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.

  • Snow Pit Protocol 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.
  • Lake Ice Sectioning Protocol HOW participants extract ice blocks from regional lakes and develop thin sections to observe and analyze the characteristics of the frozen lake ice.
  • Thermochron Mission 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.
  • Global Snowflake Network Protocol 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.
Click on the slideshow to see our presentations, or visit us on YouTube.