What do you know about snow? Of course, it’s cold, it’s white and that’s part of life in the Far North.
But what do you really know about snow? Did you know that there are several types of white matter, for example?
This information and more awaits you in a new on-snow activity kit produced by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute and the Center for Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio.
“The kits are family oriented. The idea is for a child to do this with their parents or siblings,” said Matthew Sturm, head of the Geophysical Institute’s snow, ice and permafrost group. “It’s the size of a shoebox.”
The kit includes activities in five subjects: snowflakes, insulation, animal tracks, water and ice and walking on snow. Each kit includes supplies and a 20-page booklet designed by the Ohio Center that includes instructions, topic discussion, information about Alaskan Native culture, and other fun elements in an engaging presentation . A QR code with each activity leads to an associated video.
The kits are aimed at middle-school through junior high school students, but the information is useful for anyone interested in learning more about snow and Alaska Native culture.
“It shines a light on a lot of Alaska, both the culture and the climate,” said Serina Wesen, who helped create the kits as an education and outreach designer with the snow group. ice and permafrost from the Geophysical Institute.
Several Alaska Natives participated in the project to ensure the accurate presentation of their cultures.
“I love the activities and lesson plans that are provided because they are real and very representative of our way of life,” said Joni Spiess, an Alaska Native educator from Nome who helped revise the content for the booklet.
The kits are useful not only for Alaskans, but also for Lower 48 students who have little or no exposure to snow and Alaska Native culture.
The Geophysical Institute will have 300 kits available on a first-come, first-served basis through a grant from the National Science Foundation, and the hope is to find additional funds to make more kits. The Center for Science and Industry paid for its own allocation of kits.
Students in the Iditarod’s 2022 Teacher on the Trail program, elementary school teacher Jim Deprez of Ohio, will receive the snow activity kit.
Alaskans who want a kit can fill out this form on the Our Winter World website, a partnership between the Geophysical Institute, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and Center for Science and Industry. .
The smaller kits complement the larger kits that continue to be available from the Snow, Ice, and Permafrost Group for educators and communities throughout Alaska. The large kits, funded by the National Science Foundation, contain more than 15 activity variations.
Additionally, Geophysical Institute staff can travel to rural communities for science nights or can provide educators with lesson plans and materials which can also be found for free on the Our Winter World website.