Fostering understanding, awareness, and appreciation of the Polar Regions through outreach, education, and research. Penn State University.

Teacher Workshop

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Friday, January 30, 2015 • 8am-4pm
W201 Millennium Science Complex, Penn State University Park Campus

• 7th – 12th grade teachers
• ACT48 Credits will be provided
• Free Parking and Lunch provided
• Workshop participants will have the opportunity to bring their students to campus for Polar Day (Friday, March 27, 2015) with school bus/van expenses paid for by The Polar Center.

Dr. Russell Graham
Professor of Earth and Mineral Science, Director of Earth and Mineral Science Museum and Art Gallery
“Ice Age Mammals – What They Can Teach Us About Climate Change”
During the Ice Age, about 20,000 years ago, climates were significantly colder than today which caused the growth of continental glaciers in North America. These climates and the glaciers caused many arctic and boreal mammal species to live much farther south than they do today. About 14,000 years ago, the climate began to warm abruptly and many of the same species began to retreat northward. However, the retreat was a response by individual species rather than by entire ecosystems. A paleoecological database known as Neotoma allows for the mapping of the geographic range of species through time and consequently documents the response of mammals to climate change. The background information about these changes will be provided in the workshop as well as an introduction to the Neotoma Database which can be used in classrooms by students. Changes in the past will help us better understand changes for the future.

Dr. Eric Post
Professor of Biology, Director of The Polar Center at Penn State
“Ecology in the Arctic: the Forefront of Climate Change”
Many species of wildlife were crucial to the establishment of permanent human settlement in the Arctic, and are still of substantial cultural and economic importance in the region. With recent warming, environmental conditions to which some of these species are evolutionarily specialized may be disappearing rapidly. This talk will provide an overview of arctic wildlife ecology and the consequences of climate change for some key species.

Coffee Break

Dr. Richard Alley
Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences, Director of Penn State Ice and Climate Exploration
“The Good News on Energy, the Environment, and Our Future”
We have many whales and trees in the world because we switched from burning them to burning fossil fuels. We enjoy the good we get from energy use, but the energy is mainly from fossil fuels that are highly likely to become scarce because we are burning them about a million times faster than nature saved them for us. And, we have very high scientific confidence, based on multiple lines of evidence including physics known for more than a century and really refined by the Air Force after WWII, that the CO2 from fossil-fuel burning will change the world in ways that make life much harder for most people. Much more sustainable energy is available than we expect to use, and for the first time we can see engineering! -ready paths to a sustainable energy future. Learning while we’re burning can lead to a stronger economy with more jobs, greater national security, and a cleaner environment more consistent with the Golden Rule.

Dr. David Titley
Professor of Practice, Department of Meteorology Director, Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk
“People Not Polar Bears: The Evolving Risk of Climate Change to our Security”
Climate change is about people, about water, and about change itself. Understanding the rate of climate change, relative to the abilities of both humans and ecosystems to adapt is critical. I will briefly describe the multiple, independent lines of evidence that the climate is changing, and that the primary cause of this change is a change in atmospheric composition caused by the burning of fossil fuels. I will cover the history of climate change as seen within the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Navy, how this challenge is being addressed from budgetary, policy, and political angles, and what are the greatest challenges to national security that arise from climate change and in particular, the associated changes in the Arctic. I will conclude with an assessment of future challenges and opportunities regarding climate change, from science, policy, and political perspectives, and why we know enough to take significant action now, even if we don’t know every detail about the future. In addition, this talk will address how to effectively talk about climate change through the use of analogies, plain, non-jargon English, and even a little humor.

Dr. Petra Tschakert
Associate Professor of Geography and the Earth & Environmental Systems Institute (ESSI)
“Understanding Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerabilities and Adaptation through the Eyes of Arctic Communities”
People in all countries and regions are affected by climate change, but these impacts are not evenly distributed. Increasing temperatures will continue to make outdoor work more difficult, especially in regions that are already hot and for certain groups of people, such as construction workers, the elderly, children, homeless people, subsistence farmers, and women who have to walk long hours to find water or firewood. For people and livelihoods in the Arctic, warmer temperatures may appear beneficial, especially because they extend the agricultural growing season. Yet, they threaten the sea ice, snow cover, animal populations, and hunting practices on which these livelihoods, their health, and wellbeing depend. A growing number of case studies from both affluent and poor nations show that those who are most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change, including extreme events such as floods and heat waves, are not only poor people but also individuals and groups who are marginalized in their own societies. They often face discrimination because of their ethnicity, age, class, gender, or because of disability. Arctic communities ranging from the Inuit in Alaska and Canada to indigenous populations in the Russian North struggle with the legacies of deep-rooted inequalities that make successful adaptation to climate change more difficult. Increased shipping traffic in the Arctic may further threaten indigenous livelihoods while well known cultural points of reference are disappearing.


Panel Discussion

Nell Herrmann
Polar Educator
“Teaching Polar Science and Climate Change in the Secondary Classroom”
Climate science is a topic that some secondary classroom teachers avoid for a variety of reasons. This session will provide secondary educators with materials that connect directly to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and that can be easily incorporated into most existing science curricula. Lesson plans will be shared from both the ANDRILL (Antarctic Geological Drilling) Climate Secrets Curriculum and the Climate: Seas of Change Curriculum developed by JASON Learning. In addition, opportunities for students and teachers to participate in Arctic and Antarctic research, including the NSF-funded PolarTREC Program, the NSF-funded Joint Science Education Program (JSEP) and Girls on Ice, will be discussed.