Science at the Poles

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Scie n c e a t the Po le s

Hi ghlights From Issue 19 (April 2010) DUFEKNOTES. Photo courtesy of Bill Meurer, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation.

Table of Contents

Science at the Poles, Issue 19 (April 2010) Science Content Knowledge

Unlocking the Climate History Captured in Ice

By Natalie Kehrwald


Literacy Content Knowledge

Teaching Students to Think About Text

By Tracey Allen and Clarissa Reeson


Feature Story

Life on the Ice (Cube)

By Stephen Whitt


Across the Curriculum: Lessons and Activities

Planning Polar Expeditions Integrates Math, Science, and Geography

By Jessica Fries-Gaither


Science & Literacy: Lessons and Activities

Hands-on Activities that Stimulate Polar Science

By Jessica Fries-Gaither


Off the Bookshelf


Science at the Poles: Virtual Bookshelf

By Julie Moran


Science Content Knowledge Unlocking the Climate History Capture in Ice By Natalie Kehrwald Imagine if it suddenly snowed two feet in your back yard. What would this snow cover? The grass and garden plants would certainly be hidden in the snow, along with your driveway. Maybe you left your bike in the back yard, and it is now buried under this surprise snow. Taller things, such as a picnic table, would still be visible above the snow. Now imagine that this snow did not melt (or maybe only a few inches melted) and then there was another sudden snowstorm of two feet. What would now be sticking out above the snow? What if the snow kept building up over years without melting? How would you learn what had been covered? Now imagine Antarctica and Greenland – places where snow builds year after year. Scientists in these places learn about Earth’s past climate (paleoclimate) by studying ice cores from glaciers and ice sheets. LAYERS UPON LAYERS Glaciers and ice sheets form on land when snow builds year after year, and where the amount of

Glacier, Greenland. Photo courtesy of Christine Zenino, Flickr.

snow that accumulates in a year is greater than the amount of snow that melts or moves downslope. The snow that started out as a fluffy covering begins to compact under its own weight and the weight of overlying new snow. Eventually the snow compacts to the point where it becomes ice, and the accumulated weight causes the ice to flow. Continent-sized bodies of this slow-moving ice, called ice sheets, are found in Antarctica and Greenland. Ice sheets are so large that they flow outward in all directions from the center, and flow faster in areas where there is less resistance (downslope and between mountain ranges). Smaller bodies of moving ice, though still quite large to the

human eye, are known as glaciers. Glaciers may be part of an ice sheet where it is moving through a passage or they can be moving ice in an ice field at the top of or between high mountains. The snow that creates glaciers and ice sheets falls in seasonal cycles, which are apparent as layers in the ice. A thick layer of snow is added during the wet, snowy season; a thinner (sometimes dusty) layer is added during the dry season. Glaciers tend to have approximately 1,000 to 10,000 layers, while parts of the Antarctic ice sheet have up to 800,000 annual layers.


Science Content Knowledge

Portable drill recovering ice cores from the Greenland ice sheet. Photo courtesy of Natalie Kehrwald, The Ohio State University.

OBTAINING ICE CORES Ice cores are cylinders of ice that are drilled from the surface of a glacier or an ice sheet down to the bedrock underneath. By drilling through the entire glacier, scientists obtain ice from every layer, allowing them to learn more about the conditions every year at that location. For this reason, they choose areas where the ice is not moving very much. The oldest ice is at the bottom of the glacier. It is important to drill down to the contact between the ice and the bedrock in order to obtain a continuous record to the oldest ice possible at that site. Obtaining ice cores is an adventure! Scientists must travel to the coldest and most remote places in the world to collect them. Scientists live for weeks or 4

A plane arriving to pick up ice core scientists on the Greenland ice sheet. Photo courtesy of Natalie Kehrwald, The Ohio State University.

months at places where it is below freezing all the time. They have to melt snow to have liquid water for drinking and cooking. When drilling ice cores in Antarctica or Greenland, they are flown to the middle of the ice sheet. The planes land on the ice, dropping off the scientists and all of their necessary equipment, food, and other supplies. Coring an ice sheet takes a few years. Camps that can be re-used during the next summer drilling season are set up. Once the plane takes off, research teams can look around in all directions and see nothing but a flat, white, windy plain. Temperatures range from 20 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and winds can reach up to 100 miles per

hour. Drilling camps tend to have between 5 to 50 people depending on the type of project. The scientists live in tents. Sometimes they cook and eat in snow caves that they have hollowed out to provide shelter from the wind. An ice sheet, such as the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, can be thousands of meters thick. The drill is able to retrieve up to three meters at a time, which takes several hours. Drilling a very deep ice core can take years because the work can only be done during the polar summer. MOUNTAIN GLACIERS BY TRUCKS AND YAKS Drilling ice cores on mountain glaciers is different from drilling ice cores on ice sheets. Mountain glaciers are thinner

Science Content Knowledge

Enjoying a hot meal in the mess tent. Photo courtesy of Carol Landis, The Ohio State University.

than the deep ice sheets. Therefore, the scientists can usually drill all the way to bedrock in one season. Often aircraft is not practical for traveling to mountain glaciers, so scientists drive as close to the drill site as possible. They then hire porters to transport the equipment and supplies up to a base camp, where the scientists get acclimated to thinner air. Scientists typically spend about a week at base camp, allowing their bodies to build more red blood cells to gather and carry oxygen from the thin air. Because they allow for this physiological response, scientists don’t need to use oxygen tanks at the high elevations. Oxygen tanks would add considerable weight and risk to the already difficult

expedition. While the scientists are becoming acclimated, the porters continue to move the equipment and supplies up to the drilling site, which is often at an elevation between 19,000 and 21,000 feet. Keep in mind that all of the necessary equipment for drilling ice cores in the mountains weighs up to six tons. Once the ice has been drilled and packaged in protective tubes and boxes, the combined weight of equipment and ice being brought down the mountain is about ten tons. Recently, an Ohio State University team went to western Tibet to drill ice cores. Their equipment was packed, inventoried, and shipped to western China, where it was

A high-altitude ice core drilling camp in Tibet. Photo courtesy of Natalie Kehrwald, The Ohio State University.

loaded into trucks. The team of scientists and their Chinese colleagues and helpers drove for five days, sometimes across stretches where there were no roads. Eventually, they were no longer able to drive the trucks up the rugged slope. At that point, they transferred the cargo to a team of herders who used yaks to carry the equipment up the mountain. Yaks are very strong, but they cannot easily walk on large boulders or slippery ice. After a few days, the scientists were at the edge of the ice and the yaks could no longer be used. The drill, tents, cooking supplies, and all of the other material had to be brought up the mountain by humans, with backpacks weighing up to 60 pounds. This meant several trips were needed 5

Science Content Knowledge to get the equipment from the edge of the ice to the base camp, and again from the base camp to the drill site. The scientists lived and worked in tents at an elevation of about 20,000 feet for over two weeks. In Tibet, the Ohio State University team was able to drill three cores of about 150 meters (400 feet) each. As the scientists bring each core to the surface, they examine and describe it before placing it in a plastic sleeve and then into a snow pit at the drill site for cold storage. When they have reached bedrock or are no longer able to get more samples from this site, they package the cores into cardboard tubes for transport. A team of porters arrives to carry the tubes down to the lowest edge of the ice, where pack animals are waiting.

Near the edge of the ice, the porters place six tubes inside a specially insulated box, add packs of frozen gel (much like those you might put in an ice chest), and add another layer of insulation. Then they secure the box lid in place. Each pack animal can carry one or two boxes (6 or 12 cores) down to the refrigeration truck that is still farther downslope. The ice can remain frozen for up to five days in the boxes. It is critical that the ice not be allowed to melt! On another drilling expedition, in a warmer climate, a refrigeration truck broke down near a small town. While the truck was being repaired, the leader, well-known glaciologist Lonnie Thompson, bought all the ice cream in a grocery store and gave it to the villagers, making room in the store freezers to keep the ice cores frozen temporarily.

Half of the cores that were obtained in this recent expedition to Tibet were left in China for independent analyses. The others were flown to the United States, where they were trucked or flown to Columbus, Ohio. When cores arrive at the cold storage facility at the Byrd Polar Research Center, they are quickly unloaded and maintained from that point forward at a temperature of minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The scientists may spend months to years analyzing the ice cores in their laboratory to gain information on past climate, such as temperatures, storm patterns, changes in atmospheric chemistry, and times of drought. LEARNING ABOUT THE PAST Ernest Shackleton, an early Antarctic explorer, once said, “What the ice gets, the ice

A Plane taking off on Greenland Ice Sheet. Photo courtesy of Mila Zinkova, Wikimedia Commons.


Science Content Knowledge

Examining ice cores in Antarctica. The ice cores are in metal trays and green plastic to protect them from breaking. Photo courtesy of Natalie Kehrwald, The Ohio State University.

keeps.” This means that once something is covered in ice, it and any associated information is preserved in the ice. Items can be large, such as animals that were on the glacier surface during a surprise snowstorm, or smaller, more common objects. Insects, parts of plants, volcanic ash, wind-blown dust, bacteria, and the ice itself provide information on past temperatures, accumulation, aridity, and wind patterns.

happened at other times in the past.

Ice cores can provide seasonby-season or year-by-year details on past climate. Through investigating the contents of ice cores, scientists can learn what the climate was like during past ice ages and tell when the climate suddenly changed in the past. They are able to look at the warming or cooling trends of present times and determine if they are similar to what has

RESOURCES These two videos from Polar Palooza explore ice coring. Watch these and others at PolarPalooza’s YouTube channel at ppza#p/u/16/B6JuRnmG3kw.

From looking at ice cores and other environmental records, scientists have been able to see that the warming of the past 70 years is significantly different from any other known warming in the past. Once scientists are able to know what has happened in the past, they are better able to understand what is happening in the present.

Reading Ice Cores watch?v=Atp412HEHDY This Polar Palooza video follows a 2007 expedition in which Mary

Albert (CRREL) and Jeff Severinghaus (Scripps) led a team of 9 researchers and 3 drillers in a 3-week project to drill down through nearly 125 meters of "firn" and ice close to NSF's Summit Station, Greenland. It explores how scientists “read” ice cores and what the information means. Ice Drillers are Hard Core ppza#p/u/16/B6JuRnmG3kw Deciphering the secrets of past climate hidden in ice cores depends on the technical skills and ingenuity under pressure of drillers from ICDS, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Ice Coring and Drilling Services. In this video, ICDS staffers Lou, Mike and Jay explain why they enjoy the life of drillers, braving extreme cold in some of the remotest regions of the globe.


Literacy Content Knowledge Teaching Students to Think About Text By Tracey Allen and Clarissa Reeson Just the other day, when Clarissa was giving a reading assessment to one of her students, the importance of thinking while reading was validated to her once again. To measure the student's accuracy and fluency, she asked him to read a passage aloud. When he completed the reading, she asked him to retell the story. At that point, he squirmed and muttered under his breath, while almost shrinking into his seat. It was obvious to her that he had no recollection of what he had read. Often, we forget that our students do not naturally "think" about the text while reading. For most students, this is not a skill that they have acquired. It is not uncommon for a student, like the one mentioned above, to fluently read text, yet have little to no comprehension. Since thinking while reading is not innately done by all students, we have to explicitly teach this skill to them. In other words, we must teach the skills we use as adult readers when 8

Reading. Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.

comprehending new or difficult text. High-quality instruction requires teachers to follow direct instruction with modeling. The modeling should include reading text aloud to students and stopping to share their thinking by questioning, visualizing, and connecting. This modeling will assist students as they further develop this skill. Students will ultimately be able to better comprehend text and form connections with their already existing knowledge. We have developed a template to guide students as they practice questioning, visualizing, and connecting (QVC) while reading. We remind our students to "tune in to the QVC channel because comprehension is the featured item." This humor and focus help our students remember to stop and "think" about their reading.

The template can be used in guided practice with the teacher or independently by students. It is truly amazing to see the connections students begin to make to text and how this development increases comprehension. Q+V+C Template onramp:18671/QVC.pdf This template helps students ask questions, visualize, and make connections while reading. Try it while reading “Life on the Ice (Cube),� this month's Feature Story! Life on the Ice (Cube) Literacy Set fwd/ipy_1004_set_lit_6041.html Everything you need to help students think about text - a pdf of this article, the QVC template, and the print book and electronic book versions of Life on the Ice (Cube) at K-1, 2-3, and 4-5 reading levels.

Feature Story Life on the Ice (Cube) Stories for Students

By Stephen Whitt

(and Teachers)! This nonfiction article is written for use with upper-elementary students (grades 4-5). Modified versions are available for students in grades K-1 and grades 2-3, or any student needing a simplified version. As always, consider the reading level and needs of your students when selecting a version for classroom use. At each grade level, the article is available in three forms. Printable pdf files allow you to print this story in either textonly or a foldable book format. A partnership with Content Clips has allowed us to create electronic versions of the articles. Your students can read along as they listen to the text - a wonderful way to support struggling readers! Literacy templates and related resources provide suggestions for integrating this story with your science and literacy instruction. Interested in other nonfiction articles for your students? Browse all twenty sets from the Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears collection at http:// information.php?topic=stories.

Right now, trillions of invisible bits of almost nothing are passing through your body. They are called neutrinos. Neutrinos are everywhere. Yet it is almost impossible to catch one. Scientists want to understand neutrinos. To learn about them, scientists have built some of the strangest telescopes ever seen. One of these telescopes is at the South Pole. It is called IceCube. Laura Gladstone is a scientist working at IceCube. Laura is a student at the University of Wisconsin. She helped design a machine that spots neutrinos moving through ice. Laura tested this machine at IceCube.

What’s it like to do science at the South Pole? Laura wrote about placing her machine down a mile-long hole in the ice. She wrote about cables that got so cold and icy that she needed a blow dryer to make them work. She wrote about working 18 hours a day (after all, there’s no nighttime for half the year at the South Pole). But Laura also wrote about everyday life in the coldest place on Earth. One day in December, some of the IceCube scientists made ice cream. They mixed powdered milk and water. They put their bowl outside. The ice cream froze in just three minutes! Laura said it was delicious. She had to be careful, though, not to touch the metal spoon to her lips, or else the spoon would stick! Laura also wrote about the clothing she wore while working at IceCube. Each day, Laura wore a heavy parka filled with

CDCPARKAS. Cold weather gear for U.S. Antarctic Program participants. Photo courtesy of Peter Rejcek, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation.




Above: Illustration courtesy of Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears. Right: Each year the scientists race around the South Pole. Photo courtesy of icecube.

down, three pairs of socks, and boots with four-inch soles. Altogether her clothing weighed 13 pounds. It’s a lot of work just to go outside even for a short time, so Laura needed to plan carefully. Many things we take for granted are missing from the South Pole. Laura wrote about how wonderful it was to have strawberries with a holiday dinner. At the Pole, where all food had to be flown in from far away, fresh strawberries were a rare treat. Hot showers were a rare treat, too. Laura was allowed two showers a week – each to last just two minutes! Not much time to wash your hair. But water and the fuel to heat it up are valuable. Everyone at the South Pole has to follow the rules to keep from running out of fuel. At the South Pole Laura lived in a temporary building with around 10

15 other people. The temporary building is only used in the Antarctic summer. No one could live there in the winter. Even in the summer, though, staying warm was a challenge. Laura wrote that she slept wearing long pants, a sweatshirt, and a hat, with three blankets and her coat draped over her. Not only that, but she had to wear a mask over her eyes to keep out the sunshine that kept coming – even in the middle of the night! Finding ways to have fun at the South Pole is more important than you might think. It keeps the scientists and other workers interested in their tasks. It also gives the 250 or so people working at the South Pole a feeling of tradition. One tradition is the Race Around the World. It is a two-mile race around the South Pole. Some run, some walk, and some ride in parade floats they’ve built for

the occasion. Laura described her favorite, a steam-breathing dragon that lumbered its way around the course. One activity missing from the South Pole might surprise you. There’s no ice skating. Why? Skating requires flat ice. Flat ice comes from water that has frozen over a lake or a pond. At the South Pole the ice never melts, so there’s no water to freeze. No water means no flat ice, and no flat ice means no skating. Other than the humans working at the Pole, there’s no animal life at all. That means no mice or mosquitoes, not even a butterfly or a squirrel, and no birds singing or flying overhead and no dogs barking. There was one animal that made it to the Pole with Laura, though. Her stuffed penguin PJ kept Laura company every step of the way.

Feature Story Left: C17CARGOPUSH. Food and equipment for the U.S. Antarctic Program at McMurdo Station. Photo courtesy of USAF/ Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation. Below: C17PEGASUSWINFLY. Bringing scientists and support personnel food and equipment. Photo courtesy of USAF/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation.

Most scientists don’t stay at the South Pole for long. Laura is now back in Wisconsin, but the work on IceCube will go on for many years. And the neutrinos Laura studied just keep coming. Glossary Down – soft, fluffy feathers, used to stuff clothing for warmth Lumbered – moved in a clumsy manner Parka – a warm jacket Tradition – an activity repeated year after year Trillions – a very large number of something

LITERACY TEMPLATES In this month’s literacy content knowledge article on page 8, we discuss how to help students think about the text as they read. Print and use the Q+V+C template to help your students question, visualize, and make connections as they read “Life on the Ice (Cube)!” Q+V+C Template onramp:18671/QVC.pdf This template helps students ask questions, visualize, and make connections while reading.

RELATED RESOURCES IceCube The web site of the IceCube project contains information for the “casual visitor,” a multimedia gallery, and a section devoted to educational outreach. The site is updated frequently with the latest news regarding the project.


Across the Curriculum: Lessons Planning Polar Expeditions Integrates Math, Science, and Geography

involve geography, science, and math skills, and the real-world scenario will keep students focused and interested. While the resources we've highlighted below focus on Antarctica, you can easily ask students to plan an Arctic expedition as well.

By Jessica Fries-Gaither

We recommend supplementing these activities with tales from real researchers. The PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating) program offers many "live from the field" broadcasts, and the web site includes expedition maps, photo galleries, and a wealth of resources, http:// Our monthly Researcher Stories column is another source of information about the men and women who

How can you integrate multiple content areas into a study of polar regions while engaging students and encouraging higher-level thinking skills? By asking them to use their understanding of these remote places and plan an expedition. Mapping routes, deciding on appropriate clothing, and calculating nutritional information


study in the polar regions, http:// browse/column.php? departmentid=field&columnid=fie ld!researcher. Children's literature is another great source of information. Check out this month's Virtual Bookshelf, on page 20, as well as the Polar Explorers bookshelf at http:// column.php? date=February2010&department id=literacy&columnid=literacy! bookshelf.

SP.05.3. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Stations sits on snow and ice. Only skiequipped planes can land here. Photo courtesy of Forest Banks, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation.

Across the Curriculum: Lessons LINKS Getting Ready to Go! (Grades K-2) documents/ESGettingReady.pdf Students plan an expedition to Antarctica, deciding on a route, transportation, provisions, and research topics. Coping with the Cold (Grades 3-5) cold.html Teams of 3-4 students plan an expedition to Antarctica. Antarctic Journey Itinerary (Grades 3-5) activity=antarctic_journey This activity provides students with an introduction to the gear and supplies they would need on an expedition and why many of these supplies are unique to Antarctic expeditions. This activity also encourages critical thinking and planning skills.

Icy Survival (Grades 4-5) activities/2508_warnings.html From prepared handouts, students identify items they consider essential to survival in an emergency outside camp in Antarctica. Packing for Antarctica (Grades 4-5) documents/Packing%20For %20Antarctica_LessonPlan_MK.pdf In this math/social studies/science//technology lesson, students use Microsoft Excel or AppleWorks spreadsheets to create a packing list for their "pretend" trip to Antarctica. A Meal of Endurance (Grade 5 and up) classroom/w4meal.html Calculate the calories in meals eaten by explorers. Will they survive on this diet?


Science & Literacy: Lessons Hands-on Activities that Simulate Polar Science By Jessica Fries-Gaither It can be challenging for students to comprehend the methods, tools, and technologies used in scientific research, and polar science is no exception. The remote locations and harsh environments mean that increasingly sophisticated – and complex – technologies must be used in research. Help your students understand polar research by using these lessons

and activities. We’ve included ideas for teaching about ice cores, sediment cores, remote sensing, balloon-assisted research, robots, and the work of polar researchers. Due to the complex nature of these subjects, most of the lessons are appropriate for upper elementary students. Looking for lessons to use with students in grades K-2? Check out “Planning Polar Expeditions Integrates Math, Science, Geography” on page 12 for resources about gear, clothing, and expedition routes. We’ve suggested ideas for integrating literacy – reading, writing, and discussion – into these activities. We’ve also

ICE CORES Polar researchers use ice cores to reconstruct the climate of the past. Ice cores contain layers, millimeters to centimeters thick, which can be counted to determine the age of the ice core. The cores contain bubbles of dissolved gas, which provide information about the composition of the atmosphere. Oxygen molecules are used to determine the temperature of the ocean water, which evaporated to form the snow that made the ice. As of October 2009, researchers had collected and analyzed ice cores that reveal climate conditions over the past 850,000 years. Ice Cores (Grades 3-5) weatherpast.htm


aligned each lesson to the appropriate national standards – National Science Education Standards and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)/International Reading Association (IRA) Standards for the English Language Arts. The entire National Science Education Standards document can be read online or downloaded for free from the National Academies Press web site. The content standards are found in Chapter 6, http:// record_id=4962&page=103. The NCTE/IRA Standards may be viewed online as well, http://

This activity involves using frozen water balloons (ice balloons) to represent ice cores. Students observe the air bubbles trapped in the ice and discuss how similar bubbles help scientists understand past climates. Scroll down the page to find this activity. This activity meets the Earth and Space Science and History and Nature of Science content standards of the National Science Education Standards. Frozen in Time: Ice Cores (Grades 4-5) Ice%20Cores.pdf In this lesson, students observe and measure cans of frozen water, prepared by the teacher, to simulate the study of ice cores by glaciologists. They count the number of years of snow

Science & Literacy: Lessons accumulation represented in their cores and graph their data to discover trends in annual snowfall. This lesson meets the Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Earth and Space Science, and History and Nature of Science content standards of the National Science Education Standards. Ice Cores: Modeling Ice Sheets (Grades 5 and up) Students working in groups use common materials to create layers representing stratification of snow and ice. Groups exchange their layers and extract core samples to analyze them. This lesson meets the Earth and Space Science and History and Nature of Science content standards of the National Science Education Standards. Literacy Integration: These lessons include drawing the ice cores, graphing, and answering questions, making them ideal for use with science notebooks. Science Notebooks: Integrating Investigations column.php? date=August2008&departmentid=professional &columnid=professional!literacy This article provides an overview of science notebooks and the book Using Science Notebooks in Elementary Classrooms by Michael Klentschy. Using science notebooks can meet the following NCTE/IRA standards: 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12.

SEDIMENT CORES Researchers with the ANDRILL (Antarctic Geological Drilling) project use sediment cores from Antarctica’s coastline to reconstruct past glacial history and better predict Earth’s future climate. Layer-Cake Earth (Grades 3-5) product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/4/ sc06_044_04_41 This article, from the National Science Teachers Association's magazine Science and Children, explains how to use a layer cake to create a hands-on activity in which students take core samples, locate fossils, and investigate concepts related to geologic sampling. Literacy Integration: The article includes extension questions that can be answered in science notebooks or journals. Students can also draw and label their group's core sample, and describe their findings. Descriptions and drawings can be assessed with a rubric. Science Notebooks: Integrating Investigations column.php? date=August2008&departmentid=professional &columnid=professional!literacy This article provides an overview of science notebooks and the book Using Science Notebooks in Elementary Classrooms by Michael Klentschy. Using science notebooks can meet the following NCTE/IRA standards: 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12.


Science & Literacy: Lessons they appear on the web site. Have students create a flipbook with one page per month. Create a slide show to display on an interactive white board or through a projection system instead of having students trace the images. Print and copy the images for students instead of having students trace them. Literacy Integration: Student drawings and written descriptions of the changes in sea ice can be recorded in a science notebook.

Taking a break from hunting for fossils on Seymour Island. FOSSILFINDERS. Photo courtesy of Kurtis Burmeister, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation.

REMOTE SENSING Remote sensing (satellite images, aerial photography, and other techniques) is used to observe remote and inaccessible locations in the polar regions. It is also used to track large-scale changes, such as the changes in the polar ice caps. Changes in the Antarctic Ice Sheet (Grades 4-5) ice.html Use satellite images on the web to track the changing ice sheet, month by month. Pair with the NOVA video clip Antarctica: Sea Ice, available from Teachers’ Domain, http:// ess05.sci.ess.watcyc.seaice/. Suggestions for elementary teachers: Save each image separately to your computer and print. The images will be much larger than


Science Notebooks: Integrating Investigations column.php? date=August2008&departmentid=professional &columnid=professional!literacy This article provides an overview of science notebooks and the book Using Science Notebooks in Elementary Classrooms by Michael Klentschy. Using science notebooks can meet the following NCTE/IRA standards: 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12. A Remote-Sensing Mission (Grade 5 and up) id=10.2505/4/sc08_045_05_44 In this article from Science and Children, an NSTA journal, fifth-grade teacher Rose Hotchkiss describes how her experience with the Remote Sensing Earth Science Teacher Program (sponsored by NASA and the JASON Project) translated into a remote-sensing mission with her students. Remote sensing is often used in the polar regions to collect data in inaccessible locations. The activities described in this article meet the Science as Inquiry, Earth and Space Science, Science and Technology, and History and Nature of

Science & Literacy: Lessons Science content standards of the National Science Education Standards. Literacy Integration: The article references a “mission notebook” (science notebook) in which students posed questions, recorded data, and drew conclusions. Science Notebooks: Integrating Investigations column.php? date=August2008&departmentid=professional &columnid=professional!literacy This article provides an overview of science notebooks and the book Using Science Notebooks in Elementary Classrooms by Michael Klentschy. Using science notebooks can meet the following NCTE/IRA standards: 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12.

standards of the National Science Education Standards. Literacy Integration: In this project, students designed their own experiments for the balloon launch – which could be recorded in a science notebook. Science Notebooks: Integrating Investigations column.php? date=August2008&departmentid=professional &columnid=professional!literacy This article provides an overview of science notebooks and the book Using Science Notebooks in Elementary Classrooms by Michael Klentschy. Using science notebooks can meet the following NCTE/IRA standards: 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12.

BALLOON-ASSISTED RESEARCH High-altitude balloons carry weather instruments high into the atmosphere, collecting data in a costefficient manner. Designing Payloads (Grade 5 and up) product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/4/ sc09_046_09_22 In this article from the NSTA journal Science and Children, fifth-grade teacher Linda Kehr describes a project in which students learned about weather balloon satellites and participated in launching a high-altitude balloon satellite as the culminating experience. Balloons are used in Antarctic regions to gather data about the upper atmosphere. The activities described in this article meet the Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Earth Science, and Science and Technology content

OXONBALLOONAWAY. Photo courtesy of Peter Rejcek, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation.


Science & Literacy: Lessons ROBOTS Robots, sometimes known as Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, are used to explore the deep waters of the Arctic and Southern Oceans. Two Miles Below (Grades K-5) column.php? date=February2010&departmentid=literacy&colu mnid=literacy!feature This informational text describes how scientists used robots to explore the Gakkel Ridge, a mountain range two miles beneath the surface of the Arctic Ocean. The text is available at three grade levels -- K-1, 2-3, and 4-5 -- and in three formats -- text-only, illustrated book, and electronic book with recorded audio narration. Literacy Integration: Teachers can differentiate instruction with this science-themed informational text by allowing students to choose a variety of post-reading activities.

Differentiating at the Nonfiction CafÊ column.php? date=February2010&departmentid=profession al&columnid=professional!literacy This article includes a menu of post-reading activities for use with any nonfiction text. Students spend $50 on their choice of activities. POLAR RESEARCHERS Researcher at Work (Grades K-5) polartrec-teacher-researcher-work Students use journals, pictures, and forums at the PolarTREC web site to learn about a researcher or an expedition. They record what they learned about the polar researcher’s work on a worksheet. Teachers may choose to modify this lesson by having students create posters, scrapbooks, or field logs in lieu of the worksheet. This activity meets the History and Nature of Science content standard of the National Science Education Standards.


Science & Literacy: Lessons Polar Scientists (Grades K-5) polar-scientists-polar-science Students learn about current polar scientists and their research by using a variety of web sites. They will determine their personal views of polar science as a career. This activity meets the History and Nature of Science content standard of the National Science Education Standards. Who Are These People? (Grades K-5) This lesson provides guidelines for a project that develops connections between students and scientists via a shared biography, a guest speaker, or an online exchange.

Literacy Integration: These lessons all involve research and reading about polar scientists and their work. Students can create a variety of products to display their knowledge, including: • Poster or Glogster (virtual poster) • Scrapbook (paper or online at Stixy) • VoiceThread • Presentation (using PowerPoint or Prezi) Learning about polar researchers can meet the following NCTE/IRA standards: 1, 3, 4, 7, 8, 11, 12.

This activity meets the History and Nature of Science content standard of the National Science Education Standards. AIRDROPRETRIEVAL2. South Pole Station personnel retrieve cargo airdropped to them from a C-17 jet. Photo courtesy of Forest Banks, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation.


Off The Bookshelf Science at the Poles: Virtual Bookshelf By Kate Hastings

This month's bookshelf will help students learn about the different types of scientists who come to Antarctica from around the world to do research they cannot do anywhere else on the planet. Antarctica's thick ice sheets hold clues to the history of the earths climate, and

Antarctica is one of the best places for astrophysicists to peer deep into outer space. Biologists come to Antarctica to learn how living things adapt to such an extreme environment, while geologists are able to uncover clues about the life that once flourished in the Arctic.

SCIENCE AT THE POLES Explore Antarctica. Bobbie Kalman and Rebecca Sjonger. 2007. Nonfiction. Grades K-2. Readers will learn that only about 1,000 people stay in Antarctica during the winter and most of those people are scientists. The scientists live in groups of buildings called research stations. There are 58 research stations across Antarctica. Sea Secrets: Tiny Clues to a Big Mystery. Mary M. Cerullo and Beth E. Simmons. 2008. Nonfiction. Grades 2-5. Students are engaged in mysterious changes happening to seabirds, whales, and penguins. They learn about the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network and how this effort has helped scientists understand the effect of warming ocean water on marine food webs. Download lesson plans and other materials from the LTER web site, http://


Discovering Antarctica: The Future. June Loves. 1998. Nonfiction. Grades 3-5. This book describes the discovery and exploration of Antarctica, territorial claims, treaties, tourism, and global scientific cooperation in terms of the future. Antarctic Journal: Four Months at the Bottom of the World. Jennifer Owings Dewey. 2001. Nonfiction. Grades 3-5. Readers get a glimpse of an artist's four-month stay in Antarctica through her sketches, photos, journal entries, and letters home. Life on the Ice. Susan E. Goodman. 2006. Nonfiction. Grades 3-5. The photographs in the book take readers on a tour of the world's ice landscapes, primarily Antarctica. The book discusses the nature of the extreme climate, the planes that fly there, the scientists who study it, and what it takes to live in this environment.

Off The Bookshelf Pioneering Frozen Worlds. Sandra Markle. 1996. Nonfiction. Grades 4-5. A primary science teacher turned writer explains how scientists are using technology to research the many forms of ice and snow, the wildlife, the atmosphere, and more at the poles. With each research field, she offers an investigation children can carry out alone or with classmates. Survivor’s Science at the Polar Regions. Peter D. Riley. 2005. Nonfiction. Grades 4-5. The information and science activities in this book explain what you would need to know to survive on an expedition in the Arctic or Antarctic. What should you wear in the special weather conditions? How do you travel across snow, ice, and tundra? Ice Scientist: Careers in the Frozen Antarctic. Sara L. Latta. 2009. Nonfiction. Grades 4-5. Designed for older learners, this resource explores different careers using the stories of real scientists in Antarctica. Included among the careers are geologist, paleontologist, glaciologist, astrophysicist, marine biologist, and oceanographer. Boxed text throughout adds interesting facts about the scientific research and Antarctica.

Looking for Seabirds: Journal from an Alaskan Voyage. Sophie Webb. 2004. Outstanding Science Trade Book Award 2005. Nonfiction. Grades 4-5. Biologist Sophie Webb sails to the Aleutian Islands on the research ship Alpha Helix to study arctic seabirds. The ship follows plankton populations and kelp beds to capture a realistic picture of the behavior of auklets, petrels, albatross, fulmars, and murres at sea and on land. Simple watercolor illustrations capture the grandness of the landscape and the beauty of arctic birds. My Season With Penguins. Sophie Webb. 2000. Outstanding Science Trade Book Award 2001. Nonfiction. Grades 4-5. Follow biologist Sophie Webb as she chooses cold weather clothing, attends survival school, and sets up a camp at Cape Royds (within view of Mount Erebus). Here she studies Adelie penguins for two months. She explains methods for tagging, weighing and tracking penguins and shares the research questions her group hopes to answer. This book would complement the real-time Cape Royds nest check activity on the Penguin Science web site. Antarctica: The Heart of the World. Coral Tulloch. 2003. Nonfiction. Grade 5 and up. A chapter in this book lists scientific programs underway in Antarctica. The list includes astronomy, atmospheric sciences, biology, Antarctic marine living resources, cosmic ray physics, geosciences, glaciology, and human impacts. Short notes from the scientists about their work appear throughout the book.


Off The Bookshelf PENGUINS AND POLAR BEARS Penguins. Emily Bone. 2009. Nonfiction. Grades K-2. Where do penguins live? What do they eat and how do they catch their food? Beginner readers can find answers to these questions and more in this book. Photographs and illustrations are accompanied by short, informative sentences. The book also includes links to web sites about penguins.

Polar Bears. Sophie Lockwood. 2006. Nonfiction. Grades 3-5. Part of the World of Mammals Series, this book begins with the Inuit’s traditional hunting of polar bears and then moves to the hunting habits of the bears. Other short chapters cover the polar bear population and locations, relationship to other members of the species, and threats to survival. Glossary and sources of information.

Why Use Children’s Literature? Linking science instruction to children's literature has become increasingly popular in recent years for a variety of reasons: the literature connection motivates students, provokes interest, helps students connect scientific ideas to their personal experiences, accommodates children with different learning styles, and promotes critical thinking. Whatever the reason, we know that books about science can capture even the most reluctant readers and writers. Students are naturally drawn to the colorful photographs and layouts of nonfiction science texts. Using science books allow teachers to meet their reading and writing goals while filling a need to teach more science. Teachers can use books as a starting point for meaningful classroom discussions; some teachers even begin class by reading a poem or a picture book aloud, simply for the enjoyment of the literature. Some teachers project the book onto a screen so the class can read the text together. Picture books make wonderful writing prompts and can provoke good journal writing. Interdisciplinary thematic units can be broadened by use of children's literature. You’ll notice that most of our selected books are nonfiction. We believe that elementary students need exposure to this genre to set a compelling purpose for reading and to become familiar with the text structures used in expository and informational text. Reading nonfiction trade books also supplements scientific investigations and helps students connect hands-on experiences with abstract concepts. In other cases, the text provides valuable information that cannot be gained through hands-on experience. Finally, nonfiction books can serve as mentor texts, providing models after which students can pattern their own writing.


THE BEYOND PENGUINS AND POLAR BEARS PHOTO GALLERY In our polar photo gallery, you can browse color images from past cyberzine issues and polar researchers. We include rights and re-use information to help you use the images in your classroom! Visit to discover amazing images of icebergs, glaciers, polar animals, and much more!

BEYOND PENGUINS PODCAST SERIES In our series of podcasts, we trek across the poles to find ways to help you teach science in your elementary classroom! We also tackle common misconceptions your students might have about science and share stories, teaching activities, and the latest news related to the poles. You can listen to the podcast episodes through your audio player or iTunes. To see the entire list of episodes, go to

STANDARDS ALIGNMENT Are you wondering how the contents of each magazine issue align with the National Science Education Standards? On our Standards page, we’ve created two tables - one for grades K-4 and the other for grades 5-8 that show the alignment to the science content standards. Visit for more information.

EMPERORSTHREE. Photo courtesy of Robyn Waserman, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation

Greenland Ice Sheet. Photo courtesy of chrissy575, Flickr.

The Polar Bears at Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Photo courtesy of James Seith Photography, Flickr.


Abo u t U s Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is an online professional development magazine for elementary teachers. It prepares teachers to integrate high-quality science instruction with literacy teaching. The magazine is available for free at Twenty thematic issues link polar science concepts to the scope and sequence of elementary science curricula. The result is a resource that includes issues devoted to day and night, seasons, plants and mammals, erosion, and other physical, earth and space, and life science concepts. Some issues are also interdisciplinary, focusing on polar explorers, the indigenous people of the Arctic, and the challenges of doing science in the polar regions. To browse the complete archive of issues, visit Other project features include a companion blog ( about polar news and research, a polar photo gallery ( and a podcast series ( Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0733024 and is produced by an interdisciplinary team from Ohio State University (OSU), College of Education and Human Ecology; the Ohio Resource Center (ORC) for Mathematics, Science, and Reading; the Byrd Polar Research Center; COSI (Center for Science and Industry) Columbus; the Upper Arlington Public Library (UAPL); and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Core Integration team at Cornell University and University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).

Copyright January 2011. Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is produced by an interdisciplinary team from Ohio State University (OSU), College of Education and Human Ecology; the Ohio Resource Center (ORC) for Mathematics, Science, and Reading; the Byrd Polar Research Center; COSI (Center for Science and Industry) Columbus; the Upper Arlington Public Library (UAPL); and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0733024. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Content in this document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Printed version layout and design by Margaux Baldridge, Office of Technology and Enhanced Learning, College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University. For more information email: