Waking up on a recent morning in Santa Cruz that was so foggy the streets had puddles, I thought about what to pack for my upcoming expedition to the driest, windiest, coldest, and most extreme continent in the world, Antarctica. What will I need? How will I survive? What’s it going to be like? Soon I’ll find out and so will you. And we’ll learn so much more. We’ll have the opportunity to observe research under the ice of Antarctica as it’s being done and to follow along as scientists try to measure and understand changes in seafloor communities. We’ll watch them SCUBA dive and use underwater robots to take pictures and videos, collect specimens, and get data. We’ll learn about the logistics of getting to remote spots on the most remote continent in the world. We’ll get the inside scoop of what it actually means to do research and what scientists are doing to understand climate change, ecology, and extreme environments.We’ll also see what life is like both in field camps and at a research station on this harsh but beautiful continent. I’ll actually be there, in Antarctica, helping to drill holes in the ice, suit up the divers, and possibly even “fly” the underwater robot. I’ll bring the experience to you through my blog which you can see at www.iceaged.info. I’ll be taking pictures and making videos which, along with explanations and descriptions, will be posted online in journals for you to read and enjoy. I’ll also answer your questions about life, science, and engineering in the land of penguins. If you’re one of my lucky students at Cabrillo, I’ll be helping you develop your writing skills from Antarctica. If you’re one of my lucky students at Santa Cruz Adult School, another teacher and I will work with you to develop your computer skills as you use our expedition and our blog for content material. If you have a child in elementary school, ask their teacher to participate in our WATER DROP program, which will connect Antarctica to their classroom. If you have children in high school, encourage their teachers to set up a link to our live webinars from Antarctica and integrate our blog into your children’s classes so they can follow our expedition, ask us questions, and think about the questions I’ll pose in our journal entries. (Please see http://iceaged2010.mlml.calstate.edu/water-drop/ for information). Whichever applies to you, I’m looking forward to sharing my experience with you. I’ll be heading down to Antarctica at the end of September but preparations are already in full swing. The scientists have been planning their schedules for months or even years. In fact, the two scientists leading our expedition, Paul Dayton and John Oliver, started this research over 40 years ago. We’re lucky to have their experience and knowledge to guide us. We’ve also got team of tough field ecologists that will be SCUBA diving under the ice and we have a team of highly intelligent engineers who invented and built the underwater robot called SCINI that we’re using to gather information under the ice. We’re all working on various aspects and we’ll bring it all together in just a few months. Then, together we’ll work to help you and the world better understand life in harsh environments, the realities of climate change, and eventually, how everything interacts on our planet.
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