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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Heading Home

Most of us flew out of Churchill this morning to -53C temperatures. In Winnipeg, most caught connecting flights, either to the way home or off to another adventure. Some of us have an overnight in Winnipeg.

It was not easy to say good-bye. After all, for the past 10+ days we have endured some challenging weather conditions, seen some amazing displays of nature in the northern lights, witnessed the beauty of an ecosystem in a truly intense season, and shared so many laughs that it is hard to believe that we did not know each other prior to this experience. How is it that we have been able to work so well together....when we have come from many different places on this earth; have such different backgrounds, customs and beliefs, interests, ages, native languages, and jobs?

Is it the mission of the work that allowed us to work so well? Is it the leadership of the principal scientist, Dr. Peter Kershaw? Is it the intensity of the conditions? Is it the human spirit? I think it is all those things and more. I am feeling a huge sense of satisfaction and renewal as a result of this experience.

I am hoping that my fellow teammates will chime in and give some feedback on this blog and share their thoughts with my students.

For my students, continue to read this blog and spend your class time on Thursday completing any assignments that you have not posted to. Thursday will be the last day to finish any undone assignments.

I am looking forward to seeing you on Friday to share more of my adventures.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Volunteer Around the World

Two people I met during my time at the Northern Studies Centre are volunteers in the kitchen. Lucy and Steve have both had very interesting experiences traveling the world, volunteering on research projects, getting paying jobs to fund their travels and then heading out again to volunteer and travel the world. Their experiences have been fascinating......

Lucy started her international travels when she was only 18 years old. She became an au pair (a nanny) for a family in the Boston area. Lucy grew up in England so the journey to the States was quite an adventure. While in the States, she also travelled to the West Coast. Afterwards, she went back to England to take her A Levels (the exam that gave her high school credit and was required to go onto university). After a bit of time, Lucy found herself ending a relationship, losing her job, and having to give up her house. If this sounds bleak to you; it wasn't for Lucy. It was the kick in the caboose for her to do the traveling that she had always wanted to do. She decided to go to Australia through Thailand, but once there ended up in Malaysia, Laos, Singapore, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Once in Australia, Lucy had a variety of jobs including grape harvesting, working at a outback bar, cleaning, and massage. In all, Lucy ended up spending 18 months in Australia before she went back to England to work and earn more money to travel back to New Zealand. While in New Zealand, Lucy worked at a dairy farm, and a sheep ranch. Lucy found out about the job at the Northern Studies Centre in Churchill by randomly searching on the Internet. She will work here for a little over 1 month and then continue her travels to the west, maybe to Alaska.

For Steve, he has always felt that animals need a voice. Many of his travels and volunteer experiences revolve around caring for and rehabilitating animals. But he also done a variety of humanitarian related work. His experiences include hands-on work with animals, construction as well as cooking for guests. He has worked with gibbons in Thailand, orangutans in Borneo, and rehabilitating dancing bears in Agra, India. Steve has also done humanitarian work in Nepal at an orphanage for street children. He will continue his humanitarian work by next travelling to India to help build homes for people displaced by the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Steve says "There is no better way to see the world than through volunteer work."
Steve recommended the book, The Lonely Planet's Guide to Volunteer Opportunities. I found an Internet link to some of the same information: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/volunteer/index.cfm

Tuesday's assignment:
Go to the Lonely Planet web site and look at volunteer opportunities that interest you. Pick one and write a paragraph (at least 5 sentences). Tell me about the volunteer position AND why you are interested in the job. Please remember to use Spell Check. Again, if you are having difficulty posting the assignment to the blog site, please print off a copy and give it to Mrs. M.

How Can You Tell That The Temperature is More Than -50C?

If you did not have a thermometer,
how could you tell that the temperature was more than
-50C? Here are some photos of me and my teammates. See what we all have in common?

Answer: Eyelash Icicles : D

After our video conference this morning, I went out in the field to do the final tree sampling. We were lucky the winds were not too bad but the temperatures were still brutal. Fortunately, we only had to sample from 1 site so we were only out for approximately 1 hour. Afterwards we came back to the Northern Studies Center and took group photos. The photo below shows all the women working on the project. This photo is going to be sent to Glamour magazine in both the Unites States and England. Apparently, Glamour magazine publishes photos of readers who include a copy of the magazine in their photograph. In the photo, you will see a copy of both the UK and US versions of the magazine.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tuesday's Video Conference

I am looking forward to our video conference on Tuesday morning. There will be time for questions, so be thinking about what you might want to ask me.

Your assignment for Tuesday is to finish Monday's assignment. Several people did not answer the comet questions. Make sure you answer both sets of questions - northern lights and comets. If you are having difficulty posting onto the blog site, just print out a copy of your answers and give the page to Mrs. M. Make sure you spell check and put your name on the paper.

News Flash - I Survived the Night in an Igloo But Northern Lights and Comet Hidden by Clouds

Yes, we survived our night in the igloo. My teammate, Oonah (a college student from Wales) and I stayed toasty warm; but the smallest member of our team, Eunice (a doctor from Australia) was a little cold all night. All in all, it was a successful night. The temperatures outside were in the mid -20Cs with windchill of -35Cs. Of course we did not have to deal with a windchill since we were in the igloo and the great insulating properties of the snow probably kept the temperatures inside around the -10Cs. I will post my pictures later this evening.

Unfortunately, we were not able to see any northern lights or the comet because we had clouds and snow flurries. We are keeping are fingers crossed that tonight and Tuesday night will be clear. Tuesday night is our last night together as a team. It has been a fun and challenging 1 1/2 weeks and it will sad when we all go our separate ways. Luckily, we will be able to keep in touch as most folks have Facebook and we are sharing each others addresses.

That's all for now...we are heading back out into the field this morning. The low clouds, wind, and snow flakes continue...

Aurora Borealis in Full View

The aurora borealis or northern lights are now occurring almost every night that we have clear skies. The following photographs were taken on Saturday night/Sunday morning by an English visitor to the Northern Studies Centre who is here taking an aurora borealis class. I am hoping to take some photographs and maybe some digital videos tonight when the lights are back out.

Welcome back from your mid-winter break!

Your Monday assignment relates to the Northern Lights. Remember to write your answers as complete sentences using Spell Check. It is very obvious when you do not use SpellCheck.

1. What is another name for the Northern Lights?
2. What causes the Northern Lights?
3. What is the name given to the other Northern Lights? What makes them different?
4. What causes the different colors in the Northern Lights?
5. Why is Churchill, Manitoba a great place to see the Northern Lights?
6. Is it possible to see the Northern Lights in New York state?

In addition to the Northern Lights, there is also an opportunity to see a comet for the next few days. So here are questions that you should answer related to the comet.

7. What is the name of the comet that I am looking for?
8. What causes a comet?
9. Can this comet be seen in New York State?
10. Where in the sky should you look for the comet?

I hope to see you all on Tuesday morning during our video conference. I think you are going to enjoying seeing some of the items I will be showing you. Remember to talk to your 1st or 2nd period teacher to get their permission to come to the Media Center.