By: Judy Fahnestock and Janet Warburton, Arctic Research Consortium of the U. S.
For over a decade, ARCUS has administered the PolarTREC - Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating program, an educational program that exposes students to the excitement and diversity of polar science by including their U.S. based teachers in hands-on experiences with researchers working in the Arctic and Antarctica. It's been so successful that it's considered a model program for other educational research experiences. This success can be attributed to a number of factors, including staff management, ongoing funding through the National Science Foundation, and a growing network of supportive and engaged program alumni.
In the past 10 years, PolarTREC has provided over 150 U.S. teachers with this unique opportunity. In turn, those 150 teachers have reached thousands of students both in and out of their classroom. Data collected through the program evaluation demonstrates that these research experiences impact the teachers long after the initial experience ARCUS 2015. Every year, PolarTREC teachers are recognized for their dedication to science education. Many have received awards, are featured in the news and present at local and national meetings. These teachers share their experiences as they happen, and carry a new perspective back to the classroom.
A number of PolarTREC teachers have been featured in news for their achievements in advancing science education:
- North Quincy High School Teacher Cara Pekarcik Southern Ocean Diatoms 2016 was awarded 2018 Massachusetts Teacher of the year.
- Students of teacher Paula Dell Biology of Antarctic Fishes 2011, 2013 from Lindblom Math and Science Academy in Chicago, Illinois have been interviewed on television as well as featured in local papers for creating a "Fish Spy" probe to study fish at the bottom of the ocean in Antarctica. This project was generated through Paula's work in Antarctica with Dr. Kristin O'Brien at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teacher Adeena Teres Operation IceBridge 2017 received special recognition for her participation with the NASA Mission Operation IceBridge. She received a proclamation from Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine for her passion in science and dedication to education; June 2, 2017 was declared Adeena Teres Day in Broward County, Florida.
Kate Miller IceCube Neutrino Observatory 2016 from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia was featured in a Popular Mechanics article about the Antarctica Research Station's Living Quarters. In the article, Kate gives a 20-minute video tour of the South Pole Station.
Sinagua Middle School teacher Jillian Worssam Sea Floor Changes and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current; Bering Sea Ecosystem Study 2008 in Flagstaff, Arizona received the 2017 Coconino County Teacher of the Year and the 2017 Viola Excellence in Science Education.
Cheektowaga Central High School teacher Stan Skotnicki Vegetation Impacts on Permafrost, 2016 took a number of his students to the Western New York (WNY) Youth Climate Action Summit in June held on the Buffalo State campus where students engaged in hands-on inquiry activities related to climate change such measuring greenhouse gases, designing wind turbines, and discussing mitigation strategies for climate change. Stan was selected into the 2017 SUNY Master Teacher Program which celebrates the work of the highest-performing STEM teachers in NY by establishing an expert community dedicated to developing expertise in curriculum and teaching.
Teacher Jamie Esler Drumlin Formation in Iceland, 2013 who teaches at Lake City High School in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho was recently featured in an article in The Washington Post entitled "How to teach kids about climate change where most parents are skeptics".
Teacher Craig Beals Greenland Atmospheric Studies, 2008; 2015 Montana Teacher of the Year) from Billings Senior High in Montana, is currently producing the second season of a science series, "Invisible Labs" as well as being a host for an episode of "Secret Earth" on the History Channel.
For more information and to view the latest reports and articles about PolarTREC teachers, visit the PolarTREC Newsroom. For more information about the PolarTREC program, contact PolarTREC staff at info [at] polartrec.org.