Initial Publication Date: February 4, 2022


Polar Places and Spaces, or PolarPASS, is designed to bring polar environments into the classroom, allowing students to explore extreme environments and connect with new and seemingly distant places. Earth's polar environments are undergoing rapid change during the 21st century and the U. S. and National Science Foundation have made substantial investments in polar research, generating new data and insights. PolarPASS leverages these research investments to support students in developing a sense of polar places from distant classrooms.

Using interactive 360-degree interactive environments and Geographic Information System (GIS) data, along with more traditional learning resources, PolarPASS provides a science-based curriculum that immerses students in unique polar locations and brings them up close and personal with Earth science data and field locations.

This December 2023 article gives an overview of the PolarPASS origin and purpose.

What are PolarPASS modules?

PolarPASS modules are designed to transport students to the field. Each module uses a combination of 360-degree interactive environment(s), GIS, and other materials to provide students with authentic scientific data and to dive into the field experience. Each module explores a specific theme, providing a series of Units within that theme to walk students through discovery. Learning activities are designed to enhance students' geospatial skills and support development of a sense of polar place, even without traveling to these exciting environments.

Why use PolarPASS modules in your classroom?

Developed by a team of professional educators and polar scientists, PolarPASS provides unique curriculum to link your classroom to the poles. Authentic geoscience data allows students to step into the scientific discovery role. Carefully designed activities for inquiry challenge students to make connections across the polar systems and linking to global changes in climate.

What courses and disciplines are right for PolarPASS modules?

PolarPASS modules are ideal for use in upper division geoscience and environmental science classes. Full instructions are provided for using the 360-degree interactive environments and GIS tools. GIS activities are designed for use with QGIS, a free software package available for all computer operating systems. The curriculum is flexible to class format and has been taught in classes from the block system to semester-long classes. Instructors have taught within seminars, labs, and mixed classes, though we recommend a class format that includes interactive/lab time for teaching with PolarPASS.

Expand your polar teaching! Enjoying using PolarPASS modules and looking for more polar-focused education materials to use in your classroom? Consider the GETSI modules on Ice Mass and Sea Level Changes or Understanding Our Changing Climate: Data Behind Melting Ice and Changing Sea Level.

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