Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WEDNESDAY, September 28, 2011

Yesterday was a great day to get an introduction to what it will be like to be a scientist in Barrow. We worked a long day in cold, windy, and snowy weather. Ground that was soft and spongy just a few days ago has now frozen. We walked on boardwalks and matted trail to protect fragile tundra, but were able to complete much of our sampling without any disturbance to the tundra. We collected soil samples and put them in small containers so we can analyze them later in the laboratory. We stored them in a cooler, but then found out that we had no refrigerator to get them cold. What do you think we did to keep them cold? Can you think like a scientist?

Scientists on our team are trying understand how land forms in the Arctic are controlled by things underground. Over the last few days we have used various imaging techniques, much like x-rays are used to image bones when they are broken, to see ice and frozen soils.
A third grade class from Ipalook Elementary School came to our research site to see what we were doing. They were a great group. They listened and then we showed them some of our equipment.

While the students were visiting us on the tundra we just happened to see a fox. We had seen many of these over the last few days. They are very curious animals. Can you see how the color of their fur helps them blend into the snow-covered tundra?

The students got back on the bus and we talked a little more about what it is like to live in Barrow. They liked their teachers and their school, although some of them liked the cold weather and others did not. Remember that I wrote about the mascot of the Ipalook Elementary school? Today I learned that the High Schoolers are called the Whalers; students at the middle school are the Wolves; and the mascot of the elementary school is the Arctic Fox! I ended my talk with the students by telling them that I was also writing to Mrs. Roberts' class of third graders in Knoxville. They all thought that was pretty neat. All the students here say "hello" and they wanted me to tell you that you are always welcome in Barrow. If you come, however, dress warm and be prepared for cold weather. The students also said to study your math, reading, and science!