The Challenge of Developing Arctic Curriculum for Classroom Use – Connecting Students and Scientists

Piper Bartlett-Browne, United States, Lee Cooper, Univ MD Center Enviro Science, Solomons, MD, United States and Jacqueline M. Grebmeier, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Solomons, MD, United States
One of the challenges in connecting scientists and K-12 classrooms is developing mechanisms for use of class material and real-world scientific applications, with the objective of enabling educators to be successful in creating a globally conscious classroom. The PolarTREC Program provides opportunities for teachers to engage in polar science with scientists in the field. These collaborations with researchers generates data that can be used potentially in the classroom and result in a better understanding of the scientific process. A direct advantage is that connecting students directly with the scientific community will foster enthusiasm and awareness, thus encouraging them to see themselves as genuine contributors to science.

The Distributed Biological Observatory (DBO) is generating collaborative, long-term data sets that have been the focus of several PolarTREC supported expeditions. The DBO is primarily concerned with how Arctic ecosystems are responding to climate-related change, including increasing water temperature and decreasing seasonal ice persistence at specific sites that were selected for high biomass and/or biodiversity. Some of the data sets that are being developed from this observation program are being adapted for use in the classroom through curriculum development, with the objective of connecting students with scientists and the data they collect. This presentation will describe the construction of a new DBO-specific curriculum website, where teachers will have access to individual lessons, video clips, and the opportunity to use the DBO project as a unit that engages students in ecosystem dynamics and climate change science. The data sets will be updated to reflect the most current science to allow students to apply real-world scenarios. The goal of this DBO outreach website is to make Arctic scientists and their research accessible and easy to use for both teachers and students.