About this Project

What are PENGUIN modules?

PENGUIN modules provide a computational framework to allow students to work actively with polar research and data through conduct guided inquiry. Working through a Jupyter Notebook or Excel Sheet, students analyze polar research and data: creating figures, performing calculations, asking questions, and thinking critically about what the data shows.

Why use PENGUIN modules in your classroom?

PENGUIN modules allow you to meet learning outcomes for your course while at the same time introducing students to polar research and data. The context of climate change motivates students, who are often deeply concerned about this topic.

What courses and disciplines are right for PENGUIN modules?

We have made modules for courses in Economics, Computer Science, Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Thermodynamics, and Environment Science Tools and Methods. If you teach one of these classes, or a similar class, and would like a real-world example to bring student inquiry to life, please check out our modules.

The following table, reproduced from Rowe et al. 2020, summarizes the modules, including the courses and course topics covered.

Table 1. Computational Guided Inquiry (CGI) modules and corresponding goals related to course topics, climate and polar literacy, and polar data used.


Course Topical Goals

Climate/Polar Literacy

Polar data

Arctic EV

Be able to apply the total economic valuation framework. Understand the impact of assumptions on estimated values. Learn how to adjust for inflation, convert currency and organize data.

Understand the value of lost ecosystem services in the Arctic due to climate change. Engage in academic research on climate and polar regions.

Research papers on polar ice melt.

Sea Level Rise

Develop skills with tools used to apply decision-making given uncertainty in sea level rise and flooding. Be able to calculate and graph marginal damage curves.

Connect sea level rise due to ice melt in the polar regions to local impacts (at the nearest coastal city).

ice melt

Quantum Mechanics:
Polar Spectra

Know shapes of spectral features due to ro-vibrational transitions. Model populations of rotational states according to degeneracy and temperature (T) to infer T. Understand the Planck function, its variation with T, and Wien's Law.

Develop a basic understanding of the greenhouse effect and the role of gases and T, the uniqueness of polar regions, and the importance of water vapor.

Polar down-welling infrared
radiance spectra

Ice Melt

Be able to construct a phase diagram & compute heat needed for melting ice. Apply enthalpy, the Clapeyron equation, Raoult's Law & freezing point of sea ice in equilibrium with seawater.

Be aware of Arctic observatories and datasets. Understand how climate change affects Arctic ice volume, area, and depth and climate change.

Arctic ice volume,
area, and depth


Develop skill in analyzing heat flow through a medium, using a numerical derivative technique, as well as heat flux, thermal diffusivity, heat capacity, and thermal conductivity.

Learn what permafrost is, how it responds to a warming climate annually & over multiple years, & consequences for the Arctic.

Temperature profiles through permafrost

Computer Science:
Ice Images

Be able to load, manipulate & plot images, extract RGB components, & apply colormaps. Gain experience with noise removal and edge detection.

Learn about the ice-albedo effect, trends in Arctic sea ice related to climate change, and Earth observing satellites.

Satellite images of the Arctic

Tools in
Env Scia:
Ice Cores

Be familiar with Milankovitch Cycles, Dansgaard Oeschger Events, and glacial-interglacial cycles and how they are evinced in ice core data.

Know that polar ice cores record past T & reveal correlations between CO2 and T over millions of years.

Ice core profiles

aTools in Environmental Science.

Funding Sources

This project is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, Division of Undergraduate Education and Polar awards 1712354 and 1712282. NSF PLR 1543236 also helped fund development of the Polar Spectra module.