Picture Polar Science: Using Gigapan to Connect Classrooms to Antarctic Cryobiologists

Molly Steinwald, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Yuta Kawarasaki, Miami University
Juanita Constable
Richard E. Lee Jr, Miami University
A. John Bailer, Miami University

Abstract or Description

Ecophysiological cryobiologists from Miami University and Ohio State University traveled to Palmer Station, Antarctica for fours week in Dec 2009-Jan 2010 to research the effects of extreme cold and dessication conditions on the survival of the southernmost continent’s largest land animal, the (7mm maximum length) larva of the Antarctic midge, Belgica antarctica. Using the Gigapan, still photography, and videography, the research team communicated with K-6 classrooms local to the researchers’ and research institutions’ home areas via blog posts, a Facebook page and direct annotated images uploaded to the Gigapan website. Images were taken specifically to both document the scientific data collection process and relay what a “typical day” in the life of an Antarctica scientist was like, with the goals of increasing student understanding of the nature of science, student excitement about science and interest in becoming a scientist. Feedback from the K-6 teachers and their students (approximately 600 students total, across many subject areas) was very positive; and the research team plans to take the Gigapan and other visual communication equipment with them during their next field season in winter 2010-11.