Bringing landscape science to the classroom

Sally Kieper from UAF's School of Education invited ABR Senior Scientist Dr. JJ Frost to come with her to Unalakleet, AK as a visiting scientist to speak with classes K-12 about environmental science and change. Rather than drone on and on about Science, he thought it would be cool to have students explore changes in their own community and surrounding landscape.

He used Geographic Information Systems (GIS)  to create a ArcGIS "story map" that students could access on tablets/laptops using a simple internet connection. This tool provides a look at high-resolution imagery from ~1950 and modern times. Students panned around the modern (color) image and zoomed in/out. They also moved the loupe around to peer into 1951 (B&W) image.

Exploring the Unalakleet Story Map

The kids hunted for a few "Waldo" characters in the 1951 image, strategically placed at locations with obvious environmental change to guide group discussion (e.g., coastal erosion, tree and shrub expansion, and permafrost-related disturbances).

The tundra soil plug was a big hit, providing hands-on exposure to the plants, roots, and soil critters. The science presentation was greatly enhanced by elder teaching aides in some of the classes, who had some really cool things to say about their own observations and traditional uses of sod and plants. 

 

We are lucky to walk out of every classroom having learned a bit more than what we knew when we walked in. Thank you, Unalakleet!

ABR's triple bottom line: "Environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic viability"