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Polar Sunrise: A Primary Source Activity

Polar Sunrise: A Primary Source Activity

The Sun-Earth Day team traveled to the northern most town in the United States, Barrow, Alaska, to bring you a piece of the Arctic experience! While in Barrow we visited a variety of locations including 3 schools, 3 local restaurants and the Inupiat Heritage Center. While sharing the 'science of the Sun, we gained insight into the Inupiat culture and the communities close relationship with the arctic. We also learned how traditional 'ways of knowing' and western science work together to provide a deeper understanding of this extreme environment.

About the Activity

The following activity contains a rich variety of videos, podcasts, podcast image galleries and questions divided into 9 'topic' areas. With these resources students can find the answers to each set of questions. Overall, this investigation will provide them with the perfect opportunity to begin their own arctic research using a 'primary' source. Teachers can also use the videos and descriptive podcasts to enhance their curriculum, especially when teaching about our Sun's connection to the polar environment.

Topic One

The Polar Year Conference
The "Polar Gateways Arctic Circle Sunrise Conference" was extremely valuable to researchers in many ways.
  1. What were some of the benefits of the conference?
  2. Why was it important for these researchers to be in the natural environment?
  3. Why is it important to learn from other people?

Topic Two

Polar Sunrise
The 'season of the sun' in higher latitude regions like Barrow is quite different from that of lower latitudes.
  1. How is the sun's seasonal variation different in Barrow, Alaska?
  2. What is the reason for variation?
  3. What are some of those reasons why the 'Polar Sunrise' or 'coming of the Sun' is important to the people of Barrow?

Topic Three

Traditional Knowledge
Traditional knowledge is important to cultures around the world.
  1. What is traditional knowledge?
  2. Why do scientists incorporate traditional knowledge?
  3. List some ways that the people of Barrow use their traditional knowledge?
  4. How do the communities of 'traditional knowledge' and 'western science' benefit each other in Barrow?

Topic Four

The Ancient Inupiat People
It is important to understand the history of an area and its people.
  1. What is sod?
  2. What is meant by tundra?
  3. What happened in 1881? Why is that year important to science and Barrow?

Topic Five

Living in Barrow
Living in an extreme environment can be quite unique and challenging.
  1. What is it like to live in Barrow?
  2. What are the temperatures like?
  3. What are the seasonal changes?
  4. How do the routines of those who live in Barrow differ by season?

Topic Six

The Aurora
Auroras have fascinated cultures for centuries!
  1. What are some of the beliefs about aurora?
  2. Describe the shapes and colors of the aurora.
  3. Think about and list any other songs that you know of that are related to nature.

Topic Seven

Examining the Ice
Scientists can learn a great deal from sea ice.
  1. What types of things are found in sea ice?
  2. What happens to bacteria in the winter?
  3. How does studying Arctic ice help us in our predictions about other planets in our solar system?
  4. What can we learn about the sun from the Arctic?

Topic Eight

Careers in Science
A career in science can lead to incredible and unique experiences.
  1. What types of scientists might want to “discover the Arctic”?
  2. List some of the ways that inspire and motivate people to make science a career?

Topic Nine

Scale of the Solar System
Scaling the solar system is an interesting and important activity.
  1. How can a community benefit from an activity like scaling the solar system?

Primary Source: Information and resources that provide first-hand accounts of the events, practices, or conditions you are researching.

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