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  The Fragile Ice

Finding Evidence of Past Climate in the Snow!
The first of two web seminars on the topic of the International Polar Year: The Fragile Ice was held on Thursday, May 3, 2007, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was Dr. Mary Albert, Senior Research Engineer, at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, New Hampshire. The seminar focused on the clues to past climate that can be found on snow packs.

Participants answer one of the presenter's question with their stamps. The question was:  
No two snow crysatls falling form the sky are alike. But are they all dendritic, like the Christmas tree ornaments? All answer NO. Forty-four (44) participants were present at the live Web Seminar in addition to the presenter and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

Studying snow can help in determining a local area climate's history. Dr. Albert talked about snow crystals and the ways they change their shapes. The initial shape of snow crystals depends on the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere. After the snow crystals are on the ground for some time they change shape due to metamorphism. Dr. Albert finished the presentation showing a snow pack experiment that teachers in cold regions of the country can replicate with their students. At the end of the seminar all participants received a copy of NSTA's SciGuide titled Living in the Weather, for grades 5-8.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:
  • "I gained a lot of information that will help me incorporate IPY into my lessons next year."
  • "It's great to have more specific knowledge to get our classes involved in this global research event!"
  • "The content helped to clarify answers to questions that have arisen in
    discussions with my students. Any information that helps me answer questions from other educators about why we should be interested in the IPY is always useful."
  • "After having been to the North Pole and shifting my career to education, I have recently launched an outreach educational program about how polar regions affect Earth's climate, primarily geared to grades 3-5. More additional info is always beneficial!"

Thanks to the participants and the presenter for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!


For more information contact webseminars@nsta.org

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