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Article Highlights Alaska GLOBE Students Research Contributions – And Passion for Preservation – at 2018 GLE in Ireland


Alaska students and teachers at 2018 GLE in Ireland
The Kwethluk team, in traditional garments, after performing their Yupik dance at the GLE in Ireland. From left to right: teacher and Native Elder Pauline Morris, Jessie Nicholas, science teacher Whitney Spiehler, Elena Sparrow, Amber Alexie, Janna Pavilla, and Tristan Chimegalrea.

A recent article, “Alaska students share real-life climate change experiences at international event,” written by Heather McFarland and published by the International Arctic Research Center – University of Alaska Fairbanks, highlights the experience of Alaska high school seniors who presented research at the GLOBE Learning Expedition (GLE) in Killarney, Ireland, in July 2018.

As a result of their participation in the Arctic and Earth SIGNs “Climate Change and My Community” course, the students (Amber Alexie, Janna Pavilla, Jessie Nicholas, and Tristan Chimegalrea, from Ket’acik Aapalluk Memorial School in the Yupik community of Kwethluk, Alaska) conducted climate change science and developed stewardship projects in their communities. At the 2018 GLE, the students shared their research, and their story of reclaiming their future. “A future where climate change impacts everyday life,” the article states.

Due to accelerated climate change and human activity, McFarland explains in the article, the bank of the Kwethluk River is eroding. “Kwethluk residents feel that losing land means losing part of their history. ‘We want to preserve the land of our elders and their way of life,’ said the student team, led by teachers Whitney Spiehler and Pauline Morris, a Native Elder.”

Using GLOBE protocols, knowledge from local elders, and their investigative skills, the students focused their research on erosion. “They found that soil moisture, vegetation, and boat anchoring played a role. Now they are petitioning their community to act,” McFarland states in the article. “In Ireland, the team took a unique approach to sharing their climate change experience while combating loss of indigenous heritage. They wrote, choreographed, and performed a Yupik dance.”

The article explains that the students' journey to the GLE was about more than just sharing science and their cultural heritage. It was an opportunity for them to experience the world. “It was a lot of firsts,” Alaska GLOBE director and expedition mentor, Elena Sparrow of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said in the article. “It was so good to see these young people so invested in life, and learning and experiencing science, and not being shy about it.”

To read the full article, and learn more about this intrepid group and their research, click here.

type: globe-news

News origin: GLOBE Implementation Office