STEM Camp at Iḷisaġvik College in Barrow, Alaska

Greetings from Barrow! I am back in the Arctic to continue my research on the use of smartphone technology and pocket weather meters  by subsistence hunters to create a local record of climate change. As part of my research I will be running a citizen science hackathon together with Brian Fuchs from The Mobile Collective at the STEM summer camp at Ilisagvik College in Barrow. The camp started on Sunday with twelve students participating from different villages from the North Slope. So far they have learned about the carbon cycle with Prof. Lawrence Daffy from UAF, visited NOAA, made aspirin and played with bacteria. And tomorrow they will be faced with climate change challanges. To learn more please visit our wiki.

Having blind faith in technology, especially in such a cold and harsh environment as the Arctic where electronics can fail on you at any minute, can have undesirable consequences. In order to develop socially relevant software incorporating local/traditional knowledge is key. That is why we have invited a couple of Elders to take part in the hackathon tomorrow who will start off the discussion by telling stories on how the weather has changed and how it is affecting their lifestyle.

Learning Traditional Knowledge on Ice Safety . Photo by Patricia Ivanoff
Learning Traditional Knowledge of Ice Safety

For my research I am  also looking at how radar and satellite images could be integrated with smartphone technology for disaster response and prepardness operations as well as assisting traditional learning. After the camp we will run a one day brainstorming session to try to come up with ideas on how exisiting scientific databases could better serve the people of Barrow and potentially other coastal Arctic communites. I am really looking forward to the next couple of days!




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