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Inspiring future scientists

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

A clever gaggle of 8th graders impressed us with their passion, energy and awareness.


We were thrilled to be invited to talk to 50-or-so 8th graders in Goochland Middle School’s world geography class. We talked about the squiggly winding path that has steered us from growing up just down the road from their school to spending a wintery month aboard a research vessel in the arctic. We told them about our upcoming adventure aboard the research vessel Sikuliaq with a science team whose goal is to understand what part waves play in the changing Arctic environment.


We showed them silly pictures of monkeys and sharks and baby arctic foxes. And then we had a thought-provoking discussion about what’s going on in the Arctic Ocean right now. The freeze up is late and there is less ice coverage than ever recorded for late October in the Chukchi Sea (between Alaska and Russia). In fact, there is only a third as much ice as there was in the next-lowest autumn (2007). Everywhere, we see articles with scary titles like “the end of the Arctic as we know it” and “Arctic permafrost is thawing fast. That affects us all.” It’s a lot to process and hard not to feel discouraged.


But these kids didn’t seem discouraged. They were curious – asking important questions about why it’s happening, how this science expedition will help, and – most importantly – what we will eat aboard the ship. We contemplated the conundrum of using a big diesel-powered ship to better understand the impact humans have had on the planet with their big diesel-powered ships (and planes and cars). We tried to imagine what -20 degrees will feel like.


It was a great conversation. My favorite part, though, is that it was only the beginning of our conversation with them. Over the next month, we will be hosting several live stream events for them and other classrooms across North America. The students will get a sneak peek into what life is like aboard a big ship, they will get to see the scientists at work and ask some of those compelling questions directly to them.


The first event is on the calendar! On October 19th, we will connect with hundreds of students on a live stream event through Exploring by the seat of your pants. So, if you’re a teacher, go sign up! If you’re a student, tell your teacher about it! And if you’re a friend-of-a-teacher, share this with them!


More live stream events to be announced soon.

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