Archive for the ‘Follow a Researcher’ Category

Lynn’s Blog: October 29th — Setup of Robot Camp

Monday, November 27th, 2017
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Follow a Researcher!®
Expedition 3: Antarctica

Lynn’s Blog

October 29th — Setup of Robot Camp

Lynn Kaluzienski

***Sorry for the delay in posting the following blog entry. Unlike my previous post would suggest, I haven’t been stuck at SPoT camp indefinitely. I’ve actually finished my field season (spoiler alert: it was successful) and made it back to Maine. While the following entries were written in the field, I’ve waited to post them to avoid bandwidth issues at McMurdo. I’ll continue posting on a semi-daily basis through the end of my journey.

Today we had perfect weather and made the 15 km ride to our new camp location. The team split into two groups; three of us rode by snowmobile and the other three followed by piston bully. Once we arrived we immediately set to work erecting tents, organizing equipment, and making our home both “bomb proof” and comfy.

Building a snow wall

Building a snow wall: Using a snow axe and shovel, I carefully measure and cut blocks of ice to excavate and stack along the side of my tent to prevent the prevailing southerly winds. I also relied on Seth Campbell to help move the super heavy blocks (or the ones I forgot to cut in half).

Its hard to imagine on a beautiful day like this that a storm could be around the corner, but its always possible. To prepare for heavy winds and blowing snow we anchor our tents with hundreds of bamboo poles. We also build snow walls to shield our personal tents from southerly gusts (no one likes to dig out ) and make sure all equipment that is stored outside is strapped down.

Tent and equipment behind snow wall

My new home! And all the stuff I have to fit in it.

Once everything is secure we move on to organizing our equipment, setting up the kitchen, and melting snow for water. Its easy to get caught up in the task at hand and forget the time, especially with little change in sunlight. It wasn’t until I came inside out of the cold for dinner (burritos, yum!) that I realized I hadn’t reapplied sunburn. In my past two years of fieldwork, the weather almost always warranted face protection from the wind and cold (such as a balaclava or buff), but even the best days require constant self-preservation from the elements.

Inside the cook tent

Hanging out in the cook tent, doing what we do best.

 

Lynn inside her tent

Inside my humble abode. There’s just enough room to sit and enjoy a book.

Follow a Researcher®: Developing and Using Models

Monday, November 27th, 2017
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Follow a Researcher®

Developing and Using Models

Catching up, looking ahead, and more scientific practices

In last week’s video, Lynn described planning and carrying out her investigation as she set out to collect data in the field. In our final video of this expedition, Lynn discusses how she will use those data to help tell the story of the Ross Ice Shelf and its behavior by developing and using models.

First, let’s talk about what we mean by “models.”

Models give us simpler ways to represent complicated situations or phenomena from the real world that we might    not actually be able to see. Scientists use models as tools for “thinking with, making predictions, and making sense of experience.” Models also help scientists develop questions and explanations, and communicate their ideas and understanding to others (NRC, 2011, pp. 56-57). As you can see, models are involved with lots of scientific practices!

Let’s keep in mind that models simply represent and explain “the real thing.” While we might think of a model as a physical replica like a globe used to model the earth, models exist in many different forms.

Some examples are:

  • diagrams,
  • physical replicas,
  • mathematical representations,
  • analogies,
  • mental models,
  • and computer simulations.

It is important to remember that since no model is exactly like the thing that it describes, all models have their merits (things they are good at describing), as well as their limitations (things they aren’t so good at describing).

Investigate the model with Lynn!

Lynn demonstrates how she will be using the GPS data that she gathered to describe how the surface of the ice shelf is moving. If you haven’t had a chance to do the experiment using flubber, download the activity (PDF).

We would love to hear about your investigation! Send us some pictures and let us know what you found out by emailing us at umainefar@maine.edu.

What do you think?

Here are some questions to discuss with your class, or to investigate on your own!

  • What were some of the models used by Lynn in this video? What did they represent? Why is she using more than one source of data?
  • What models have you used before in the classroom? Outside of school?
  • Why are models important for both teaching and learning?
  • What might cause a model to change or be improved over time?

Have more questions?

Thank you so much for joining us!

We are so glad that you took part in Lynn’s journey! We hope that her story has sparked your curiosity and given you an inside look at the life and work of a scientist!

Please stay tuned to our website and Twitter feed in the coming weeks. We will be sharing more videos and pictures from Lynn’s trip to Antarctica!

Finally, we are already planning our expedition for Spring 2018! Be on the lookout for more info and registration details!

Lynn’s Blog: October 28th — Destination SPoT Camp

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017
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Follow a Researcher!®
Expedition 3: Antarctica

Lynn’s Blog

October 28th — Destination SPoT Camp

Lynn Kaluzienski

Joshua Elliott, Peter Braddock, Austin Lines, and Lynn Kaluzienski pose for photo in front of SPoT camp, Antarctica

Joshua Elliott, Peter Braddock, Austin Lines, and Lynn Kaluzienski pose for photo in front of SPoT camp

Well, our good weather window has closed and we’ve been camped out at the South Pole Traverse (SPoT) Camp for the past 3 days. While we had good weather the first night we arrived, the weather worsened when we were ready to leave. We elected to stay and wait out the weather instead of setting up camp in blowing slow and little visibility.

High winds, blowing snow and low visibility at SPoT base, Antarctica.

High winds, blowing snow and low visibility at SPoT base.

Lynn’s Blog: October 24th — Surveying the Route

Thursday, November 9th, 2017
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Follow a Researcher!®
Expedition 3: Antarctica

Lynn’s Blog

October 24th — Surveying the Route

Lynn Kaluzienski

The field work begins!

Our group is heading to a new site for fieldwork this year approximately 15km south of where we camped last year. In order to make sure the route is safe for travel, I used high resolution satellite imagery and derived strain rates for the region to map out a potential road. Then we survey route with a piston bully and boom out front with radar to make sure there are no crevasses along the route that we won’t be able to cross.

Map of the region. The yellow box highlights our previous field site and the purple box shows this year’s field site.

Map of the region. The yellow box highlights our previous field site and the purple box shows this year’s field site.

 

Strain rate grid overlaid on Sentinel 1 satellite image. Warmer colors have a higher strain rate and are most likely to be crevassed. Pink line shows South Pole Traverse Route, and purple line shows the route we’ve selected.

Strain rate grid overlaid on Sentinel 1 satellite image. Warmer colors have a higher strain rate and are most likely to be crevassed. Pink line shows South Pole Traverse Route, and purple line shows the route we’ve selected.

Seth Campbell, Jim Lever, and I headed out to survey the route while the rest of the team stayed in McMurdo for an additional day to finish packing up the remaining gear. Once we  surveyed the route and found it safe the South Pole Traverse Crew helped tow our heavy gear to camp. They also let us stay at their base overnight (15km from where we’ll set up camp) while we wait of the rest of our team to arrive with the rest of our tents and equipment.

Lynn Kaluzienski‏ and fellow researcher surveying the route

I drive the Piston Bully as Seth Campbell looks at the data along the route to our new camp.

 

boom and radar unit out in front of the Piston Bully

Photo of boom and radar unit out in front of the Piston Bully.

 

South Pole Traverse Team helps unload gear at our new camp site. A portrait of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen adorns the cargo box that houses the robots.

South Pole Traverse Team helps unload gear at our new camp site. A portrait of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen adorns the cargo box that houses the robots.

Follow a Researcher®: Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Friday, November 3rd, 2017
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Follow a Researcher®

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Catching up, looking ahead, and more scientific practices

In last week’s video, Lynn described collecting and evaluating information to direct her focus on the problem of global sea level rise, and its connection to the stability of Antarctic ice shelves. Another step in Lynn’s process was to define problems and design solutions to keep the team safe as they work in the field.

This week, we put the pieces together to plan an investigation. Lynn has developed her three research questions and decided what information she will need to gather to help her answer them. The next step is making plans to identify the best locations and methods to gather those data. Lynn will discuss how she will be planning and carrying out investigations.

Like we have mentioned before, these are all practices of scientists and engineers. You might notice that some of these practices will show up more than once and rarely by themselves. This is because the practices are so connected to one another that it is difficult to imagine using only one without one or more others at the same time.

If you’ve ever been on a camping trip, you know how much planning and preparation are involved. You might have experienced a time when you brought too much, or even worse, forgot something important. These mistakes can impact your goals for the trip by affecting how you will meet them, and if they can still be met.

Setting Goals

Lynn must clearly define her goals, or criteria, for the trip. “Criterion” (singular) is a term often used in engineering to define a measure for success. Lynn will be successful if she meets criteria such as:

  • staying safe and healthy while in the field,
  • reaching her destinations,
  • collecting enough data,
  • keeping detailed notes, and
  • using the data to answer her research questions.

How will we increase our chance for success?

The task doesn’t end there. Now that Lynn’s criteria for success are defined, she needs to figure out how to meet them most efficiently.

As observers, we have the luxury of imagining the best ways of accomplishing these goals. However, using jetpacks to get from place to place on the ice shelf, or using x-ray vision to locate crevassing may not be the most realistic options when it comes to Lynn’s available resources.

Things like time, money, people, equipment, and weather conditions are referred to as constraints in engineering. “Constraints” limit us to doing what we can with what we have. Unfortunately for Lynn, the life of a field researcher is typically not one of luxury. Operating with limited resources means that careful planning is required, as the room for mistakes is much smaller when you are so far from home on a slab of ice with no cell phone service. Since Lynn must endure harsh weather conditions and will have limited access to local resources, the constraints are significant. An expedition like Lynn’s is something that must truly be “engineered.”

Putting the pieces together

To meet the criteria while considering the constraints, Lynn must revisit her research question: “Is the Ross Ice Shelf speeding up or changing its flow pattern?” As Lynn explains in the video, answering this question involves lots of smaller, but important questions that the team must answer to be well-prepared.

Long before heading out to the field site, answers must be carefully considered to questions such as:

  • What are we trying to find out?
  • What do we think our results might be?
  • What information will we need to use as evidence that can be used to evaluate our predictions?
  • Where will these data come from?
  • How much data do we need?
  • Where do we need to go?
  • What do we need to bring?
  • Should I pack my bathing suit, or my snowsuit?
  • What will we eat?
  • How will we cook?
  • How many days will we need? and
  • How do we get the samples back home safely?

You, the scientist

In the process of planning and carrying out her investigation, Lynn must use additional science and engineering practices. Lynn will have to think and act like an engineer by defining problems and creating solutions to answer questions she has as a scientist. You may notice that in your science experiences both in and out of school, you too are using multiple practices when planning and carrying out investigations.

What do you think?

Here are some questions to discuss with your class, or to investigate on your own!

  • What are your experiences with planning a trip and the gear that you would need?
  • What kind of information did you need ahead of time to know what to pack?
  • Why is a field notebook so important? What do you think Lynn is writing in her notebook? What kinds of equipment should scientists bring with them on remote expeditions?
  • If Lynn doesn’t find data that supports her hypothesis, did she fail? Is the information that we get still important? What would you pack with you on a trip like this?
  • Do we plan and carry out investigations like scientists in our daily lives? In what ways have you thought like a scientist lately? An engineer?
  • What are other ways that engineering is incorporated into Lynn’s expedition?

Have more questions?

Join the next live chat on Thursday, November 9 at 1:00 PM (EDT) by searching the hashtag: #umainefar. Subscribe to 4-H Follow a Researcher® calendar: iCal HTML

USDA Posts Blog About Follow a Researcher®

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017
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Lynn and Peter in front of a helicopter in AntarcticaUnited States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) posted a blog about Follow a Researcher®, written by guest author Dr. Lisa Phelps, Program Administrator with University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Read the post at 4-H invites students to tag along on Antarctic expedition.

 

Follow a Researcher®: How do scientists know what data to collect and how to collect it?

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017
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Follow a Researcher®

How do scientists know what data to collect and how to collect it?

Catching up, looking ahead, and more scientific practices

In last week’s video, Lynn described asking questions and defining problems to direct her focus on the problem of global sea level rise, and its connection to the stability of Antarctic ice shelves. Another step in Lynn’s process was to gather and evaluate information from suggestions made in previous research studies and observations of past events to help develop some testable research questions.

This week, we revisit those questions as Lynn explains how they are used to make decisions about what data will be needed to help answer those questions, and making plans to identify the best locations and methods to gather those data. Lynn will discuss how she will be gathering and analyzing data, planning and carrying out investigations, and designing solutions to problems.

Like we have mentioned before, these are all practices of scientists and engineers. You might notice that some of these practices will show up more than once and rarely by themselves. This is because the practices are so connected to one another that it is difficult to imagine using only one without one or more others at the same time.

For example, if you saw a puddle of water in the middle of the floor (hopefully before you stepped in it), you would immediately start thinking about how it got there, coming up with possible explanations, planning some ways of testing those ideas, and more! It’s just what we do! It’s what makes us all scientists!

Like us, Lynn is doing what scientists do by using many of these practices to answer questions about the Ross Ice Shelf.

Research questions and how they might be answered

Lynn is asking three questions:

  1. Is the Ross Ice Shelf speeding up or changing its flow pattern;
  2. Are there indications of crevassing within the ice that can tell us more;
  3. What areas of the ice shelf are most important in pushing back glaciers?

In order to answer these questions, Lynn will need to rely on observations of events like the collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf, and the research of other scientists. These sources tell us that as Larsen B began to break apart, ice began to enter the ocean much more quickly than before. We also know that there are some signs that indicate how stable an ice shelf is, such as changes in its flow and crevassing below the surface.

Is the Ross showing any of these signs? How can we measure them?

GPS, GPR and DANGER!

Lynn’s team has decided to collect data from a region called the McMurdo Shear Zone. As we see in the video, this is where the two ice shelves, Ross and McMurdo meet. Since the two ice shelves are moving at different speeds and in contact with each other, a force is caused between the ice shelves called “friction.” This force causes the Ross to move more slowly than it would without McMurdo rubbing against it.

Illustration showing friction between the McMurdo and Ross ice shelves

Friction also causes the ice between them to “shear,” or stretch and break, as it is pulled and stretched by the ice shelves, creating an area of crack and crevasses. Gathering information about these crevasses will also help Lynn answer her questions about the future stability of the Ross.

Is the motion of the ice shelf changing?

  • Thanks to Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, Lynn will be able to collect very accurate data tracking the position of points on the ice shelf using satellites to locate the GPS receivers installed by the team. Later, she will be able to notice if the motion is changing over time.

Is there evidence of crevassing in the shear zone?

  • Using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) technology, Lynn’s team will collect information about the ice below the surface. As she mentions, the size, distribution, and orientation of crevasses will tell her more about how stable the ice is.

Illustration showing how using transmitters and receivers of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) technology, Lynn’s team can collect information about the ice below the surface.

Watch your step!

Antarctica is a dangerous place to work, with many of the hazards hidden beneath seemingly flat snow cover. Thanks to problem solving efforts of Dartmouth engineering students and their project director, Dr. Laura Ray, Yeti is up for the challenge. This Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) will drag the GPR unit across the ice to make data collection safer for the team. Additionally, the team has spent the past few weeks participating in extensive safety training before heading out to the field site.

What do you think?

Here are some questions to discuss with your class, or to investigate on your own!

Specific questions:

  • What are some other ways we could use GPR and Yeti?
  • What places would it be helpful to send a robot instead of a human?

Broader questions:

  • Can you think of another time when you needed more information before trying to answer a question of your own?
  • How did you decide where to get the information, and how did it inform your next steps?

Have more questions?

Other resources:

Join the next live chat on Thursday, November 2 at 1:00 PM (EDT) by searching the hashtag: #umainefar. Subscribe to 4-H Follow a Researcher® calendar: iCal HTML

4-H invites students to tag along on Antarctic expedition

Friday, October 20th, 2017
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By Dr. Lisa Phelps, Program Administrator with University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Lynne and other researchers on Observation Hill

Research team hikes up Observation Hill near McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

A unique program in Maine is giving teachers around the country the opportunity to let their students tag along with a researcher in the field. The program shows K-12 students the real-life scientific journeys that a STEM-rich (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education can provide.

Follow a Researcher® is an innovative University of Maine (UMaine) 4-H program that uses technology and social media to connect K-12 classrooms with graduate students conducting field research in remote locations. One student, Lynn Kaluzienski, is using physics and geology to study the McMurdo Shear Zone in Antarctica.

Lynn and a team of scientists, engineers, and mountaineers are conducting scientific tests to determine how stable the Ross Ice Shelf will be in the future and how Antarctic sea ice melt may affect sea level rise. Follow a Researcher® is partially funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through UMaine Cooperative Extension.

Lynn’s project is the third Follow the Researcher® expedition. The first expedition went to Peru in March and April 2015 to search for evidence of historic climate change events in glacial snow and ice. The second expedition went to the Falkland Islands in January and February 2016. More than 1,800 youth and 88 adults followed along to help unravel the mystery of how and when the warrah, an extinct species of fox, reached the Falklands and what caused its extinction. More than 2500 youth and 200 adults from 12 states are signed up to follow Lynn’s expedition.

“We give students a glimpse into a scientist’s world by providing live expedition updates via weekly twitter chats. Their questions may be generated by a video or anything else students want to know about the expedition,” said Gregory Kranich, UMaine Cooperative Extension 4-H Science Youth Development Professional. “We also provide information on how educators may use this information in their classrooms, including demonstrations and experiential learning activities.”

The K-12 students who tag along virtually are not the only ones who learn from the experience, said Laura Wilson, UMaine Cooperative Extension 4-H Science Youth Development Professional. The researcher also learns from their interactions with the youth.

“The researchers are excited to share their experiences,” she said. “They are eager to deliver the message that being a scientist opens up amazing opportunities.”

One of the special aspects of Follow a Researcher® is that the emphasis is on who scientists are and what they do. Rather than being a content-driven experience, youth participants become agents of their own learning and are able to decide what information is relevant to them. We set the stage, but youth drive the Q&A sessions, pushing their learning beyond the scope we had imagined.

For more information about Follow a Researcher®, call 800.287.0274 (in Maine) or email UMaineFAR@Maine.edu.

ABC7 and FOX22 report on Follow a Researcher®

Friday, October 20th, 2017
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If you ever wanted to follow a scientist, now is your chance. A graduate student from the University of Maine is in Antarctica testing glaciers and bringing students along on the journey with her through social media. Read the whole story and watch the video report by reporter Shonna Narine.

Lynn’s Blog: October 20th — Hurry Up and Wait

Friday, October 20th, 2017
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Follow a Researcher!®
Expedition 3: Antarctica

Lynn’s Blog

October 20th — Hurry Up and Wait

Lynn Kaluzienski

The team sets up pulley systems for Crevasse Safety Training

The team sets up pulley systems for Crevasse Safety Training.

It’s been a busy week at McMurdo Base getting ready for our trip out on the ice. We’re one of the first science teams to arrive this season, and the station is still gearing up after the long winter. Though it’s been a slow start to the season, we’ve accomplished a lot on our To Do List.

First, the team has completed quite a bit of training which includes: Field Safety Training, Environmental Awareness Training, Crevasse Safety Training, Light Vehicle Training, Snowmobile Training, and Helicopter Safety Training. It doesn’t matter if it is your first field season, or 36th (like Peter Braddock, our mountaineer) you have to complete the same list of trainings every year. It might seem redundant, but these seminars cover skills that we don’t practice often and it’s a good idea to have a refresher.

The team packs enough food to feed 6 hungry campers for 2 weeks

The team packs enough food to feed six hungry campers for two weeks.

Second, we’ve packed A LOT of gear, equipment, fuel, and food into boxes and loaded them on sleds to be towed out to our camp ~65km away.

Third, weʼve worked out coordinating efforts with several groups here on base, including the South Pole Traverse, Helicopter Operations, MacOPS (McMurdo Communications), FSTOP (Field Safety Training Operations), BFC (Byrd Field Center for field party equipment), and others. It takes a lot of moving pieces to get science teams like us into the field; none of it would be possible without the support of the amazing personnel here at McMurdo.

And of course, after all of our hustling to get things done we’re delayed by weather.

researchers out in the storm