STEM at the Poles! PolarTREC in the News

By: Judy Fahnestock, PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating) Project Coordinator at ARCUS.

It's been a busy season for the NSF-funded program STEM at the Poles! Research Experiences for Formal and Informal Educators in the Polar Regions.

In September, STEM at the Poles! (PolarTREC) sent educator Katie Gavenus on the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition. MOSAiC is an expedition aboard the German research icebreaker Polarstern, in which hundreds of scientists from 19 countries will spend a year drifting through the Arctic Ocean—trapped in ice. The goal of the expedition is to intensely study the Arctic to gain fundamental insights that will help us better understand the Arctic ecosystem and the interconnectedness with global climate change. You can learn more about what Katie learned while drifting for six weeks in the Arctic Ocean here.

Recently, three PolarTREC educators each found themselves at McMurdo Field Station in Antarctica at the same time! Teachers Bridget Ward (Massachusetts), Denise Hardoy (California), and educator Amy Osborne (California) all were working on different NSF-funded projects with overlapping field seasons. Bridget Ward (Weddell Seals: Growing Up on Ice) worked with a team studying Weddell seal pups on the ice, while Amy Osborne (Thermal Sensitivity of Embryos and Larvae of Antarctic Marine Ectotherms) and Denise Hardoy (Antarctic Fish Development Under Future Ocean Conditions) are both working on projects in the cold ocean waters of Antarctica.

McMurdo Station, Antarctica - 2019 PolarTREC Teachers Denise Hardoy, Bridgette Ward, and Amy Osborne. Photo courtesy of Denise Hardoy, ARCUS. McMurdo Station, Antarctica - 2019 PolarTREC Teachers Denise Hardoy, Bridgette Ward, and Amy Osborne. Photo courtesy of Denise Hardoy, ARCUS.

Right before Thanksgiving 2019, PolarTREC will send Jocelyn Argueta (also known as Jargie the Science Girl) to the South Pole to work with the IceCube and the Askaryan Radio Array 2019 research team. Jocelyn is a performer-scientist who works with a theater group to create "Jargie the Science Girl", an educational science show that tours to venues nationwide. Jocelyn is looking forward to showcasing Antarctic research (and beauty!) in curriculum used for future performances.

A big congratulations to two PolarTREC teachers who each won Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) this year. The PAEMST Award is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through 12th grade science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. The PolarTREC recipients were Svea Anderson from Arizona (2018, Shrubs, Snow and Nitrogen in the Arctic) and Dolores (Lollie) Garay from Texas (Nitrogen in the Arctic Ocean Ecosystem 2011, and Oden Antarctic Expedition 2007). Both teachers have credited the PolarTREC program with advancing their skills as teachers, and as an important program that helped give rise to the award-winning teachers that they are today. Congratulations Svea and Lollie!

About the Author

Judy FahnestockJudy Fahnestock is a Project Coordinator for ARCUS' PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating) program. Including time worked with PolarTREC, she has worked over a decade for ARCUS as support staff for programs such as SEARCH, The Arctic in the Classroom, Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook, and Arctic Visiting Speakers Program.