Climbing an ice fall, drilling an ice core from a frozen lake or standing inside a pit to study layers of snow are not usually part of the normal work week of a science teacher. But the annual History of Winter program, an initiative of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, provides these and many other first-hand experiences for elementary and secondary science teachers to familiarize themselves with the world of cryospheric science research. Guided by professional glaciologists, the participants spend a week in February in Lake Placid, New York learning about common field research techniques that are often used as ground validation for NASA satellite missions.
- A snow pit is a trench exposing a flat, vertical snow face from the snow surface to the ground. Alongside scientists, History of Winter participants sample and study the characteristics of snow within the stratigraphy of the snow pack.
- HOW participants extract ice blocks from regional lakes and develop thin sections to observe and analyze the characteristics of the frozen lake ice.
- Thermochrons were first introduced to STEM education through the History of Winter. These iButtons are miniature, stand-alone, go-almost-anywhere temperature loggers used by HOW participants in the field and beyond for the History of Winter Thermochron Mission.
- The Global Snowflake Network, an outreach effort associated with the 2007/2008 International Polar Year was launched by the History of Winter. View the protocol video to learn how to collect and identify snowflakes.