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Let's go to Antarctica!

Last night I attended a mysterious congregation in a parking lot after dark. Luckily, I had a flashlight on my keychain, and I knew the people I was meeting were not dangerous. They are scientists who study Antarctica, and  a local teacher who is going with them with a mission to teach us more about the mysterious bottom of our earth.

Students will send water drops to take part in the Ice Aged expedition.

Students will send water drops to take part in the Ice Aged expedition.

There’s lots of information about their project at their website, IceAged. They plan to go to Antarctica at the end of September and spend a few months — until the summer “warmth” makes the ice dangerous to maneuver on — living at a research facility, going out on expeditions over the ice, scuba diving under the ice, and sending SCINI (“skinny”) the robot to go where humans can’t.

Tina Sander is a local teacher who is going along to forge a connection between what these researchers are doing and the rest of us. Her mission? To show us why we should care about how the Antarctic is changing and how human activity is damaging this fragile ecosystem.

Before going to the presentation, I didn’t quite get why a teacher was going along and what she was going to do. But the presentation was lively and informative, and I came away really stoked to have my kids, and hopefully their homeschool community, take part in this.

Sander is running a “Water Drop” program — kids will go to the website and print out a large water drop, which they will write messages on and decorate. Then they will mail it to Antarctica (one thing I learned last night is that Antarctica has a US Zip Code!), and Sander will send the water drop along on jobs that are done at the research station. Kids will be able to log in to her journal and see what their water drop has been up to, thus sending a little piece of themselves to take part in this fascinating project at the bottom of the world.

Sander is keeping an online journal of her experiences, and while she’s in Antarctica she’s also going to be doing webinars so that she can communicate with everyone who is watching her progress down south.

This sort of experience is the most rewarding part of what I do. If I hadn’t agreed to write about this project, I probably would have given in to lethargy at 8:30 on a Friday evening. But the commitment got me out of the house and I learned a great deal and am inspired to take part in this Santa Cruz-born adventure. I hope I can inspire some of you, as well, to send a little drop of water into the great big ocean that most of us will never see.

Posted in Education.

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