Connecting with the North: Learning alongside top researchers in the Arctic
WHAT: Schools on Board is an outreach program of ArcticNet, based out of the Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources.
HOW IT STARTED: The program was developed to bridge Arctic research with science education in high schools across the country; increase awareness of issues related to climate change in Canada; and educate young Canadians about the challenges and career opportunities involving Arctic research.
HOW IT WORKS: For its main initiative, Schools on Board invites students and teachers from across the country to come to the Arctic. They stay aboard the CCGS Amundsen—Canada’s research icebreaker—and learn alongside world-class researchers from the ArcticNet science team. Participants experience research first-hand, from sorting organisms pulled off the ocean floor to processing water samples.
“So the kids not only get to be immersed in that environment but they get to see and engage with some of the leading scientists on the planet,” says David Barber, director of the Centre for Earth Observation Science at the U of M. “It’s a very effective instrument at engaging kids, not only kids from the South but also kids from the North. They learn from each other about the issues and perspectives they have based on the geography and where they come from.”
IN HER OWN WORDS: “You’re completely immersed in every aspect of science and to be actually there working alongside scientists 24-7 essentially was incredible. You cannot get that from a textbook,” says Ameena Bajer-Koulack, a former participant of Schools of Board and now a U of M student who credits the experience for opening her eyes to a love of biology. “I think for me personally the best part of the trip was connecting with the Inuit students who are part of the program because it really brought home the realities of climate change.”
FUNDERS: The University of Manitoba, ArcticNet, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Promoscience