Greenland in your classroom - New college-level curriculum combines polar field data, 360-degree immersive field experiences and geospatial technologies
Earth's polar environments have undergone rapid change during the 21st century and scientists have generated important new data and made groundbreaking insights. Shrinking glaciers, melting sea ice, thawing permafrost. As rapid change continues at the poles, effects on other areas of the Earth system are likely to grow, and the influence of these changes will be felt on communities, economies, ecosystems, and business and politics. Yet for many undergraduate students, the polar regions feel far away and disconnected from our day to day lives.
The new NSF-funded Polar Space and Place (PolarPASS) curriculum is designed to bring the polar regions to life in the undergraduate classroom. The curriculum consists of two modules with 4-5 units each and combines real polar field data from Greenland with innovative teaching methods to strengthen students' knowledge of polar science and build student connections to polar places. The units contain a series of 360-degree virtual experiences, field images, maps, geospatial data, and videos to immerse students in the place and dive into questions about timescales, seasonal and year-to-year change, and interconnected Earth system elements. Students gain geospatial analysis skills through inquiry-based spatial and temporal exercises, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS) that use Greenland-specific datasets and support learning about climate, ice, and the landscapes of our planet. The first module supports an exploration of the glacier basin system before diving into long-term spatial transformation of these systems within the second module.
The project includes a research study to test whether these new teaching tools enhance student spatial and system-thinking skills, expand their knowledge about polar systems,and increase students' connection to Greenland. We are looking for beta testers (stipends included) to implement the curriculum in their undergraduate classes and participate in the research.