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Innovative collaboration brings Arctic science into the classroom

An upcoming expedition to study the Yukon and Mackenzie Rivers is not simply a research project for R. Max Holmes, an associate scientist at The Woods Hole Research Center. It is also a means to integrate education and outreach into his work.

In June and July, Dr. Holmes, an ecosystem scientist with broad interests in the responses and feedbacks of ecosystems to environmental and global change, will travel from Woods Hole, Massachusetts, to Canada and Alaska as part the PARTNERS program (Pan-Arctic River Transport of Nutrients, Organic Matter and Suspended Sediments). This 5-year, $2 million project, sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation, is a collaboration of 4 nations to study fresh-water discharge from Russian, Alaskan, and Canadian rivers into the Arctic Ocean. Accompanying him on his travels will be Amy Clapp, an elementary school teacher from Salisbury, Vermont, as part of Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating (TREC). TREC, a program in which K-12 teachers participate in Arctic research and work closely with scientists as a pathway to improving science education through teachers' experiences in scientific inquiry, builds on the outstanding scientific and cultural opportunities of the Arctic to link research and education through intriguing topics that will engage students and the wider public. This is Dr. Holmes' second year of participating in TREC. During their expedition, Holmes and Clapp will have daily communications with students and the public, using a satellite phone hooked to a laptop computer for internet communications. According to Holmes, "Getting kids excited about science is the most important thing. If they realize that science is an exciting process as opposed to a bunch of boring facts to memorize from textbooks, then this program will have been a tremendous success."

In addition to his work with TREC in the Arctic, Holmes has taken other opportunities to creatively connect science and education. In 2
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Source:Woods Hole Research Center


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