Let’s Go Camping — In Antarctica!

My family plans on doing some camping this summer but nothing like this! Listen to the story of an 8th grade science teacher from Boulder, CO who got to spend a month in Antarctica.

Of Snow Forts and Frostbite: Learning to Work (and Play) at the Poles

What’s it like, doing research at the bottom, or the top, of the world? Hear the passionate stories of one teacher’s trip to Antarctica, and the messages he brought home to his students. Plus, hear stories of researchers battling subzero temperatures and dangerous conditions to gather data about the Earth’s climate.

List to the podcast.

US DOE Opportunity Creates Teacher Scientists

The DOE ACTS 3 year program includes participating in research project(s) at a national laboratory, implementing technology-supported inquiry with students, educational leadership, using Web 2.0 collaboration tools and online meetings for follow-up support, and financial support for classroom equipment and further professional development.

Fermilab is offering a limited number of positions in its DOE ACTS cohort starting in the summer of 2010. Priority for this cohort will be given to mid-level teachers (grades 5-9).

Participants will meet at Fermilab for four weeks each summer for three years. During the academic year following each summer, as participants implement their summer work in their schools and work on small projects, they will be supported by program staff and by each other, primarily through online meetings, with one or two face-to-face meetings as well.

The program combines three strands of professional development: scientific research, teaching & learning, and educational leadership. Each year teachers will participate in a research project which will be woven together with the other two strands to strengthen and reinforce one another.

Participants will receive an $800/week stipend for their summer work. Non-local participants will also receive housing and travel. All participants will be eligible for grants to support classroom equipment purchases and travel to professional development conferences.

How to apply: Go to www.scied.science.doe.gov and click on DOE ACTS under “Programs for Teachers.” To apply, use the “Apply” link on the floating navigation bar on the left side of your screen.
When filling out your application, please consider the following:
-The application does not need to be completed in one sitting. You may save your work and return later.
-Different national laboratories have different programs. You will be asked for two lab preferences.
-Applicants are required to obtain two recommendations. These must be submitted online.
Your recommenders will use a unique website that is provided as part of your application.
-Early submission of the completed application is strongly encouraged.

-Full-time middle and high school science and mathematics teachers in public or private school.
-Must be at least 21 years old and a United States Citizen at the time of application.
-Must have current health insurance coverage.

Please contact Spencer Pasero (spasero@fnal.gov, 630-840-3076) with any questions about the program.

Meet Juanita Constible: An Antarctic Scientist

Juanita Constible spent her holidays in an unusual way – traveling to the coldest, windiest, driest, and highest place on Earth! She’s on a scientific expedition with four other scientists from Miami University (OH) and Ohio State University, studying an unusual insect’s ability to survive cold temperatures.

Juanita Constible

We were lucky enough to interview Juanita about her trip!

BPPB: Tell us a bit about yourself.

JC: I am a technical analyst—sort of like a scientific advisor—with National Wildlife Federation’s coastal Louisiana program. I was trained as a wildlife ecologist and have studied a variety of animals across Canada and the U.S. I’ve been interested in science education since I was a graduate student, and enjoy sharing my love of nature and science with people of all ages.

BPPB: What is the purpose of your trip to Antarctica?

JC: I’m going to Antarctica with four other scientists to study the southernmost free-living insect in the world. This insect is called Belgica antarctica, but we call it Belgica for short because it doesn’t have a common name. In addition to helping the scientists, I will be sharing our experiences with K-12 students and teachers.

Belgica larvae on mud.

BPPB: How did you become interested in Belgica?

JC: I used to be the lab manager for the Laboratory of Ecophysiological Cryobiology at Miami University. The scientists in this lab study how animals like frogs, turtles, and flies survive extreme cold. Belgica was the most interesting study animal to me because it lives in Antarctica. Before I worked at Miami University, I had no idea there were insects, mites, ticks, or any other invertebrates in Antarctica.

Why is Belgica special? Why is your team studying it?

JC: Belgica is a tough little fly! It can survive freezing, the loss of over 70% of its body water, wide swings in pH, immersion in salt water, and long stretches with little to no oxygen. Over the next three years, the team will do field and laboratory studies to answer these questions:

Does Belgica typically survive the winter by freezing or dehydrating?

What role do proteins (specifically aquaporins and dehydrins) play in the winter survival of Belgica?

How does Belgica “know” when it’s time to get ready for winter?

BPPB: How did you get the chance to travel to Antarctica?

JC: Mostly luck, I think! Seriously, though, having science and education experience and a heck of a lot of enthusiasm helped.

BPPB: Tell us about the preparation for your trip.

JC: The most complicated part was the physical qualification process. Everyone spending part of a field season at a U.S. base in Antarctica has to meet minimum health requirements—which means lots of tests, lots of dental work, and lots of paperwork. The health requirements are for everyone’s safety, as it can be difficult, dangerous, and very expensive to get someone out of Antarctica quickly in the case of a medical emergency.

BPPB: Can we learn more about your trip? How can we follow along with your adventures?

JC: Absolutely! We have a blog (http://frozenfly.edublogs.org), a Facebook fan page (Miami University’s Antarctic Connection), and a website (http://www.units.muohio.edu/cryolab). And I love answering questions. The best way to get in touch is through the comment section on our blog. That way, everybody gets to see the answers.

BPPB: How can teachers use this information in their classrooms?

JC: We’re going to touch on life science, physical science, history, math, and a bunch of other subjects, so there are connections to your entire curriculum. Consider using the materials as:

A daily reading warm up.

A hook for a science lesson on biological form and function, food webs, weather and climate, phase shifts of water, or another theme. Check out some of our polar lesson plans here: http://www.units.muohio.edu/cryolab/education/AntarcticLessons.htm

Inspiration for a creative writing or journaling activity. For example, you could ask students to spend a few days writing blog entries about their home town from the perspective of a tourist.

A source of videos, sound clips, or photos for art projects or public speaking assignments.

A tool to encourage students to interact responsibly and safely with adults and their peers online.

Thanks to Juanita for answering our questions! Do you know of someone we should interview on the blog? Post a comment – we’d love to hear from you!

Keeping Current With Science Research

Keeping up with the latest research in science is getting easier – wonderful science blogs and news services can inform and engage both you and your students. Depending on the blog or service, you can have the content delivered to your inbox or show up on your browser homepage. Look for the RSS symbol on the page for directions on how to add the content to your web site or favorite RSS Reader. You can follow many of these on Twitter. Here are some of our favorites – please use the comment box and let us know where you go on the web to stay current with what is happening in science.

Science 360 News Service
Science 360 gathers news from scientists, college and university press offices, popular and peer-reviewed journals, dozens of National Science Foundation science and engineering centers, and funding sources that include government agencies, not-for-profit organizations and private industry. This portal provides links to audio, video, picture of the day, and selected blog posts (What the blogs are saying today). So if you only have time to look at one resource, this is probably the one you want to look at. One news blast each day.

Wired Science
This blog follows in the footsteps of the parent magazine – an eclectic mix of really interesting stories that cover all science disciplines. Lots of cool images and embedded videos. Not a lot of opinion – mostly summaries of the science that is happening now. Usually one post a day – sometimes two. Also covers some mathematics topics – here is a good one: Mathematical Modeling for Surviving a Zombie Attack!

DotEarth: Nine Billion People, One Planet
In this New York Times blog, Andy Revkin explores the climate, sustainability, and other environmental issues facing us as the global population continues to grow. Frequent thoughtful, well-researched posts, interviews, and interactives will keep you up-to-date with the issues facing our planet.

Bad Astronomy
The guy that writes this blog, Phil Plait, the webmaster of Bad Astronomy, worked on Hubble Space Telescope. He is famous for debunking quite a few science myths (he doesn’t believe in alien encounters). This is a personal blog – he fights the misuses of science and praises the wonder of real science. Usually one post a day.

Science Buzz
Science Buzz, a blog from the Science Museum of Minnesota, is a way to dig deeper into science headlines and share questions and concerns with scientists, museum staff, and other visitors. Bloggers focus on science in the news, emerging research, and seasonal science. They encourage readers to be part of the buzzzzz. Two or more posts most days.

Science News – The New York Times
The science page of the NYT brings together all of the science content from the media outlet – articles, video, science blog posts (including DotEarth), letters to the editor and much more. The page is updated each day.

NPR Health Blog
This blog covers news about health and medicine. It is written and reported by NPR’s Science Desk. Two or more posts each day.

Tween Tribune
Many middle school science teachers expect their students to keep up with science news and trends. If you’re looking for a news source aimed at early adolescents, check out TweenTribune, which uses a blog tool to share fresh science news each week. TweenTribune also provides national and world news, entertainment, and a growing list of book reviews written for tweens.

ScienceDaily summarizes the top science news stories from the world’s leading universities and research organizations. These stories are selected from among dozens of press releases and other materials submitted to ScienceDaily every day, and then edited to ensure high quality and relevance. Updated several times a day with breaking news and feature articles, seven days a week, the site covers discoveries in all fields of science. A good search tool and readable content make this site very user-friendly.

We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 10/14/2011.