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Arctic Climate Change Youth Forum (ACCYF)

Every two years, Schools on Board co-hosts a youth forum that coincides with an international science meeting or conference. This one-day event includes interactive presentations and workshops delivered by scientists and researchers introducing secondary high school students and their teachers to Arctic climate change research. In addition to science, the day will also include the northern perspective on climate change as well as political discussions on the role of science and Inuit knowledge in policy and decision-making.

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First ACCYF Report – February 13, 2006

The first Schools on Board Arctic Climate Change Youth Forum (ACCYF) was held in Winnipeg, on Feb.13th, 2006 in conjunction with the international science meetings of the Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (CASES). The forum concentrated on the science behind climate change research taking place in the Canadian Arctic - projecting the environmental, economic and social effects of a warming Arctic on Canada and the rest of the world. High school and university students from around Manitoba and beyond received presentations and workshops (with English and French options) from leading arctic researchers of various universities and research institutions. Presenters shared their work, their findings and how they became involved in research. A presentation regarding the effects of climate change on Inuit culture was given by an active youth from Nunavut and a portion of the day was dedicated to climate change policy. A panel of provincial party representatives, discussed their party’s position on climate change and the importance of science in decision-making.

Features of the forum included:

  1. ‘Global Warming and Arctic Climate Change’ – a presentation by Dr. David Barber (University of Manitoba) – Canadian Research Chair for Arctic System Sciences and Principal investigator in CASES and Theme 3 leader for ArcticNet.
  2. A choice of 10 concurrent sessions led by scientists from various universities and institutions conducting research in a number of science disciplines.
  3. ‘The direction of Arctic Climate Change research in Canada leading into International Polar Year’ – a presentation by Dr. Louis Fortier (Université Laval) – Scientific director of CASES and ArcticNet.
  4. ‘Inuit observations of climate change and the collaboration between northerners and scientists’ – a presentation by Megan Pizzo-Lyall, VP of the National Inuit Youth Council from the community of Taloyoak, Nunavut.
  5. A political panel discussion on climate change and the role of science in policy and decision making.
  6. Afternoon teacher sessions – An introduction to GPS; Creating a Climate of Change (SEEDS curriculum program), and Climate Explorer – applying Environment Canada data to climate units.
  7. School draws for prizes :

    Winner of a set of 12 GPS units – Churchill School, Winnipeg

    Winner of a Davis Weather Station – Fairholme School, Portage la Prairie

  8. A research stream accessible by a Call for Posters that made it possible for some of the youth forum delegates to attend the CASES science meeting and poster session the following day – where they showcased a related science/research project completed at school. Here are the posters :

    Winner of the $500 poster award – sponsored by NSERC: Stanley Zhou, Geoffrey Lokke and Mr. Richard Zuk (teacher) Glenlyon Norfolk School, Victoria, BC Is the heat capacity of ocean water affected by salinity?

    Heather Fitzpatrick and Mr. Richard Zuk (teacher) Glenlyon Norfolk School, Victoria, BC Effects of warming on the Arctic coast

    Kathryn Lapenskie and Mrs. Catherine Salki (teacher) Windsor Park Collegiate, Winnipeg, MB Constructing and testing homemade pyranometers

    Bernice Irish – participant in 2005 Field Program Kugluktuk High School, Kugluktuk, NU Schools on Board – Bridging Arctic Research and Science Education

The ACCYF is a component of the Schools on Board Program and was organized by a group of Environmental Science students from Grant Park High School with guidance from GPHS staff Mike Patenaude and Erika Wotton, and the coordinator of Schools on Board, Lucette Barber.

The day successfully introduced over 150 youth and 30 teachers to the most current Arctic research results and to the field of Arctic system science as a career option. Students were given a chance to see how the skills they learn in their science classes are applied in cutting-edge research in a field rarely discussed in the classroom.

The following day, members of the organizing committee attended the CASES science meetings and presented a report on the youth forum to over 100 scientists from Canada and USA, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Japan, Poland. The students also asked scientists to consider signing a petition stating their consensual support of the science behind climate change research and encouraging schools to educate the public

Students from Grant Park had many reasons to undertake this project. Some already had a thorough understanding of Climate change in the Arctic and felt that there was an important message to deliver. Others joined because they wanted to learn more about this complex issue that involves politics, science, and economics. Different students were interested by different facets of the forum. By the end of the forum, we hope that participants discovered how their course work learned in school applies to the real world.

Quote from one of the students on the organizing committee:

My experience with ACCYF was very positive. In addition to providing an opportunity to speak out on this important topic, the organizing experience was invaluable. I learned how much work truly goes into organizing a conference such as this one. It is an awesome feeling to see everything come together, on the morning of the event.’

Submitted by, Tatjana Trebic, Runjun Kumar, Duncan Farthing-North, co-chairs ACCYF, and Lucette Barber, program coordinator for Schools on Board.


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