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This article was published 12/3/2018 (1284 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A handful of researchers from the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Earth Observation Sciences swapped their lab coats for parkas and Sorels to give local students a hands on Arctic research experience.
Over 150 middle school and high school students from across the province stopped by FortWhyte Alive on March 8 for the ninth annual Arctic Science Day and to meet the folks on the front lines of Arctic research.
The day of workshops was focused on snow and ice sampling, Arctic animals, and marine biology, and was funded in collaboration between the Centre for Earth Observation Sciences and FortWhyte Alive.
Students got to learn directly from scientists about the emerging field of Arctic archaeology, the algae that inhabits the ice covering the Earth’s northern ocean, and took turns dropping scopes below the surface of Lake Cargill to analyze the way light filters through ice and snow.
David Babb, a research associate at the University of Manitoba, led students through a series of tests on the lake opposite the Siobhan Richardson Field Station, measuring the temperature of the water just below the surface of the ice and demonstrating how to take an ice core sample.
Babb, whose work at the U of M focuses on sea ice dynamics, has been to the Arctic at least 15 times over eight years and aboard the Canadian research vessel CCGS Amundsen. After eight years volunteering to lead workshops, Babb said the day spent on the frozen lake at FortWhyte Alive helps students understand the significance of sea ice and its impact on marine life, animals, and the people who call the Arctic home.
"I really enjoy it, and I really like first of all the day out from the office is nice, but it’s also really nice to interact with high school and middle years students, and to try to expose them to the research we’re doing and some of the bigger picture things about sea ice," Babb said.
"Most of them are familiar with climate change and declining Arctic sea ice," he added. "When they’re actually physically holding an ice core we can say, now imagine that it’s less transparent, more opaque and you can see pockets in it — that’s the salt, now how does the salt stay in liquid form, and that sort of stuff."
Manraj Bambra, a student at the Maples Met School, took the opportunity to use a drill to take an ice sample from Lake Cargill. Afterwards he said he didn’t expect how laborious the work would be.
"It was pretty awesome," Bambra said. "I thought it might be easy but it’s like really hard."
"I didn’t know about the ice and that it could be that thick. I didn’t realize it could be two metres thick."
Katrina Froese, Arctic Science Day co-ordinator and educator at FortWhyte Alive, said students often leave the conservation centre with a greater appreciation of the research happening in the community addressing climate change and the urgency of Arctic research.
"It really helps students to connect what they’ve learned in the classroom with the reality of what’s really going on. We find that’s really impactful for students," she said. "If they didn’t have a lot of knowledge or interest before in what Arctic science is, when they go away from the day generally that interest has increased.
"They have a new grounding and understanding of how much change is happening in the Arctic and how quickly it’s happening."
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.