Hubbard, J.M.: Bringing Active Science to Classroom and Community with Antarctic Chemical Ecology Research
Few students, teachers or members of the general public participate directly in cutting-edge research and therefore fail to develop a full understanding of scientific issues. A community of teachers and researchers, supported by the National Science Foundation, have created the Teachers Experiencing Antarctica and the Arctic Program to expand the impact of polar research. In March and April 2000, I assisted researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (J. McClintock, C. Amsler, K. Iken) and the Florida Institute of Technology (B. Baker) with their research at Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. We investigated the ecological roles of bioactive compounds in marine macroalgae and benthic invertebrates. During this time students, teachers and other interested parties shared our research experience through electronic communication. Topics included SCUBA diving, sample collection, laboratory experimentation and chemical analysis. The teacher participation in field research provided a rich basis for public education and development of resources and materials. Through casual observation, children and adults taking part in these research-related activities, workshops and presentations appear to be more likely to follow upon their curiosity, show a greater intrest in science topics, better understand the research process and gain a greater awareness of the relevance of science.