Continuously growing in popularity, this year’s edition of Arctic Frontiers Science for Schools, organized by APECS and the Science Centre of Northern Norway, brought together well over 100 students from five different schools in Tromsø. Living above the Arctic circle means the kids are very familiar with ice and snow, but most of them have so far not had the occasion to see what scientific research really entails. Scientists from five different countries, either living in Tromsø or abroad, shared their first-hand experiences of what it’s like to do research in Polar environments – whether it be drilling ice cores, investigating the rich sea life through diving or deep-sea cameras, or learning about permafrost through cartoons. They were amazed by the beautiful underwater photography of Peter Leopold and fascinated by Kirstin Werner explaining how ocean sediment cores can be used to say what the climate was like thousands of years ago. Thanks to Polona Itkin and Anja Rösel they also nearly all got a chance to saw through a real piece of sea-ice and find out just how salty it really is!
After the presentations and hands-on experiences it was the turn of the students to impress us with their excellent posters. Grade 10 classes presented their projects on Tuesday and Thursday, while the more advanced grade 12 class presented the experiments they had carried out on Wednesday. For many of them this was the very first time they presented a poster at a mini scientific conference – and they did an absolutely fantastic job! The level of English was just astounding, not to mention their enthusiasm as well as the well-thought out research projects.
The excellent quality of all the projects meant that for those of us serving as judges we had an extremely difficult task on our hands! We evaluated the posters and learnt a lot from the students through our discussions about their topics of choice, which ranged all the way from understanding the impact of climate change on different Arctic species through to whether munition from the local shooting range was polluting nearby freshwater streams.
After some very difficult decisions, we chose one winner from each day of the event. They were: My name is carbon, black carbon (Tuesday); Heavy metal seaweed (Wednesday); and An ocean of problems (Thursday). The overall winners of the Grade 10 classes was An ocean of problems. There is definitely enormous potential in the next generation of scientists!
We want to warmly thank all the great speakers who volunteered their time to be part of the Science for Schools event: Anja Rösel, Polona Itkin, Charlotte Havermans, Julie LePage, Kristin Werner, Peter Leopold, Lawrence Hislop, and Mona Fuhrmann.
Photos: Alberto Grohavaz