The Arctic Schoolyard LTER*, based in Barrow, Alaska, consists of two major activities: a tundra greenhouse warming experiment and a Saturday afternoon lecture series. Students from all grades, teachers and residents participate in the lecture series. The program was designed and implemented by the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC) in 2002 with funding from the National Science Foundation's LTER program. The Barrow school district was chosen because there are no schools or residents in the area of the Toolik Lake research site.
With the help of Arctic LTER scientists, two greenhouses and control plots have been set up to demonstrate the effects on tundra vegetation of warmer air and soil temperatures and the addition of nutrients. Similar long-term experiments at the Toolik Lake Arctic LTER site, 250 miles to the southeast of Barrow, allow students to be mentored by LTER scientists while conducting research at a location convenient to their school. Students presented preliminary results at the Alaska Science Fair in April 2003. An automatic weather station was installed in 2003 for year-round observations, and plans for 2004 include a Schoolyard pond site, which has already been set up at the Barrow Environmental Observatory.
With support from BP Exploration Alaska, several of the program's student field participants and their science teacher traveled to the Toolik Lake field station in summer 2003, where they were able to see the Arctic LTER's tundra warming experiments.
Forty sessions of the Schoolyard Saturday lecture series have been held during the past year. Total attendance has been about 1,300 students and adults, who have heard talks on such topics as landscape dynamics, carbon cycling, bird populations, soils and permafrost dynamics, global positioning systems. Essentially all winter and summer investigators present talks and lead local field trips. See BASC web site under Education Outreach for details of the Schoolyard Saturday program.
*There are 23 other Schoolyard projects at LTER sites throughout the country and in Antarctica. Visit the Schoolyard LTERNET at: http://schoolyard.lternet.edu