Drifting North Polar Planetarium Field Trip

Drifting North Polar Planetarium Field Trip

In this MS/HS unit, students will be transported to the Arctic with the MOSAiC expedition, The Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Arctic Climate, in an immersive classroom and field trip experience. 

Context for Use

The Drifting North Polar Planetarium Experience invites students to explore what it was like to participate in the MOSAiC expedition to the North Pole. The unit includes five lessons, five activities, and a 30-minute film. 

MOSAiC was an unprecedented international research expedition to study the physical, chemical, and biological processes that couple the Arctic atmosphere, sea ice, ocean, and ecosystem. The German icebreaker Polarstern began MOSAiC’s journey in Tromsö, Norway, sailing north of the Northern Lights and parking against a block of sea ice. The Polarstern drifted with the ice for 13 months, much like the ship of Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen 125 years ago. More than two dozen scientists, engineers, educators, and others from the University of Colorado Boulder and NOAA joined scientists from 16 other nations for the international MOSAiC mission: the Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate

Visit your local planetarium for a field trip for the full dome experience or facilitate the unit in your classroom using the free 2D film and lesson materials. 

Find the experience overview including a summary of the activities and a road map for planning in this Google Doc

Register here to attend a field trip at Fiske Planetarium at CU Boulder

Polargram at Fiske Planetarium

Student engaging with Polargram station at Fiske Planetarium 

Goals Header
What Students Will Do

The Drifting North Polar Planetarium field trip is an immersive experience for learners of all ages to explore the nature of science through the MOSAiC Expedition. Visit the planetarium for a 30-minute full dome film on the expedition that can be paired with classroom curriculum and field trip activities. 

Teaching Materials

Drifting North Polar Planetarium - Unit Resources
Drifting North Polar Planetarium Teacher Menu
Pre Field Trip Drifting North Teacher Guides & Student Worksheets
Field Trip Activities at the Planetarium
Post Drifting North Field Trip Activities


Pre-Field Trip Activities

About MOSAiC Explore the who, what, why, when, where, and how of the MOSAiC Expedition through a virtual scavenger hunt as students use prompts to understand the MOSAiC Expedition, dig into arctic science, and visit the Virtual Reality sites of the MOSAiC ice floe.

Seasons in the Arctic Why does the Earth have seasons and what do these seasons look like in the Arctic? Think about the relationship between seasons and light you experience at home and use daylight calculators to explore seasons and light worldwide. This activity engages students to think about Polar Night and Polar Day, the complete disappearance and presence of the sun during the winter and summer months in our polar regions.

Sea Ice, The Character - Compare and contrast the different structures of freshwater ice and seawater ice in this hands-on lab. Learn about what makes sea ice so unique in the Arctic.

The Films

The Arctic Pulse by Lianna NixonThe Arctic Pulse Movie Poster

Follow an international team of scientists from over twenty countries who embark on an epic year-long expedition to the Central Arctic, MOSAiC. The Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) team froze the German Icebreaker R/V Polarstern into the sea ice for a year. For a year, the team drifts with an ice floe and strives to understand the Arctic climate system and its future. 

Drifting North: The Arctic Pulse, by Lianna Nixxon, YouTube

Into the Polar Night by Amy Richman

Step out onto an ice floe in the middle of the Arctic Ocean to watch and listen as scientists race the fading light to set up one of the most ambitious international climate collaborations ever, MOSAiC. The Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate launched in September 2019. Led by the German Alfred Wegener Institute, the mission froze an icebreaker into the Central Arctic Ocean, to better understand the remote region and its role in global climate and weather patterns.

Drifting North: Into the Polar Night , by Amy Lauren, YouTube

Field Trip Activities at the Planetarium

Polar Planetarium ActivitiesConstellations During the Polar Night - Let planetarium staff walk you through the night sky in the Arctic. Can you imagine living in the dark for months at a time? 

Q&A with a Scientist - Ask questions live at the planetarium or schedule a virtual Q&A for after your visit. Dependent on speaker availability. 

Ice Water Challenge - Do you have what it takes to work in the Arctic? See what it's like to work with delicate equipment in the cold by putting their hands in ice water and then trying to tie knots. This activity is used in Polar Safety training around the world. 

Polargram - What do you look like next to a polar bear? Try on polar gear from NOAA and pose in the Arctic using a greenscreen. 

Build a MOSAiC - Can you find your way around the ice floe? Build a map of the research site with your class. 

Post-Field Trip Activities

Letters to the Arctic - The film and multimedia project Letters To The Arctic asked scientists to share their narratives and get personal about their relationship with the ice. Explore these letters with your students and prompt them to share their narrative about our ever-changing environment.

Reflection QuestionnaireEngage students in reflecting on what they learned from the Drifting North films and explore the value of creating and sharing stories about climate science and the Arctic. 

Additional Resources

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