Shaler Area teacher 1 of 5 U.S. educators stationed in Antarctica for research program


Shaler Area Elementary School teacher Michael Penn is one of 11 teachers in the United States participating in PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating), an educational research experience that partners middle and high school science teachers with academic researchers actively involved in polar science research. Mr. Penn is one of five teachers who are stationed in Antarctica and six teachers are stationed in the Arctic. 

PolarTREC is funded by the National Science Foundation and provides science teachers (grades 6-12) the opportunity to participate in polar research and work closely with scientists as a pathway to improving science education. For approximately six weeks, which started in November 2018, Mr. Penn will be working as part of a research team from the University of Wisconsin to install and maintain remote automatic weather stations all over the continent of Antarctica. Mr. Penn and the research team will be based in both McMurdo Station and South Pole Station, Antarctica. The automatic weather stations collect information about weather conditions and measurements that are used by meteorologists and climate scientists all over the world.

In addition to being a full member of the research team in Antarctica, Mr. Penn’s responsibilities also include outreach to students and the public about what he is doing in order to foster an interest in math and science and general knowledge about the Antarctic. Mr. Penn is communicating with students, schools, and the public, explaining his role in the Automatic Weather Station project, conveying his observations, responding to questions, and most importantly, inspiring students to become interested and active in scientific issues that affect the world. Mr. Penn is chronicling his adventures and work through a variety of online activities that are available to his students at Shaler Area and around the country.   

The public can follow Mr. Penn’s expedition at: https://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/antarctic-automatic-weather-stations-2018
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