Youth scientists from Northwest U.S. gather in Fairbanks for NASA’s GLOBE Student Research Symposium

2 May 2023

On an historically cold April morning, Eliza Winfrey, an Alaska Native Elder from Old Minto and co-teacher in the Department of Social Work at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, welcomed a packed room full of young scientists, educators, and researchers. Youth from 18 schools scattered across Alaska, Montana, and Washington gathered on Monday, April 24 in Fairbanks, AK on the ancestral lands of the Dena people of the lower Tanana River to share research findings as part of NASA’s Northwest Region GLOBE Student Research Symposium (SRS). 

Photo credit: Sarah Clement

During the poster session, youth in grades 4-12 presented their research projects on a wide variety of topics ranging from cloud and ice formation to beaver lodges and water quality. Youth leveraged GLOBE protocols and many sought out stories, traditional knowledge, and language  from Elders in their communities to gain deeper understanding and insight into the changing landscape. Youth fielded questions from their peers as well as from a group of Elders and professional educators from the Association of Interior Native Educators (AINE) and scientists from Fresh Eyes on Ice (FEOI) and Arctic & Earth SIGNS

Photo credit: Sarah Clement

The day was jam packed with scientific exploration, conversation, and connections. The GLOBE SRS provided opportunities for youth to dig into snow science with NASA SnowEx scientists, navigate their way around the Wedgwood using geospatial skills and instruments, and make predictions with FEOI scientists about break up timing on several Alaska rivers as part of the Ice Jam Challenge! At the end of a full and busy day, every youth received an award of excellence for their hard work and enjoyed drumming and singing with the Di’haii Gwich’in Dancers (Elder Kenneth Frank, Fatima Lord-Minano and her son, Amedeo). 

On Day 2, students got to be college students for the day on the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Troth Yeddha’ campus. They toured the campus, explored the Museum of the North, and envisioned their dream climate research intensive for the university’s Climate Scholars Program. A big highlight was eating lunch in the university’s dining hall in the Wood Center!

Photo credit: Christi Buffington