Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Nuna 2014 - Summer "Science" Camp in Barrow

Alessio Gusmeroli from the University of Alaska Fairbanks has a lot of energy and personality, and this week is using all that to host a week long summer camp for middle school students from the North Slope of Alaska.
Alessio writes that today was Day 1 and they began with a successful venture out to the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO). It was windy and cold for early July, but the students proved fearless. They visited the NGEE Arctic field sites and learned how to identify low- and high-centered polygons. Alessio and the students, all from one of several villages on the North Slope, measured thaw depth using a metal tile probe and the temperature of the permafrost using an infrared thermometer. Students recorded the depth of thaw, then dug down using a shovel through the active layer to the underlying frozen soil, and used the hand-held thermometer to measure temperature. The students quickly learned that although it's summer, the soils had only thawed to a depth of just 6 to 7 inches. At those depths the soil temperature was still only a few degrees below zero.

Alessio and the students gathered up their data and went back to the classroom to compile field observations. They did this as a group while watching Tunnelman videos. Those of you not familiar with this crusader of permafrost, should know that it is Dr. Kenji Yoshikawa from the Institute of Northern Engineering (INE) and the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Alessio writes that after working in the field and having watched the videos, the students have now renamed the tile probe device used to measure thaw depth as Tunnelman’s "sword". We may see more of this as the week goes along. 

In the afternoon Alessio and the students headed to the beach. They observed how sediments deposited within even short distances of one another can be different. They sampled mud, silt, sands and gravels, and brought everything back to the laboratory for analysis under the microscope. In addition the students took the opportunity to fly a kite, and with the help of Margi Dashevsky, a graduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder, the students learned how to take video. Margi then used her technical editing skills to put together the final project of the day: a video-summary! Check it out -

Nice job guys!