burns, University of Alaska-Anchorage Professor of Biology, traveled from Anchorage, Alaska to Memphis, Tennessee, to participate in a week’s worth of education and public outreach activities with Alex Eilers of the Pink Palace Museum. Alex and Dr. Burns had participated in an Antarctic expedition together studying Weddell seals in the Ross Sea through the PolarTREC Program. You can read more about their expedition here: http://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/weddell-seals-in-the-ross-sea. Dr. Burns’ visit served as an excellent follow up to the initial public and educational outreach component which was initiated by the PolarTREC expedition.
Alex had a very full week of activities set up for Dr. Burns. Many activities took place at the Pink Palace Museum and were focused around a program which they created together called “Passport to Antarctica – Where Adventure Meets Seal Science”. This program uses actual artifacts, specimens, photographs, videos and a life-sized stuffed Weddell seal to transform the classroom into an Antarctic field experience to provide students with a glimpse of what it is like to be in the field.
Throughout the week, Dr. Burns and Alex visited many local schools including Campus Elementary, St. John, Jackson Elementary, and Grahamwood Elementary to present their program. They also visited and presented the program to the CLUE students at Coleman Elementary and Keystone Elementary Schools. This program proved extremely beneficial for the students and allowed them the opportunity to interact with an actual Antarctic scientist on a personal level. All of the schools selected to participate in a follow-up visit were chosen based upon the school’s level of participation in the initial program.
Dr. Burns also participated in live TV interviews with the “Good Morning Memphis Show”, Memphis’ “Live at 9” morning show and ABC’s Memphis’ WPTY Midday Show. For their final Memphis presentation, Dr. Burns and Alex gave a presentation in a local retirement community.
By the end of the week, many residents of all ages living in Memphis know a lot more about Antarctica and Weddell seals!