Polar Science: JSEP and Beyond

Over the past three years, Dartmouth graduate students and faculty have been working with high school educators from New Hampshire and Vermont to develop a set of polar science lesson plans for use in high school classrooms. Each JSEP Graduate Fellow is tasked with developing a stand-alone lesson plan, based on their work with JSEP students in Greenland, that will become freely accessible as a community resource for K-12 teachers. Each lesson plan targets specific Next Generation Science Standards or Common Core while highlighting the importance of polar environments and polar science.

Today we are excited to share the first of those lesson plans. Created by recent Earth Science graduate Dr. Ruth Heindel, The World of Lichens introduces students to these symbiotic organisms that can survive in some of the harshest environments on Earth. Students complete an inquiry-driven project and get hands-on practice with the scientific method while learning about the important role that lichens play in ecosystems and as a scientific tool. Follow the link above for the lesson plan and supporting materials, including Dr. Heindel’s video: The World of Lichens: Beautiful & Underappreciated.

We owe a huge thanks to Dr. Heindel for her great contributions to JSEP and her dedication to inspiring students though her science, teaching, and art. Dr. Heindel is now a post-doc at INSTAAR in Boulder, Colorado where she is continuing her research on landscape evolution and biogeochemical cycling in rapidly changing alpine and polar environments.

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Dr. Ruth Heindel speaks to JSEP high school students in Greenland, July 2016. 



#JSEP17: Students and Polar Research

Each year the JSEP program brings students from the US, Greenland, and Denmark to Kangerlussuaq and Summit, Greenland for three weeks of hands-on polar science. Students work in teams to study various aspects of polar environments and to produce inquiry-based research projects with the mentorship of Dartmouth scientists. As educators, we are continually inspired by the students’ creativity, teamwork, and dedication to science as they contribute to JSEP’s diverse and multicultural classroom.

The 2017 research projects exemplify the dedication of this year’s team to research and polar science. Check out the five different YouTube videos to see for yourself. Topics included Spider Feeding Ecology, Sustainability of Caribou as a Food Resource, Arctic Sticklebacks, Permafrost Soils, and Glacial Ablation.


Countdown to #JSEP16

In just a few days a team of 5 American students, 5 Danish students, and 10 Greenlandic students will meet in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland to begin the 2016 Joint Science Education Project (JSEP). Under the leadership of teachers and scientists from all three countries, they will participate in 3 weeks of hands-on interdisciplinary polar science, including one week on top of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Follow us on twitter @JSEP_GL and please feel free to tweet to us your questions about polar science and life as a researcher in the Arctic.

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JSEP is a partnership between the Government of Greenland and the U.S. National Science Foundation. The Institute of Arctic Studies at Dartmouth leads the U.S. contributions through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

2015 Student Reflections

The trip to Greenland may be over, but the JSEP students have been working in their Animal Groups* to write reflections on their experience (in all three languages). We’ll be posting these here over the next couple of weeks. Team Puisi is up first.

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*What is an Animal Group? This year we had 15 students participating in all JSEP activities, 5 from each Greenland, Denmark, and the US. On the first day of the program, students broke up into small groups of three, with one student from each country in each group. We called these the “Animal Groups”, and each group had a different job every day.

JSEP 2015 field program

Hopefully you’ve been following us on twitter (@jsep_gl), where we’ve been posting daily updates about our activities and reflections during a very busy 3 weeks of polar science in action. In addition to learning from international scientists about diverse topics in polar science, the students completed independent research projects, gave presentations to the community and the U.S. ambassador to Denmark, and made video presentations. We’ll work to post all of these wonderful projects on the blog along with post-trip student reflections. The trip was a huge success and Dartmouth is looking forward to continuing our partnership with JSEP.


A Dartmouth-JSEP partnership for international science education in Greenland

Dartmouth IGERT - Polar Environmental Change

This year Dartmouth begins a new NSF-sponsored partnership with JSEP, the Joint Science Education Project. We have been working with this program since 2011 and now take more of a lead role in directing the science programming in cooperation with Kasper Busk from the Government of Greenland.

IGERT graduate students have already been working with the very inspiring group of JSEP high school students from Denmark, Greenland, and the US. On Tuesday we briefly shared our science projects and on Saturday, the 4th of July, we’ll work with them as mentors and help develop and carry out science projects that look at environmental change in the ecosystems of the Arctic.

Please follow us on twitter. We will be sharing our experiences and knowledge in three languages- Kalaallisut, Danish, and English. Also, tweet to us if you have any questions about what we are doing and learning.

2015 Dartmouth IGERT…

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Kangerlussuaq, Greenland in May

Kangerlussuaq is just starting to thaw out from a long winter, by IGERT and JSEP Fellow Christine Urbanowicz

Dartmouth IGERT - Polar Environmental Change

We arrived in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland three days ago, flying into a brown landscape that is patched with snow.  The weather feels like a hot-apple-cider autumn. Best of all, the mosquitoes are still dormant on the edges of frozen ponds.

IMGP0738 Melting pond

IMGP0748c The coats of the caribou are light tan and white right now. I think they are transitioning over to their summer coats.

IMGP0762c Caribou (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus)

IMGP0736 Kangerlussuaq Fjord covered in ice.

IMGP0734 Bare willow (Salix glauca) branches with last year’s catkins.

IMGP0770 My awesome research assistant at the top of Sugerloaf. The fjord is in the distance.

IMGP0783 A frozen lake.

IMGP0795 Yesterday I saw green dwarf birch (Betula nana) leaves starting to unfurl. Things around here are about to change drastically.

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