School monitoring teams gather in Fairbanks for 3rd annual research symposium

22 April 2024

Students, teachers, and scientists gathered in Fairbanks on April 19, 2024 to share ice research for our third annual symposium. The day-long event opened with a pancake breakfast and a blessing from Dr. Elena Sparrow, followed by an icebreaker game that emphasized the importance of networks and collaboration. 

K-12 students and educators mingle in a conference room. Several people are holding balloons, trying to find the person who's name is written on the balloon.

Everyone wrote their name on a balloon and hid it somewhere in the room. Our icebreaker task was to grab a balloon (not our own!) and find the owner. We found each balloon's owner in under three minutes! Photo credit: Sarah Clement

Fresh Eyes on Ice scientist Dr. Dana Brown was joined by two special guests, Mohamed Abdelkader (Stevens Institute of Technology) and Crane Johnson (Alaska Pacific River Forecasting Center), for “Ask a Scientist Anything!” Dana, Mohamed, and Crane each shared details about their work, and students had the opportunity to write down questions to be read anonymously by emcee Dr. Chris. The students asked great questions, wanting to know the coolest part of each scientist’s job, how their work can help keep people safe, and of course, their ages and favorite colors! 

Three scientists sit in folding chairs at the front of a conference room. One of the scientists is reading a question off a small card into a microphone.

From left to right: Mohamed Abdelkader, Dana Brown, and Crane Johnson participated in the "Ask a Scientist Anything!" panel. Photo credit: Sarah Clement

We took over the Akasofu lobby for a poster session and data jam in which students shared the ice data they collected throughout the 2023-2024 winter season. Teams from Fairbanks, Galena, Nome, Eagle, Rampart, and Sleetmute - 27 students in total - took turns telling stories about collecting data this winter - sometimes in adverse conditions or with tools that weren’t up to the task! Rampart students, for example, had to wait for Fresh Eyes on Ice scientists to bring them an auger extension to measure their ice on the Yukon River, because their ice was too thick for the original tool. Students then spread out in different groups to do a “data jam,” in which we compared all the data that was collected across our different community-based monitoring teams this winter. 

Students and educators mingle around a poster session in a sunny hallway

Students and educators mingle and listen to each other present during the poster session. Photo credit: Dana Brown

After lunch, everyone had the option to complete an ice-themed scavenger hunt in UAF’s Museum of the North or to build rockets in the Engineering Learning & Innovation Facility on lower campus. Some groups hustled and completed both activities! We reconvened in the afternoon for an art and data storytelling activity to create our “best ice futures.” After an official closing ceremony, we took a group photo and sent the students out to explore Fairbanks for the evening. 

Two students stand behind toy rocket launchers, preparing to launch their rockets.

Students prepare to launch their rockets during the afternoon's free choice activity session. Photo credit: Christi Buffington

Two women stand at the front of a classroom in front of a whiteboard with a graphic organizer that reads "Our Best Ice Future"

Dr. Katie Spellman and Chris Villano talk with students about how we can get to our "best ice future." Photo credit: Christi Buffington

We had a fantastic year of ice monitoring with students from across Alaska, and we can’t wait to do it again next year! Many thanks to our Fresh Eyes on Ice symposium planning team (special shout-out to Tohru Saito for the travel coordination and logistical support) and all of the students and teachers who made this year’s symposium possible.