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The Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture
June 27, 2005

I was invited to a “show and tell” at the main natural history museum in Seattle, the University of Washington’s Burke Museum. The event was the opening “Family Weekend” of a double exhibit on the arctic:
  1. Seasons of Life and Land, an exhibit of photos from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and
  2. Life Abounds, an exhibit of arctic native wildlife art.

I was stationed near the main entrance, near some mask-making activities. I brought:

  • an XCP (measures ocean currents),
  • my big arctic parka and mukluks,
  • a globe
  • a polar bear warning poster from the Canadian NW Territories, in Inuktitut with English translation on the back
  • some fresh and salty ice made in my freezer the night before, and food coloring for experiments
  • a half-dozen power point slides that I had printed on 11x14 inch paper and laminated. These described:
    • Inuktitut, the native language
    • What is sea ice? What is its microstructure? What kinds of animals and plants live in brine channels?
    • What is an XCP and how is it used?

Demonstrating how an XCP works.
There was a steady stream of adults and kids. The adults wanted to talk about global warming. The kids liked trying on my parka, and also really like the ice experiments.

When I’m a classroom visitor, I’m the center of attention and the teacher makes them all focus on me. In this museum environment, I had to be more of a carnival salesman: “Hey, would you like to do some experiments?” or “You look kind of chilly; would you like to try on my big arctic parka?” Mostly this worked just fine!

I am scheduled to return in September for an open science house aimed at new undergraduates at the UW. I’m also trying to get people together to discuss possibilities for future collaboration between the Burke and the Polar Science Center. Stay tuned!
Polar Science Center
Applied Physics Laboratory
1013 NE 40th Street
Seattle, WA 98105

University of Washington

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0230427.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the
National Science Foundation.

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