The Arctic in the Classroom (TAC): Partnering Scientists, Educators, & Communities to Improve Arctic Education

TAC Updates

Since its inception, there have been three publications produced about The Arctic in the Classroom project.
1. ARCUS hosted the Make an Impact Workshop at ASSW 2016. This was the kick-off event for The Arctic in the classroom project. A detailed workshop report can be found at Make an Impact Workshop Information.
2. The June 2016 Witness the Arctic included a short article about TAC.
3. Writer-in-Residence, Erica Watson, wrote an essay about the Make an Impact Workshop in March 2016. The essay can be viewed online at The Arctic Institute.

About The Arctic In the Classroom Program

Teaching on the beach in Barrow, Alaska.Teaching on the beach in Barrow, Alaska. Photo by Elizabeth Eubanks (PolarTREC 2008), Courtesy of ARCUS

ARCUS is excited to bring a new program into its portfolio for 2016. The Arctic in the Classroom (TAC) program and associated workshop is partnering scientists, educators, & communities to improve Arctic education.

The Alaskan Arctic is a science-rich region with compelling natural landscapes, ecosystems, and people. Arctic science, however, is often not communicated outside the walls of research institutions and public knowledge of the Arctic is poor. At the same time, U.S. students are falling behind in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and teachers are struggling to develop curriculum that engages students and meets new teaching standards. This program provides a nexus between these issues, with activities targeted to educate K-12 teachers, students, communities, and others about the Arctic. In addition to increasing knowledge about the Arctic, this project brings Arctic scientists together with educators who have expertise in communicating complex concepts and facilitates effective learning through the use of real-world Arctic science.

We aim to bring together the best practices in facilitating successful citizen science projects and community-based monitoring to support the collaboration of students, teachers, and researchers in arctic communities.

What is citizen science?

Citizen science is the practice of involving non-specialists in the collection of data or recording observations that contribute to the authentic and meaningful body of science. Community based monitoring can be similar.

What is community based monitoring?

Stakeholders such as the public, professional observers, and community members may assist in the collection of data and observations, the monitoring projects themselves are driven by needs and values of the communities to which the monitoring or research is relevant.

ARCUS will identify tools within the best practices of how to administer these two types of inclusive science practices, with the goal of developing a framework for new and experienced researchers to engage arctic communities in their work, and offer a window for students and teachers into the relevancy of science projects in their communities.

Program Goals and Objectives

Photo by Elizabeth Webb, Courtesy of John Wood (PolarTREC 2011), Courtesy of ARCUSPhoto by Elizabeth Webb, Courtesy of John Wood (PolarTREC 2011), Courtesy of ARCUS

  1. Actively engage Arctic K-12 students, teachers, and community members with local research projects through a citizen science framework.

    • Increase participating student and community members awareness of the Arctic, its changing environment, and Arctic research through active engagement in research projects.
    • Increase participating teachers’ awareness of the Arctic, the changing environment, and Arctic research through active engagement in research projects.
    • Increase participating researchers’ understanding of citizen science and the relevancy within the larger body of science practice and knowledge.
    • Increase particpating researchers’ interest and willingness to engage in citizen science and communities where their research takes place.
  2. Manage the teams’ collaborative work resulting in K-12 Arctic-focused educational resources; based on citizen science contribution in research.

    • Improve the use of quality-assured data sets, collected through citizen science, by teachers, students, and researchers.
    • Support the development of online K-12 educational resource(s) that utilize these data sets.
  3. Manage dissemination of Arctic-focused educational resources and make these available to teachers in Alaska and nationwide.

    • Increase the number of teachers and researchers that utilize Arctic-focused education resources.
  4. Develop ARCUS role in researchers meeting outreach goals, including citizen science projects as proof of concept.

    • Improve ARCUS-branded, institutionalized practices learned through project.
    • Develop and disseminate products that reflect lessons learned.
    • Increase researcher, agency, and institution awareness of ARCUS capacities.

Activities

Advisory Committee

An advisory committee will be assembled to review the program goals and tasks as part of the overall evaluation plan. Advisory committee members will be experts and practitioners in the fields citizen science, community-based monitoring, and project management.

Collaboration Workshop

The goal of the workshop is to bring together local teachers with Arctic researchers to raise awarness of citizen science and community-based monitoring in Arctic communities. We aim to begin collaborative development of STEM educational resources related to Arctic research priorities.
When: March 13-15, 2016
Where: University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska
Find more information at The Arctic in the Classroom Workshop page.

Teams in the Field

Through the Make an Impact workshop we aim to identify the interested teachers and researchers, along with community members to start creating the local teams. These teams will do site visitation and presentations to the community on their work. If appropriate, data collection through citizen science teams may begin in Fall 2016 but more likely Spring/Summer of 2016 due to field research scheduled.

Sustained Training and Support

To foster the development of high-quality resources and products, and to build sustainable collaborations between Arctic researchers, teachers, and communities, continued training and support will be provided. The support includes:

  • Training teachers about Arctic science.
  • Training scientists how to communicate Arctic science.
  • Connecting with Arctic communities.

Resources and Products

ARCUS is using adaptive management practices to faciltate the developement of resources and products that are most meaningful to the teams that are formed. The project will allow participants the flexibility to design and develop their educational resources to best fit their expertise and need; but we envision that the resources may include:

  • Multimedia resources – videos, multimedia presentations, etc.
  • Citizen science activities – A researcher(s) works with a teacher, classroom, school, and/or community to take local observations and develop a ‘how to’ manual so that other classrooms or schools can replicate the activity.
  • A series of live web events from Arctic scientists into schools and/or communities.

Support for this program is provided by the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS) and applicable community service payments from federal court settlements.