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Welcome to the Arctic Science Project!
Introduction to the Project
The trip was funded by the National Science Foundation and was an International Polar Year project.* In July of 2009, a group of 5 middle school teachers from the Francis Parker Charter School located in Devens MA, took a trip up to Barrow Alaska. The trip was funded by the National Science Foundation. The goal was to collect first hand experience and artifacts that could be used in teaching 7th and 8th graders about the science of climate change with particular reference to its impact on the Arctic region and its people. Three of the teachers teach arts and humanities and were particularly interested in the Inupiat culture and its connections with the environment and how significant climate change might impact important traditions and ways of life. The other two teachers teach math and science and were interested in learning more about the Arctic environment and the current scientific research going on in Barrow in particular with the sea ice and permafrost.
There is nothing quite like visiting a place and talking to the people that live there to get a real feel for what it is like and this was most certainly true for our trip. While away we kept up a blog so that the school community could at least join us virtually. We returned to school laden with artifacts, notes, photos and memories.
Source: Google Earth, 2011
Life in the Arctic Curriculum
Normally our two domains of Arts and Humanities (AH) and math, science and technology (MST) classes are taught separately but the semester following our trip we tried to do things a little differently. The AH domain had a previously planned unit on Native Americans and were intending using the Inupiat culture as the example to kick off the unit. In MST we had already planned a unit on geology of New England during this time -not the easiest topic to connect to climate change and the Arctic. So in we decided to do a special Arctic week at the end of our geology unit that would coincide with when AH was teaching about the Inupiat culture. We focused on the environment and ecology of the Arctic. Students learned about the physical aspects of the Arctic, the climate and the animals that live there and the delicate interconnectedness between the animals and their environment. The result was that students were learning about the polar bear and its dependence on the sea ice in their MST class and then going to their AH class and discovering the importance of polar bear fur in traditional garments and the dangers of meeting a polar bear whilst out hunting bowhead whales!
Climate Change and the Arctic Curriculum
The following year the MST domain did a unit on energy and climate, in which we focused on how the Arctic both affects, and is affected by, Earth's temperature. We tried to connect back to the work students had done the previous year in the unit, Life in the Arctic, and the understanding they had built up about the Arctic ecosystem in the hopes that they would have a stronger grasp of the significance of climate change.
The accompanying curriculum stems from the lessons taught in the AH Native American unit and the lessons taught in the MST Arctic Week.
*This curriculum development is supported by an International Polar Year grant from the National Science Foundation, Arctic Social Science Program/Office of Polar Programs as part of a grant to Rutgers University, Principal Investigator Hal Salzman (Grant #0732973). The curriculum was developed by the Francis Parker Charter School, Devens, MA. Copyright for all material is reserved by Rutgers University and the Francis Parker Charter School; it may be reproduced in whole or in part for educational or training purposes, subject to the inclusion of the above acknowledgment of the source and funder (NSF). It may not be used for commercial use or sale. Reproduction for purposes other than those indicated above requires the prior written permission from Rutgers University.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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