Fuchs Foundation Arctic Expedition 2009
A Leicestershire based charity, the Fuchs Foundation, is sending four science teachers to the Arctic Circle in May where they will travel across Greenland with three teams of dogs, carrying their shelter, food and fuel. En route they will be carrying out science projects which will include comparing huskies with domesticated dogs, assessing whether an igloo is the ultimate carbon neutral house, and testing the psychological and physiological input necessary for the journey.
Since their selection in February 2008 the teachers from Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire and Newcastle on Tyne have been working enthusiastically at fundraising and involving their students in the scientific preparations for the journey. They have spent two weeks in Norway, training by climbing to over 1700m with gigantic and heavy rucksacks. Learning how to secure tents where pegs don’t work, how to cook in cramped tents without setting fire to themselves and the tent, and testing the technology to communicate with their schools during the expedition.
In their second week they honed their cross country skiing skills so that they will manage to keep up with the three teams of dogs pounding across the Greenland Icecap. ‘The aim of the charity which was initially formed to mark my Father in laws’ retirement as the first Director of the British Antarctic Survey, is to enable good teachers to inspire their students.’ Explained Ann Fuchs, a Trustee. ‘As more lives are touched by the excitement of the first hand experience of doing science in the Polar Regions, these teachers will inspire students to find different ways to access knowledge which will equip them to compete in a world beset by environmental problems and give them the ability to seek out solutions in their future careers’.
As one of the teachers, Helena Nunan, said after her training in Norway, ‘The feeling after a tough mountain ascent with a group of people with whom you share a unique bond is something to be cherished. It's not the view from the top or the welcomed drink but the sense of achievement that can rarely be felt in our day to day routines. The feeling that you only get if you push the boundaries, do something new, dare to live! That's what I'll really take away, along with the practical elements of the trip, the knowledge that I have gained something to take back with me so that I can inspire the young scientists I work with everyday.’
This will be the second expedition supported by the Fuchs Foundation. The first was in December 2007 to the Antarctic. To view their experiences and teaching resources, log on to www.fuchsfoundation.org.
Editor’s Notes Attached
Contact: Ann Fuchs, Fuchs Foundation, 01455 202370, firstname.lastname@example.org
This expedition is the second of a series of scientific expeditions to be sent by the Foundation to the Polar Regions; the third is to the Antarctic in 2010.
It was initially formed by scientists working for the British Antarctic Society (BAS) to mark Sir Vivian Fuchs’s work as the first Director of BAS. It was to provide education and character training for young people. In recognition that science and geography are unpopular subjects the Foundation now sends young science and geography teachers to the Polar regions to carry scientific projects which inspires teachers to inspire their students.
Danny Golding, Senior Lecturer in PE, adventure recreation and sports psychology at the University of Bedfordshire. 07773 881181
Psychology on ice - exploring sub zero thinking.
The journey across the Greenland ice cap and the preparation for such a prolonged field trip is a considerable undertaking, which provides opportunities for interesting and exciting science.
There is a great deal of potential to explore a number of applied psychology areas in the field of sport science and I plan to investigate the following areas:
· performance preparation
· group dynamics
I will be using a variety of methods to engage in relevant and groundbreaking research. Much of the knowledge from the discipline of sport psychology has yet to be applied to adventurous and extreme environments. As Senior Lecturer in the department of Sport and Physical Education at the University of Bedfordshire, I can draw upon a great deal of specialist expertise and I will collaborate with a number of eminent academics to support the various projects. The results will be fed back to schools and used for teaching resources for the Fuchs Foundation website as well as leading to published academic papers.
Helena Nunan, Science and Biology teacher at Sir William Borlase School in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. Tel: 0781 700 4792. www.extremearctic.com
The Arctic Olympics
What would it be like to compete in one of the harshest environments on earth? This project sees the teachers undertake a number of events that require all the physiological and psychological demands of any elite athlete. The events range from the 10K, digging deep into their aerobic fitness to the ‘snow put’ and ‘ice-jump’ requiring explosive strength and power. The teachers will be put through a series of comprehensive physiological, biomechanical and psychological tests in conjunction with other projects on the expedition. They will also participate in the events before and during the journey across Greenland. The teachers’ performance in the event as well as any physiological adaptations to the extreme conditions found in the Arctic will be recorded. This project has the interest of a number of elite athletes including members of the British Olympic cycling and rowing teams who look forward to tracking the teachers’ success.
Mans best friend?
For thousands of years humans have sought companionship with dogs, but their evolution to the selectively bred domestic dogs that we share our homes with is under continual debate. As the teachers travel across Greenland supported by sledge dogs in much the same way as the great polar explorers of years gone by, they will have the opportunity to observe the pack behaviour of working dogs. The way in which the dogs respond to each other, the matriarch as well as humans will be documented and compared to observations of other working sledge dogs and some domestic dogs. In addition the personality traits and physiological adaptations of the dogs that predispose them to Arctic conditions and make them the animal of choice by so many polar expeditions will be explored.
Nicola Rowland, Geography teacher at John of Gaunt School, Trowbridge, Wiltshire.
Tel: 07976 832436
How many trees does it take to build an igloo?
The igloo is the ultimate zero carbon housing. It therefore needs no trees to counterbalance its carbon footprint. Nicola intends to examine the thermal properties of an igloo and calculate its effectiveness and efficiency. She will compare this directly to the tents used on the expedition and other structures back in the UK. Her studies will include measuring direct heat loss from the shelter, the calories required to build it and the effect it has on our bodies when surviving in it. Can we justify the carbon footprint of a shelter when we examine its effectiveness and efficiency? Can we counterbalance the impacts of using it?
Keeping the ice warm with a black carbon blanket!
On a hot sunny day black surfaces absorb more of the suns radiation than white. It is therefore sensible to ensure that black surfaces are limited on the ice caps as it might increase melting. Nicola is going to examine whether we are increasing black surfaces on the Greenland ice cap by measuring whether there has been any atmospheric fallout of black carbon produced by human activity. If there is evidence of black carbon she will measure its reflectivity to calculate one of the impacts that humans are having on the global ice caps.
Andy Stephenson, sports science lecturer in exercise physiology, bio mechanics and research methods, Newcastle College, Tyne and Wear. Tel. 07834720978
Put the science on ice- moving out of our comfort zone!
We are all comfortable in our own environment, but what happens to our bodies when faced with extreme cold conditions and 24 hours of daylight for 5 weeks whilst covering 350miles?
Project 1: Poles Apart
Do we really need it to get dark to tell us to sleep or will we be so exhausted that we can’t help ourselves. Our team of teachers will have their bodies, or rather saliva, as well as the bonds between them measured, to see the effects that the environment has on us. What happens to performance under these conditions? Will we, the group, argue or bond together? Are we more likely to catch cold as a result of the cold? We will work in association with Professor Mike Tipton of the Sports and Exercise Science at Portsmouth University.
Project 2: Nature versus technology
In addition to measuring our teachers we will also study some members of the native Inuit population to see if living in the Arctic improves your body’s ability to tolerate the cold. Based on this we will look at the contribution that technological advancements in clothing have made to improve our ability to function in these environments.
Page last modified: 11th May 2009 - 17:10:48