September happenings in Arctic Studies

Arctic Studies class photo (trying to look chilly on a warm September afternoon in CT)

arctic_studies_class

Here’s what we’ve been up to over the past couple of weeks:

  • We looked at several different definitions of the Arctic (Arctic circle, Treeline, Extent of permafrost, July isotherm, and Political/cultural) and ultimately determined that they all have their merits and that we couldn’t decide on just one “best definition.”  We decided to make sure that we understand each of them, and we will use different definitions where appropriate to our studies.
  • We have been working on our map skills, brushing up on directions and distances, longitude and latitude.  The students (not the teacher) decided which Arctic geographic features that they needed to memorize, and they loved being able to determine this for themselves.
  • In preparation for a look into the seasons of the Arctic, we have been observing our shadows throughout the day.
  • This past week brought events that we felt were very important to our class: the People’s Climate March and UN Climate Summit in New York.  As an introduction to the issues surrounding climate change, we watched the movie “Disruption” in class.  Most of us felt a little anxious and uneasy as we began to look deeper into this subject. Finding ways for us to tackle climate change without becoming depressed and despondent will be perhaps my greatest challenge as a teacher this year.
  • Students learned about the Climate Reality Project and their mission to find solutions to the climate crisis.  Each student participated the “Why? Why Not?” video challenge, which asked young people ages 13-21 to submit short videos asking world leaders to address climate concerns.
This coming week, we will learn about GPS and how it works.  We will put our portable GPS receivers (phones) into action by going geocaching in the woods on our campus.  (And I just noticed that there are several geocaches hidden in Svalbard!  I’m kicking myself for not realizing this before my trip).
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