NOVA: Polar Lab

Recently, I had the joy of working with NOVA and UMass Professor Julie Brigham-Grette to help develop NOVA’s new “Polar Lab“. This is one of a series of fantastic online teaching modules. Other topics include the Sun, Energy, Clouds, Evolution, RNA, and Cybersecurity. Each lab comes with a series of interspersed videos and video-game style activities, meant to introduce students to a variety of scientific topics.

The Polar Lab investigates how the Arctic climate has changed, both recently and in the geologic past. It starts with an exploration of the fossil assemblages and paleoenvironments of Ellesmere island. From there, users virtually travel to the National Lacustrine Core Facility (LacCore) at the University of Minnesota, to virtually analyze sediment cores collected in Siberia. View the demo below where students count fossil pollen grains and analyze changes in vegetation through time. I was a science advisor for this pollen module, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it turned out. It might be the first paleolimnology video game ever!  In Polar Labs, after completing the sediment analysis at LacCore, the mission continues in Seattle, Colorado, Greenland, and beyond…

This teaching tool is appropriate for 6th-10th graders. In the days of Coronavirus, when online teaching and homeschooling seem to be the best options available, I encourage schoolteachers to take advantage of the NOVA Labs.

NOVA Labs Link

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