The class had been able to track progress of the expedition as it departed from Ushuaia, Argentina, and traveled across the Drake Passage by following the map and blog entries on trip leader Doug Stoup’s Ice Axe Foundation website. It was really exciting for them to catch up by streaming live into their classroom to interact directly with the explorers. Rebecca and Michael, two Australian teenagers on the trip, were great tour guides describing their observations of wildlife, the incredible scenery, typical activities aboard the ship and their adventures on the peninsula. Montana students were most eager to find out about the ski conditions in such a wildly remote landscape. They were also curious about the different kinds of whales and penguin species spotted so far and weather and sea conditions. Rebecca and Michael answered all their questions, describing their amazement at witnessing an orca catch a seal for dinner and elaborating on how penguins use pebbles in nest building during this early part of the breeding season. Observing penguin colonies to record behavior and movement patterns was one of their science goals on this trip. Julie Hagelin, a scientist with the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, provided them with data sheets from her research project about brain lateralization, a homologous trait that determines how birds and other animals process information. Thanks goes out to her for sharing her scientific expertise, to Doug Stoup for his leadership and exceptional commitment to education, to Chelsea Prince for facilitating the communication exchange between students, and to Paul Andersen for allowing his students to take part in this first ASC Expedition to the Classroom. And a big thank you to peer-teachers Rebecca and Michael…..bon voyage as you navigate the Drake Shake and make your way back home!
Through the magic of Skype and BGAN technology, some 40 high school students in Montana were able to connect today with young explorers half a world away! This marked ASC’s first major Expedition to the Classroom event, and despite some minor challenges with time zone differences and a few transmission glitches, it was a great test run with the students in Paul Andersen’s science classroom at Bozeman High School.