A visitor from Antarctica

0
440

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle Students at Park Street Intermediate wave goodbye to Antarctica research scientist Louise Biddle after a Skyping session on May 22. Biddle was just one of seven scientists who spoke about their professions during the Skype a Scientist week.
Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
Students at Park Street Intermediate wave goodbye to Antarctica research scientist Louise Biddle after a Skyping session on May 22. Biddle was just one of seven scientists who spoke about their professions during the Skype a Scientist week.

Few people are fortunate enough to experience the vast and dangerous beauty that is Antarctic firsthand, but Louise Biddle is one of the lucky ones.

As a student at the University of East Anglia in England, Biddle has been to the western region of the icy continent twice to research the cause of high melt rates.

Her passion to understand that complicated question has made for some long days and night pouring over deep-water data at her home base in Norwich, and it has also driven her to reach out to educators across the globe to say she is always willing to speak about this topic that is so dear to her heart.

Several months after her first expedition, which took place at the end of 2012, she received an email from Arin Kress, a fifth grade science and math teacher at Park Street Intermediate.
In this email, Kress explained that her classroom was doing a ‘Skype Around the World in 6 Days’ event and asked if she would be willing to be their Antarctica contact. She agreed and spoke with the class about the makeup of the continent and the wildlife that inhabit it.

In the months that followed, Biddle and Kress kept in touch. And when the fifth grade students said they wanted to speak with an Antarctica researcher for their Skype a Scientist week, Kress knew whom to contact.

Rather than just speak about the wildlife – even though she Skyped bearing pictures of some of the cutest Adelie penguins – Biddle discussed her research, the difficulties of living in cramped quarters on the RRS James Clark Ross, and how much she enjoys speaking to young children who are interested in science.

“It is always inspiring to talk to the next generation of scientists,” she said.

Kress said that the additional scientists who Skyped with the classroom – such as a Yellowstone Park Ranger, a meteorologist, a veterinary toxicologist, a paleontologist and a marine biologist – expressed similar sentiments but she believes her students were the ones who were inspired the most during these interactions.

She said oftentimes her students ask if what they are learning in the classroom can really be applied outside of it and Skype a Scientist helped prove to them that it can be.

“It was very exciting for them to see science being used in the real world,” she said.

Kress said a few students have expressed a greater interested in the fields they learned about during the Skype a Scientist sessions and she hopes they continue to develop that interest as they move onto sixth grade and beyond.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.