U lecturer to join Steger’s arctic trek

Amy Horst

University lecturer Aaron Doering will join a team of three other Minnesotans, one Canadian and a Danish explorer-educator on a 3,000-mile trek across the Arctic in December.

Minnesota explorer and writer Will Steger will lead the journey.

A reception at the McNamara alumni center Monday showed the public what the group hopes to accomplish and let educators know how classrooms can follow the trek virtually.

The journey’s purpose is to examine the environmental, social and political issues that affect the Arctic.

“The Arctic is the barometer for everything that takes place in the mid-latitudes – and the mid-latitudes are us,” said Doering, who lectures in the department of curriculum and instruction. “Everything we do impacts the Arctic.”

Team members will monitor the quality of snow in the Arctic and share the information with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Currently, most of NASA’s information about arctic snow comes from satellites. NASA will use the data team members provide to update its records.

Classes at elementary, middle and high schools around the world will be able to follow the trek in video, audio, pictures and text. Students will also be able to e-mail questions about the trek and the Arctic to team members.

These classes will also link to other classes worldwide and participate in moderated question-and-answer sessions about the trek.

University graduate students designed much of the education curriculum.

Marv Mikesh, a retired schoolteacher who participated in an Arctic trek with Steger in 1992, was enthusiastic about the educational possibilities of the trek.

“We always look for ways to motivate kids, and this is a wonderful way,” Mikesh said.

Steger said studying the Arctic makes young students more aware of the world. He said a school in Onalaska, Wis., influenced city officials to clean up a lake in their town after following one of Steger’s treks virtually.

“We have the technology to solve these problems,” Steger said. “We just don’t have the political will to do it.”

The trek will begin Dec. 15 and end in June.