Antarctic study can stir imagination of students, teachers

Off to the ice.

Yampah Mountain High School teacher Susy Ellison of Carbondale will leave her comfortable home and job Oct. 1 to spend up to eight weeks studying Weddell seals in Antarctica.

She’ll live in a remote camp, wear extreme cold weather gear and wrangle adult seals and pups as part of a continuing wildlife and environmental study by Montana State University.

We’re fully confident that Ellison, a former wilderness ranger, can handle the rigors of Antarctic life and research work. She is a sturdy, strong, energetic and positive person who loves to learn.

Her excursion, as well as a substitute teacher for her Yampah classes, are paid for by the National Science Foundation, an independent agency of the U.S. government, through its Teachers Experiencing Antarctica and the Arctic program.

It’s a good use of tax dollars, exposing classroom teachers to real-life science that is testing the links between seal health, Antarctic food webs, ice, oceans and climate change.

Yampah students and staff will miss Ellison while she is gone. But they can track her work every day through the online journal she plans to post. In a sense, Ellison will be taking her students along on this trip. It’s a great opportunity to captivate young minds and open their eyes to careers in science.

Other science classes in the valley should take advantage of this hometown connection to follow Ellison’s project as well. And other science teachers in the valley should take a close look at what Ellison and her students will gain from this venture, and consider applying for the program themselves.

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