Friday, January 15, 2010

Q & A with DLMS 6th grade science club

Hi science club! It feels like a long time since I was at school with you. You ask some good questions and I'm going to try and answer them all.

Diana asks: When you were walking on the ice was their any way it could have broken? What would you have done?
It's really unlikely. Sea ice is thick and stable, and there wasn't any wind blowing it around or strong current moving it. Also, we follow a lot of safety rules. I was on the ice with other people, I didn't go near the side of the ship where the ice had broken, and I wore a "float coat" the whole time. If I had fallen in, the float coat would have kept me on the surface until someone pulled me out.

Melissa asks: What animals have you seen so far? What do you eat at sea?
I have seen penguins, seals, whales, and birds. All of our food was loaded on the ship in Punta Arenas and we have good cooks on board. I just had oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. The cooks make these really enormous ice cream cakes for birthdays! I'm eating a lot of fruit because by our second month out here, it will all be gone. I've also eaten a rather large number of dark chocolate M&Ms.

Kiara asks: Have you started your research yet? If not, have you gotten bored?
There was a day or two where I was a little bored, but now I'm busy! I have started doing my research - both my science fair project and other work. I'll post some of my data soon. Today was kind of slow because we have bad weather, but it's nice to have a little break once in a while.

Isabella asks: Do you get along with everyone on board?
I do. You meet really interesting people at sea. I especially like going up on the bridge and talking to the captain.

Lewis asks: What are other scientists working on? That's a really big question! There are three main groups on board: geoscience, ecosystems, and ice/oceans (I'm in that last group). I'll try to explain what each group does in general and then give some specific examples.

Most of the geoscience people look at mud from the sea floor for clues about the history of Antarctica. Amy Leventer looks at ice cores to find out more about the history of the ice. Greg Balco looks at rocks to understand the history of glaciers. Ku Chul Yu looks at mud samples to understand the effects of tides and storms on ice shelves. Caroline Lavoie has a different type of job - she makes very detailed, accurate maps of the sea floor. Kim Roe filters seawater to collect the mud that is suspended in it, kind of like collecting the pulp from your orange juice, in order to determine the age and composition of the mud.

The ecosystems scientists study biology and the way that living things change. Maria Vernet studies microscopic plants in the water. David Honig looks at places where whales have died and fallen to the sea floor. It turns out that there are living things that can only survive on the bones of whales! Katrien Heirman, Dries Boone, and Lieven Naudts use an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) to study all sorts of things on the sea floor. The ROV has a camera and lots of other equipment and is named Suzy.

The ice and ocean people are studying the physics of the area. Erin Pettit (the one who runs Girls on Ice) looks at how glaciers change over time. She keeps track of when they get bigger from snow falling on them or smaller from melting or having pieces break off. And of course you know that Ted Scambos and his team study icebergs and ice shelves with AMIGOS. Bruce Huber and I study the ocean currents and properties of the water like temperature and salinity.

Whew! That's a long list and its not even everyone!

Korayma asks: Have you seen penguins yet? What kinds?
Yes, and they really are that cute! I've seen adelie penguins (they're the ones in the photo) and possibly one emperor penguin.

1 comment:

  1. how far can a sixth grader go for a science fair? district? state? antional?