U of M team returns from Arctic expedition

Researcher and professor from the University of Minnesota returns from Adventure Learning Series in the Arctic.

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A University of Minnesota professor is back from an Arctic expedition and sharing what he learned along the way.

The trip was part of an adventure learning series called, "The Changing Earth."

"We wanted to get people involved with how they're making a difference in their own community and how they're trying to overcome how things are changing within this world," said Aaron Doering, director of the Learning Technologies Media Lab (LTML) at the U of M.

Doering led the expedition with three other teammates, Chris Ripken, a Minnesota high school geography teacher, Jeni Henrickson, creative director and Matthew Whalen, a professional videographer.

From the middle of April to the beginning of May, the team traveled over 170 miles of Arctic wilderness starting at Arctic Bay, Canada and ending at Pond Inlet. They traveled by ski and snowshoe while pulling all their gear in large sleds called pulks.

During the trip, they documented everything online so students and the public could follow along.

"Before I became a professor at the University of Minnesota, I was a K-12 teacher and I thought, 'There has to be a way to engage our students and motivate them to become more aware of what is happening to the Earth,'" Doering said.

The Changing Earth team spoke with a number of people about the issues their communities face, like food security. A bag of cookies could cost $25, while a can of soda is $5.

Doering and the team explored how communities are adapting to our changing Earth.

"They are experiencing climate change and they'll talk about it, where the freeze up is later and the break up is earlier," Doering said. "Some of those issues are not only the thawing of the sea that they travel out onto much earlier but also the migration patterns of the caribou or the polar bears that are in that area. Everything has changed."

"The Changing Earth" is a four-year project of the LTML. This trip was the first of eight expeditions to remote regions of the Arctic and the Tropics. The next trip will take place in the fall and a team will explore the Tropics.

"Hopefully people are inspired in their own communities to make a difference," Doering said.


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