Education & Outreach

ngrp_eoAn important part of our job as scientists is communicating our research and its importance to others. This communication happens on many levels. We have well established methods of sharing our research with others in our field and with the broader scientific community through our publications, conference presentations, posters, etc. Our ways of communicating with the general public, decision makers, teachers and students are less formalised and often less practised, but this communication is essential for the greater impact of our research. 

The IPY placed strong emphasis on education and outreach in its planning and many early career polar researchers are using this momentum to get involved in broader communication of their work and the importance of the Polar Regions. Here find out about polar science outreach activities and how to get involved, share experiences of outreach involvement, and find tips and resources for communicating research.

If you have questions or want to get involved pleas contact the Education and Outreach Committee co-chairs Heidi Roop (roop.heidi at and Teresa Valkonen (teresa.valkonen at


One of the biggest challenges that scientists have today is to communicate their science efficiently to their peers, to the media, to the general public to everyone. Still today we see colleagues of ours talking in conferences that we do understand very little. Solution: improve our communication skills! Your supervisor, your department, your colleagues (and students) and your CV will thank you! To address this issue, an international workshop was organized in Portugal in 26-28 March 2013, titled "EDUCATION MEETS SCIENCE: BRINGING POLAR RESEARCH INTO THE CLASSROOMS”, by the Institute of Marine Research of the University of Coimbra (Portugal), the Alfred Wegener Institute (Germany) and the British Antarctic Survey (UK), with the Museum of Science of the University of Coimbra and the national Agency Ciência Viva, following the success of the teachers/educators workshop at the International Polar Year (IPY) 2012 Conference in Montreal and Oslo in 2010.

A total of 41 invited participants (i.e. teachers/educators and invited scientists) from 13 countries (USA, Canada, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Iceland, Bulgaria, UK, Germany and Swirzterland) participated, inlcuding various APECS members (both sicentists and teachers/educators). The scientists gave science lectures in the morning, whereas the afternoons were composed by demonstrations that teachers/educators could implement in their classrooms), finishing the days with panel discussions addressing key issues for teachers/educators and scientists. See the film here

The workshop was a success and concluded that the new association Polar Educators International (PEI) is getting stronger and stronger, highly engaged in collaborating with other organizations, such as APECS, in POLAR WEEKS, and determined to define a clear strategy to help polar teachers/educators and scientists to introduce polar science at local (schools), national and at the international levels, while sharing educational resources. For early career scientists this means more opportunities to get involved in education and outreaxh and improve communication skills.This is really good news for APECS!

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APECS Education and Outreach committee, together with ARUCS and PEI celebrated our second International Polar Week from September 16 - 22, 2012. Polar Week brings together polar researchers, students, educators, and polar enthusiasts to engage in and learn about polar regions.

During Polar Week several activities were organized to celebrate the science conducted both in the Arctic and Antarctic. A classroom activity called Flakes, Blobs and Bubbles: An ice core art project was chosen as the flagship activity for Polar Week. It explored how ice sheets and glaciers form as well as why and how scientists study ice. Over 700 images were submitted from around the world, producing a global ‘ice core’! The ice core images and composites are available at

An Ask-A-Scientist forum was launched during Polar Week September 2012. We had over 40 early career scientists and other experts answering questions from schools and the general public. The questions and answers can be found at APECS site now

Live webinars also took place during Polar Week. Polar Educators International (PEI) held a webinar for APECS members and educators to discuss bringing polar science into classrooms and communities. The Arctic Research Consortium of the US (ARCUS) and APECS hosted two live ‘Connecting the Poles’ webinars for students and classrooms to connect with scientists that work in the polar regions. An APECS Outreach and Education Research webinar was held to learn more about how education research is done. Don't worry if you missed any of the webinars! You can still watch and listen many of them through ARCUS and APECS archives.

Thank you to everyone who took part in Polar Week and made this possible. A big thanks goes out to the many national committees who actively promoted Polar Week and organized activities in their countries. If you were involved in Polar Week, we encourage you to submit articles to the APECS web site. Share what you did and get others inspired!

If you missed the action this time, make sure you'll be ready in March 2013. Plans for the next International Polar Week will be starting soon. Don’t forget to celebrate Antarctica Day on December 1st, in honor of the signing of the Antarctica Treaty in 1959!

If you would like to help or get more involved with Antarctica Day or March Polar Week please contact our APECS Education and Outreach Committee co-chairs, Heidi Roop (roop.heidi at and Teresa Valkonen (teresa.valkonen at

In just a few weeks the APECS Education and Outreach Committee will be hosting the second Polar Week of 2012. The now biannual APECS hosted Polar Week was inspired by the highly successful Polar Week events during the IPY. Polar Week occurs around the equinoxes each year, and aims to bring together people interested in the polar regions to learn and share with students, teachers, educators and everyone else interested in learning more.

Brazil is just one of many countries participating in the upcoming Polar Week, organized through the very active APECS Brazil National Committee. Recently Erli Costa, the APECS Brazil president, did an interview with a reporter from Cienza Hoje, a Brazilian publication, about Polar Week in Brazil.

From the article "What is the relationship between climate of Brazil and Antarctica? How important are the poles? What does a polar researcher? Questions like these can be raised and answered in the International Polar Week, an event sponsored by the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS), what will happen in several schools in the world between 16 and 22 September."

You can are read more about Polar Week in Brazil in the online article at

Hint: read it in English (or any other langugaue) with Google Translate! You can also read more about Brazil's Polar Week events and efforts at

If you have been promoting Polar Week in your own country the EOCommittee would love to hear about it.  Please send any information to info[at]

The Science Museum of the University of Coimbra (Portugal) organized the “Night of the Environment” on the 22nd June 2012, with activities carried out at the conference of the United Nations' Rio + 20 "for a Sustainable Development”, under APECS Portugal and the national program PROPOLAR. In an event dedicated to general public, about 230 people attended to this initiative.

Polar Science was represented by the group of polar science of the Institute of Marine Research of the University of Coimbra (IMAR-CMA), coordinated by José Xavier and José Seco. The main objectives were to explain the importance of polar science to the general public, with games to the youngest and activities explaining the effect of oil on the feathers, an activity showing robust anatomy of penguins and scientific posters, for the parents and older visitors.

The importance of Polar Science for a non-polar country as Portugal was presented using the concept that our planet is an open system and that any interference made in any place will have repercussions on a global level. The team reported to the people that the area of the Antarctic Peninsula was one of the most affected by global warming and that studying and realizing what happened there allows us to be better prepared for the anger is likely to pass to the rest of the planet. Them inform the people to the effects of the impact that pollution has in our planet (and particularly on seabirds) with a little experiment, where feathers were dipped in oil and they could check the detrimental effect that this contaminant may have on animals.

Penguins are charismatic animals that are well known by the whole audience, but to better test the general knowledge of the participants, it was proposed a challenge to those who passed: they had three objects (a block of ice, a penguin teddy and a rugby ball) of choice and were asked to touch the objects and say which of them have the texture similar to a penguin. Despite it was not possible to reach any conclusion, because the responses were very different, the tendency of the younger was often for the Teddy. After the challenge it was explained why the rugby ball was the one more similar (i.e. penguins are pretty though and robust animals) and what were the advantages of these physiological adaptations for penguins. In the most pertinent question "Why should we do polar science in Portugal?", two scientific posters were displayed explaining that the polar regions are some of the best parts of the world to get answers regarding major Earth´s issues (e.g. Climate change, sea level rising, ice melting processes, world ocean circulation, ocean acidification), Portuguese scientists are working with some of the best research teams in the world, and that most of the science carried out in the Polar regions can have direct or indirect implications in Portugal. The posters also showed the diversity of penguins that exists and numerous children were amazingly surprised when discovering that there are species of penguins that was almost the size of them.  It also explained how difficult it is to get to Antarctica, the time it takes to get there was a question asked by nearly everyone, where is fieldwork taking place, where we stayed during our campaign, what is like to live there and the spirit that mutual aid and most importantly, how penguins are studied.

The team presented the the main objectives of the campaign's Penguin Project, as it held all the planning of the campaign, the most asked questions were answered.  Preliminary results showed that all indicated that the two species of penguins (Pygoscelis papua and Pygoscelis Antarctica) compete for food, and to aggravate this situation the krill population is falling, and when explained the possible consequences of this situation for both species the feeling of disgust was always demonstrated. One of the objectives of the research group is to carried out education and outreach, starting this in schools, showing the younger generations the relevance of Antarctica and captivating them to work hard in schools to achieve their goals.

by José Seco and José Xavier

Institute of Marine Research, University of Coimbra

APECS  is happy to annouce the Teresa Valkonen will be joining Heidi Roop as the new co-chair of the Education and Outreach Committee.

Teresa_picTeresa is a doctoral student in Antarctic meteorology at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and a visiting scientist at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway. Her primary research interests in Antarctic meteorology include processes at atmosphere - sea-ice interface. She is applying a regional atmospheric model to study the sensitivity of near-surface meteorological variables to sea ice concentration in winter, and the surface processes related to melting of sea ice in summer. She is also interested in the atmospheric effects of small Antarctic nunatacs.

She developed her passion for winter and snow already as a child when growing up in Eastern Finland. As an undergraduate student, she spent a year on Svalbard and fell in love with the landscape and the harsh climate of the treeless Arctic. Prior to working on Polar research, Teresa had a promising career in aviation meteorology working as a duty weather forecaster, as a weather observer and in weather briefing for pilots but she decided to go for Polar research which she felt passionate about.

Recently, Teresa's interest in education and outreach has grown, and she has organized activities for preschool-aged children in her present home town Oslo. She wants to inspire children, especially girls, to become interested in science. When not working, Teresa loves to spend her time outdoors, preferably hiking or skiing in the beautiful Norwegian mountains.

A fantastic oppotunity for science communication training...!

The University of Lorraine (Nancy, France) is inviting 100 budding researchers to take part in a two-day training event as well as the International Conference on Science Communication (from 2 to 7 September). Participants will learn about science communication in workshops supervised by professionals, after which they will attend the entire conference.

Date: September 2 - 7, 2012

Place: Nancy (France)

Open to: all PhD. students, whatever their discipline and nationality

PhD. Students are invited to choose one among the 10 proposed workshops

- scientific films and video

- the radio, from the interview to the recording studio

- writing workshops

- theatre and the sciences

- the work of the clown

- designing an exhibition

- hands-on science with a young audience

- the graphic arts and cartoons for science

- photography

- the Web, blogs and social networks

How to register:

• These training days are free (including training, accommodation, meals and local transport, conference registration)

• PhD. Students wishing to participate are invited to register on this form online at: until April 13, 2012.

• A letter of motivation and a letter of agreement of the supervisor or laboratory director, and a copy of student card, are to be attached to any application.

• Successful applicants will be informed by mail in April 2012 and must confirm their attendance by return mail.

For more information see the website:

... here is what you need to know!

If you have sign yourself to be a polar researcher to share your experiences on a webinar connectin educators, shools and students you are in the right place.

A few things to consider:

1.The first thing you want to do is connect with your audience. In your powerpoint include a head shot of yourself so that people can picture you as you are speaking.

2. Most the students you are speaking with do not have any direct connection with science or research, you need to make that connection.  Include some fun facts about yourself (where you grew up, where you live, what you liked doing as a kid etc). You need to make the connection between yourself, and the students.

3. You can really only communicate one main idea about your research to the audience, and it has to be a straight forward one.  You can share a neat result, or a cool techinque, just make sure that it is something that you can communicate in a few words in a simple format.  When you are preparing picture yourself explaining things to a thrid grader. This is the level that we are going for to make sure everyone is following.

4. Use lots of picutes, and few words. You want to capture the attention of the audience! You want to wow them!  Make sure that you have fun colouful pictures that are clear and in focus.  Like they say, pictures are worth a thousand words.

You can see a sample presentation here.

Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences and shape the future of polar research!

The newly engerized Educaiton and Outreach Committee is currently planning Polar Week in March 2012. The goal of collaborative event is to bring together people and groups interested in polar issues in a number of fun and interactive events.  To learn how you can take part or get invovled please visit the Polar Week March 2012 page.

The APECS Education and Outreach Committee is currently looking for new committe members and project ideas.  After some downtime for the group after IPY our goal is to reinviogorate the APECS EO community in 2012.  If you want to get involved in a project, have some ideas about new projects you would be interested in leading, or just want some more information please contact the EOC co-chair, Heidi Roop, at

The National Film Board of Canada in collaboration with the Inuit Relations Secretariat of Aboriginal Affairs and the Northern Development Canada and the Government of Nunavut, Department of Education, and with the support of Inuit organizations, has selected over 40 films from its collection that represent the four Inuit regions of Canada (Nunasiavut, Nunavik, Nunavut, and Inuvialuit).  These films are now being screened at various locations in Canada, as well as are available to stream online.  These films span many years and have been unaltered from their original versions, and as such are interesting tools for learning about Canadian Inuit culture and the past and present relationships between Inuit and interacting cultures.  

See the playlist for these films at

Launched in June on World Oceans Day, this competition is a celebration of the last wild ocean on Earth – the Ross Sea, Antarctica.

The Last Ocean Charitable Trust values the Ross Sea for the intact qualities of the ecosystem, the unique wildlife and sheer natural beauty. This competition is our way of sharing part of the magic of the Ross Sea with upcoming filmmakers by giving them a chance to edit and craft a short film using supplied footage. Thanks to cameraman Pete Young, photographer John Weller and Natural History New Zealand for providing the beautiful images.

Please enjoy the films and be sure to share your favourites with friends. The number of hits will be considered by the judges so spread the word!


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