We believe in providing students with unique educational experiences that will challenge the way in which they perceive the world. Our aim is not to simply provide students with a "trip" to a unique destination but rather to give students an opportunity to have an aesthetic experience in some of the most wild and awe-inspiring ecosystems in the world. We do not want students to just pass through a place with camera in hand, but rather to listen to the land; to 'feel' these natural places and in turn, explore how we as humans feel when immersed in such places. Ultimately, our goal is for students to experience a transformative connection with Nature - a connection that changes the way they understand and act in this world.
EXPERIENCE | UNDERSTANDING | TRANSFORMATION | ACTION | CHANGE
Our approach to education weaves together elements of experiential, expeditionary, and problem-based learning. In starting with a very 'hands-on' approach, active participation and critical thinking are important elements in the SOI learning process. Through posing questions, experimenting and constructing meaning, the learning becomes personal, relational and exploratory in nature. Our expeditions become symbolic learning journeys from the initial development of ideas, to addressing problems and possible solutions, to final reflections. We recognize that the journey will be unique for each student, as will the manner in which each student effects positive change in his/her individual lives following the expedition.
On expedition, several different learning formats are used depending on the topic being explored, our location, weather conditions, and the skills and experiences of the education team members in which we have assembled. These learning formats include: lectures, workshops and hands-on activities that will be shore, zodiac, and ship-based in setting. We also incorporate small group discussion and reflection opportunities into our days through "pod teams." The following are some general examples of the lectures, workshops, hands-on activities and pod time topics that take place on our expeditions.
- Geological, political, and cultural history of the region
- Terrestrial ecology
- Marine Biology-from micro-organisms to cetaceans
- Ice and glaciology
- History of Exploration in the region
- Environmental issues facing the region
Workshops and Hands-On Activities
- Wildlife identification and observation
- Working with education team members on ongoing scientific research (i.e., seabird surveys, measuring pollution levels in ice-core samples, plankton tows focusing on marine diversity)
- Nature interpretation through various activities (i.e., photography, art, journal writing, music)
- Technology and Nature (i.e., cetacean vocalization, GIS mapping)
- Youth forums on leadership and steps towards sustainable living
- Hiking and shore walks
- Ecological footprint, Expedition footprint
Pod Teams (small groups of 10-12 students and chaperone/educator)
- Peer teaching seminars
- Reflection on expedition experiences through journaling, dialogue
- Mentored discussions aligning educators with students' interests.
A combination of the above learning formats is used on each day throughout our expeditions.
Educational Theme: Environmental Leadership
Woven into all Students on Ice expeditions is our overarching theme: Environmental Leadership. The world is a global ecosystem in which all natural and human systems are interconnected. Humans are part of nature and bound by the laws of the natural world. However, in today's mechanistic, consumer-oriented world our lifestyles have led to a disconnection with nature. We are often unaware or apathetic to where our most basic needs come from-food, clothing, shelter. Our over consumptive practices have led to resource depletion, atmospheric pollution, diminishing biodiversity, and most commonly discussed in the media, climate change. As a global society, we need to move towards living more sustainably. Today's youth have the opportunity to lead the way.
From an environment perspective, we focus our expeditions' lectures, discussions, and activities on current environmental issues facing the regions we are traveling through. Climate change is a particular focus on all our expeditions.
From a leadership perspective, we will explore how youth are effective agents of change and how their efforts contribute to positive societal action. Youth have an opportunity to establish sustainable livelihoods and make informed ecological-based choices early in their lives. The choices they make have a ripple effect and the action youth takes does make a difference. In developing the leadership component of our expedition's theme we facilitate ongoing group discussions on ways to get involved in youth-based environmental initiatives upon returning home.
Our theme of "Environmental Leadership" weaves itself through our education program in conjunction with our ongoing exploration of the history, culture, general science, and politics of our place of travel.