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NASA Hosts Educator Winter Camp in Lake Placid, New York
A winter camp for educators known as History of Winter (HOW) 2008 will be hosted by a team from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, Feb. 10 -16, in Lake Placid, New York.

For one week, high school teachers and college professors from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Alaska will live and work in arctic conditions. They will gain hands-on experience while learning about arctic climates by studying ice and snow. The concept of HOW within NASA provides educators with a better understanding of the why, what and how of satellite remote sensing.

The ultimate goal of HOW is to provide educators with ground validation techniques that are identical to those used in the study of snow pits, ice caps and glaciers. “I have always been fascinated by ice and snow and thought it would be a good way to enable teachers to be better science teachers, essentially introducing them to a teacher as scientist role,” said Dr. Peter Wasilewski, astrophysicist and director of the HOW expedition.

During the camp experience participants will be introduced to the Global Snow Flake Network (GSN). Launched two years ago, the network provides information to help identify snowflakes and improved data collection wherever snow falls on Earth. “You can learn a lot from a snowflake,” says Wasilewski. “The shape reveals temperature and content in the clouds where the snowflake forms and grows.”

A third element to be introduced this year is a miniature temperature measuring device known as a Thermonchron. With its unique ability to measure and record temperatures this portable device is becoming a stable in temperature study in and outside of the classroom.

The week of arctic activities will include how to use field tools in arctic conditions, collecting snow pit data, setting up an arctic campsite, and Thermonchron data retrieval and handling. Teams will be able to conduct real time ice pit studies while working in sub-zero temperatures on the ice and snow of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. With the hands on experience these newly initiated ice and snow explorers are expected to return to the classroom to engage and inspire students about science.

After the snow and ice studies are complete, the educators will use their HOW experience to develop science activities and lesson plans that meet the National Science Education Standards. Now in its eighth year, the winter camp will also welcome for the first time educators from Alaska.

Lake Placid, host of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, is considered an ideal location for arctic climate study because of the extreme temperature and yearly snowfall totals.

With this program, NASA continues the agency’s tradition of investing in the nation’s education programs. It is directly tied the agency's major education goal of attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines. To compete effectively for the minds, imaginations, and career ambitions of America’s young people, NASA is focused on engaging and retaining students in STEM education programs to encourage their pursuit of educational disciplines critical to NASA’s future engineering, scientific and technical missions.

Related Links:

> History of Winter

> The Global Snowflake Network

Dewayne Washington
Goddard Space Flight Center