Farewell Kaktovik

After an exciting (and exhausting) 7 days of non-stop action, the Kaktovik Oceanography Program came to a close last week. I am very grateful to have had the privilege of teaching the camp for my second year. The program was a huge success! Our 18 students were inquisitive and helpful and made the program very fun to teach. All of the other teachers involved were wonderful to work with and brought a real sense of community to the program.

Although we planned most of the activities for high-school students, because so few kids in this age range were in town, we made a game time decision to invite the younger kids in Kaktovik to join the program. We ended up with an enthusiastic group of 18 students, ages 5-14. Most of our activities had to be modified to accommodate this age range. We paired older students with a group of younger students for many activities, with great results! For example, for all of our dissections, an older kid was in charge of the dissection tools and process, and helped show the younger kids the different parts of crayfish, squid, and fetal sharks. The older kids also helped the younger kids with more complicated water quality analyses on the beach.

Troy demonstrates proper safety gear while analyzing water for pollutants
Troy demonstrates proper safety gear while analyzing water for pollutants

On the last night of the program, we held an Open House event at the school. The students invited their friends and family to come see what they had been up to the past week. Students’ field notebooks, fish printed pillow cases, and clam models were all on display. I think the students’ (and parents’) favorite part of the Open House was teaching their parents how to prepare and view plankton slides under a microscope!

It was hard to say good bye to the students in Kaktovik, many of whom I’ve worked with for two years now. Because Kaktovik is so small (<250 people), I spent a lot of time with the students outside the camp– playing hide-and-go-seek and tag, or watching them rehearse plays in the streets, or getting a tour of the town’s puppies. I got to know some of the kids quite well and I will miss them! But it was time for me to head back to Fairbanks to gear up for my research cruise on the Beaufort Sea. I’m already thinking of new activities for next year’s program and can’t wait to go back!

Kaktovik Oceanography Program - Summer 2014
Kaktovik Oceanography Program – Summer 2014