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Kids work at computers.
Photo Credit: Nell Hermann
The Polar Ambassador Club, a group of 20 high school students  work closely with seventh grade students to increase awareness of Palmer Station LTER research during the field season.

Beyond the research

Palmer LTER expands its education and outreach effort

A large part of advancing the public’s understanding of climate change along the Antarctic Peninsula involves outreach from both Palmer Station External U.S. government site and aboard the research vessel Laurence M. Gould External U.S. government site

Palmer LTER Education and Outreach coordinator Beth Simmons is actively developing ways to transfer this knowledge to the public. Simmons has partnered with the Sandwich STEM Academy External Non-U.S. government site in Massachusetts, utilizing webcam External U.S. government site technology to transport 500 students in real-time to Torgersen Island, the site of an Adélie penguin rookery, located about two kilometers from Palmer Station.

Photo Credit: Jon Brack/Antarctic Photo Library
Adélie penguins on Torgersen Island, where a webcam during the austral summer allows the public to view the breeding colony.

“The webcam will serve as a vehicle to engage students in virtual ‘scientific research sessions,’ collecting observational data related to the arrival and survival of our iconic Adélie penguins,” she said.

Simmons said that one of the advantages of using this technology is that “it will also afford students several opportunities to participate in collaborative ‘instant video chats’ with leading penguin experts while they conduct their observations.”

With an 80 percent decrease in the population of sea ice-dependent Adélie penguins in the Palmer area, these kinds of experiences serve as powerful ways for students to witness the effects of climate change at the ends of the Earth from their iPads, according to Simmons.

The project will launch in September 2014, and the Palmer LTER’s new website External Non-U.S. government site will serve as a driving force in bringing the science to broader audiences, including entire school districts.

Return to main story — Never a dull moment: Palmer LTER scientists still encounter surprises after 22 years of observations.