29 April 2022
We are all feeling inspired after a memorable gathering of youth scientists in Fairbanks on April 22-23, 2022. The first ever Alaska GLOBE and Fresh Eyes on Ice Student Research Symposium was well-attended by 67 student representatives of 19 different youth groups or classes from 14 communities all across the state. Over 40 more educators, parents, siblings, community members, and scientists attended to support the students and celebrate the amazing work of the youth. This event provided an opportunity for youth to connect to one another and experience the impact of sharing science in community. Our gathering was focused on relationships: building relationships with each other and discovering the relationships in our environment, of which we are all an integral part.
Our first day of the symposium included youth from Fresh Eyes on Ice and beyond who had completed studies using GLOBE, and included youth who had been investigating air quality, berries, water quality, salmon and, or course ICE! One of the most important parts of this symposium was for students, from kindergarten through high school, to formally present their own research projects in a series of poster sessions. The poster session was just like the ones that professional scientists have!
Students from Bethel Regional High present their poster to adult experts and student peer-reviewers. Photo credit: K. Spellman
We couldn’t be prouder of these young scientists. Here are some highlights from the Fresh Eyes on Ice student research projects:
McGrath elementary students show off their science! Photo credit: C. Simmons
Each of the student teams got the change to have peer-review and feedback from two science or education experts. They also got the chance to be reviewed by other youth, and to review projects themselves. Thank you to Malinda Chase, Becky Gallen, Mary Walker of the Association of Interior Native Educators, Dave Jones of the University of Montana, Karin Bodony of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Monica Gosselin of Tanana Chiefs Conference, and Chris Arp, Dana Brown, Katie Spellman, Melanie Engram, Laura Oxtoby, Cristina Ornelas, Allen Bondurant, Maggie House, and Mimi Lesniak of UAF for serving as reviewers.
The rest of the day was full of fun GLOBE, Alaska Native and other science, culture and technology learning experiences. Activity stations included:
Upstream Learning student from Kenny Lake, AK, share his family's story of Fresh Eyes on Ice science near a beaver lodge. Photo credit: K. Spellman
We closed our first day with an awards ceremony, Alaska Native dancing with Sonny Luke’s dance group (Thank you to Nicole James and AINE for arranging the dancing), and dinner. Our Fresh Eyes on Ice teams stayed for and ice themed game night and deserts. Everyone went to flight school to get one-on-one training on piloting their drones, and enjoyed some friendly competition for prizes in Ice Bingo, Don’t Break the Ice, and Ice EcoChains card games.
Dancing to the Raven Song with Sonny Luke's drum group. Photo credit: C. Arp.
On our second day of the symposium, we had some special time with just the Fresh Eyes on Ice teams. We got the day warmed up with a rousing Fresh Eyes on Ice song with Katie, then the Fresh Eyes on Ice scientists and UAF undergraduates presented their posters while the students raced to complete a scavenger hunt by talking with the scientists about their work.
Anaktuvuk Pass students talk to UAF undergraduate Fresh Eyes on Ice researchers and UAF scientists to complete a poster session scavenger hunt. Photo credit: K. Spellman
All of the Fresh Eyes on Ice student and adult representatives participated in a statewide data jam led by Dr. Laura, where they closely analyzed their own local snow and ice thickness measurements, and compared it with data from their peers all across the state to see the big picture. Dr. Chris then led the group in predicting the date of break up based on the historical data for the rivers and lakes in each of the communities. We can’t wait to see whose predictions are the closest!
Students from Galena, McGrath and Fairbanks compare ice and snow thickness data (Left). Student from Bethel shows their group's predicted break up date of the Kuskokwim near Bethel based on historical data (Right). Photo Credit: K. Spellman
Before joining the Earth Day celebration at Pioneer Park, we went on a field trip to observe ice conditions on the Chena River and practice submitting our photos through GLOBE Observer. The river was still ice-covered downtown, but just a couple miles downstream there were ducks enjoying the open water. The students used their observation skills to figure out why this happened. They figured out that hot water released by the power plant in-between keeps part of the Chena River open throughout winter.
Fresh Eyes on Ice teams make GLOBE Observer observations of the Chena River on our day 2 field trip. Photo credit: K. Spellman
This was such a fun event where we all got to connect, build community, and learn from one another. We thank Katie Spellman for leading this wonderful symposium, Christi Buffington for doing a big share of the organizing and planning, Tohru Saito for managing the logistics, Nicole James for being the go-to person for event preparation, the helpful staff at the Wedgewood resort for hosting us, Elena Sparrow for her vision in founding Alaska GLOBE, and all of the educators who have been working on these projects for many years with us (our heroes). Most importantly, we thank the students for their hard work (as hard as ice!) and for shining bright like the sun on clear ice!
Youth scientists sport their new official Fresh Eyes on Ice winter hats! Photo credit: C. Arp.
Article by Dana Brown
and a little bit from Katie Spellman