Polaris Undergraduates Connecting With K-12 Students Though Story Telling-Learning About Climate Change Using Web-Mapping Based Investigations

Monday, 15 December 2014: 2:25 PM
John H Wood1, Susan Natali2, John D Schade3, Greg J Fiske2, Chris Linder4, Erika Ramos5, Luis R Weber6 and McKenzie Ann Kuhn7, (1)Talbert Middle School, Huntington Beach, CA, United States, (2)Woods Hole Science Center Falmouth, Falmouth, MA, United States, (3)Organization Not Listed, Washington, DC, United States, (4)Chris Linder Photography, Seattle, WA, United States, (5)University of Texas at Brownsville, Brownsville, TX, United States, (6)University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus, Department of Environmental Sciences, Cidra, PR, United States, (7)Wheaton College, Norton, MA, United States
The Polaris Project is a unique undergraduate education, research, and outreach initiative that examines global climate change in the Siberian Arctic. The program focuses on permafrost and carbon processes in the boreal and tundra ecosystems of the Kolyma Watershed, the largest watershed underlain by continuous permafrost. Each summer, a diverse group of undergraduate students and faculty mentors spends one month living on the Kolyma River, developing independent projects that engage the students directly in the biogeosciences through authentic scientific research experiences in remote field sites. In all cases the student projects contribute to the overall goal of the Polaris Project to investigate the transport and transformations of carbon and nutrients as they move among terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and the atmosphere. Through the use of online interactive ArcGIS maps the students share their experiences and learning, while posing questions in a format that can be used to engage K-12 learners in the classroom. By embedding information; including databases, photographs and video, informational text, and geospatial data; into user-friendly maps the Polaris Project students will “tell the story” of studying climate change in the Siberian tundra in a way that allows the users to explore climate science through inquiry and web-map based investigation. Through performance expectation topics including Weather and Climate, Interactions, Earth’s Systems, and Human impacts, this investigation uses consideration of the vast amounts of ancient organic matter locked up in permafrost in the region, and concerns about the fate of this ancient organic carbon as temperatures warm and permafrost thaws, to make K-12 climate change connections with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).