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Schools on Board - 2014 Field Program

Participants in the 2014 field program will join the final leg of ArcticNet's 2014 science expedition in the community of Kugluktuk, a coastal town located near the mouth of the Coppermine River and on the Coronation Gulf. Upon boarding the CCGS Amundsen on September 25 in Kugluktuk, NU, Schools on Board participants will sail through the famed Northwest Passage travelling east through Peel Sound and Lancaster Sound along Baffin Island to Iqaluit, NU. During their time on board, participants will be integrated in sampling operations, listen to lectures and participate in workshops, all the while travelling through the most sought after sea route in history.


Student blogs: jaxonstel.blogspot.ca

28 September, 2014

Hi, I’m Jennifer White (see figure 1). I’m from Inuvik Northwest Territories and I attend East Three Secondary School. Today at 7am the Amundsen went through the Bellot Straight, it was kind of rough. Later on we had three super interesting presentations. The first was split into three parts and was done by Robert Deering (MSc student, Memorial University), Bob Murphy (GSC) and Robbie Bennett (GSC)(see figure 2). The presentation done by Robert was about the changing sea levels in the Canadian arctic. We learned that water is most dense at 4 degrees Celsius and when the temperature is increased it causes water to expand. Bob and Robbie did the next presentation and it was about piston coring (see figure 3). It was pretty funny because they all have the first name Robert and they all work together.

In the next presentation, Mark Maftei (researcher with Environment Canada) told us about arctic birds. His main focus was on a bird called Ross’s gull and it is one of the most unknown birds in the arctic. After that our last two presentations were done by Laurence Pivot, who is a journalist and by Gilles Rapaport (L’Express) who is an illustrator. Laurence writes for L’Express magazine and she will be writing a story about the Amundsen. The artist Gilles does illustrating for books. He is illustrating something to go along with Laurence’s article and he is also planning on illustrating another series about the Amundsen.

During the day we came across the CCGS Des Groseilliers on their way home (see figure 4). Using a helicopter they came aboard our ship and to restock items such as milk. Even in the Northwest Passage you can go on a milk run! Since today was Sunday we got to switch things up a bit and we got to have a fancy dinner where everyone dressed up. Half of the Schools on Board team got to eat upstairs with the officers, which was a nice change because so far we haven’t had much of a chance to socialize with the officers yet.

Figure 1. Picture of me taken south of Bellot Island
Figure 2. Bob and Robert suited up and ready to work.
Figure 3. The presenters are explaining the different parts of the piston coring, while the Schools on Board students view them.
Figure 4. The CCGS Des Groseilliers sailing by.


27 September, 2014

Hi, my name is Juliana Yang; I live in Montréal where I attend Lower Canada College. I feel incredibly fortunate to be on board the Amundsen and to be traveling the Northwest Passage; the trip has been full of crazy experiences.

The day started fairly early, at midnight. After receiving news that we would be breaking our first ice sometime that night, the group set their alarms for 12:00am. When the time came we piled on layers and climbed our way to the bridge, where we joined a few other scientists and navigation officer (Thierry Villeneuve) and the wheelsman (David Labrie). For a couple of hours we all waited in anticipation of encountering our first sea ice.

During that time, a few students were given the opportunity to briefly drive the ship under close supervision of the coast guard crew. Pretty soon I was sitting in the wheelsman’s seat steering the Amundsen. It felt awesome to be driving a Canadian Coast Guard ship through the Northwest Passage in the middle of the night, and I still can’t believe I had that opportunity. After breaking that first ice around 2:00 am, the group said their goodbyes and goodnights and climbed back into bed for a few more hours of sleep.

Later on in the day we received some excellent presentations by Jordan Grigor (Université Laval) on Arctic marine ecosystems and zooplankton, and by Masayo Ogi (University of Manitoba) and Kensuke Komatsu (Mie, Japan) on atmospheric data collection. They were all incredibly eye opening and interesting, and helped me add pieces to the puzzle of Arctic climate change.

At lunch, the ship received an announcement that there was a polar bear coming up in the ice, on the port side of the ship, to which the entire cafeteria dropped their food and rushed to the deck. For many on the ship, including me, this would be my first polar bear sighting. Although my fingers may still be a bit numb from the cold, it was well worth it to get some glimpses and pictures of this majestic animal.

The day was long, tiring and cold, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The landscapes and creatures we encountered today were incredibly powerful and unbelievably beautiful.

Figure 1a. Juliana Yang, Lower Canada College
Figure 1b. Wheelsman’s seat in the bridge
Figure 2. Polar bear on ice in Victoria Strait just off Admiralty Island (18 miles East of Driftwood Point)
Figure 3. Jordan Grigor (Université Laval, Quebec) presenting to the group
Figure 4/5. CCGS Amundsen breaking ice


26 September, 2014

My name is Ben Kaufman I attend East Three Secondary School in Inuvik Northwest Territories. This is my fifth day on the trip after my arrival in Edmonton on the 22nd. Today started with the group meeting in the conference room. We only met there for a short time where we discussed what we would be doing throughout the day and then we continued to Hanna and Alisha’s room where we had stored some of our containers. Once there; everyone was given gear such as hard hats, survival suits and safety glasses. Everyone put on their survival suits and we all had a good laugh. We put our new equipment in our rooms and then we made our way back up to the conference room where we saw a safety presentation by Graham the third officer on board. He had Alisha and Nina try on the life vests to demonstrate how they are worn and then Jaxon and I put on the full immersion suits.

Once Graham had gone over the standard safety protocol he gave us a tour around the ship where he showed us our muster station in case of an evacuation. Then we were shown the labs and we were familiarized with the safety stations and precautions on the boat. After that the group was led to the inflatable life rafts and Graham explained to us how they would be deployed in case of an emergency and then showed us how to deploy them by ourselves; after that we rounded the boat and we toured a lifeboat. Then we were shown where we were to go if we didn’t have a life jacket during an evacuation and it was an entire room simply filled with shelves of life jackets and immersion suits. During the last part of our safety tour we were shown the waterproof doors on the lower levels of the ship and how to open them incase they had been shut and we had to get through. But when Graham suggested that Steve try and shut the door completely from the other side once it had shut for some reason it would not open again!

From there everyone went for lunch; after everyone was finished eating we went to the bridge together where the second officer and navigational officer showed us around. We were shown how he controlled the speed of the boat and how the protocol for steering the ship was conducted. The group hung around for a bit as well, speaking to some of the officers in the bridge and looking at the view through binoculars. Once we were done in the bridge we went to a presentation given by one of the scientists on board, the presentation was called Nature of Science/ Intro to climate change in the arctic. The presentation focused mainly on the different aspects of the environment and the different natural cycles that contribute to the world's natural equilibrium, such as how the clouds both reflect energy from the sun back out into space and at the same time retain heat and keep the heat that is already below them from escaping. Then after this the group went around the ship taking group and individual pictures in different parts of the ship.

And then the last thing that happened today was that all of the scientists on board gathered in the conference room for our first meeting to discuss the different operations going on, on the ship and how we would be meeting every night to discuss the science that would be going on as well as future plans for labs and experiments. And with that the night was concluded and all had gone well.

Figure 1. Jaxon Stel schools on board member fitting on an immersion suit
Figure 2. Schools on Board group gathering around an inflatable life raft
Figure 3. Schools on Board group in the CCGS Amundsen bridge
Figure 4. View from the bridge of the CCGS Amundsen


25 September, 2014

This morning of September 25th was the last time we spent with our Kugluktuk friends. We went for a walk along the shore of Kugluktuk after breakfeast. The fresh air was refreshing and worthwhile. The landscape was beautiful and worth the walk. We checked out the ulu building, (also known as the heritage centre), and they had some pretty neat displays. They sold ulus, seal skin hair clips and zipper ties, even some traditional clothing was for sale. We had the opportunity to check out this ulu centre before it officially opens, and I’m grateful for that.

The sky was beautiful and filled with ambition as we took off in the helicopter to board the ship. Today was more of a “free day” for us. So we took the opportunity to do some exploring around the ship. Through the video cameras on board we could see some of the Schools On Boards participants on the tv’s in our rooms, and that was interesting. After several days of cooking for ourselves we were really excited to have the chiefs cooking our supper. The pork that was served at supper tasted fabulous, and so did the dessert pastries. I’ve gotten to meet some scientists and crew members that are also onboard and we played a fun card game called Jungle Speed. If today was filled with this much adventure and fun, I am really looking forward for the rest, and I’m sure everyone else is too. Many great things are happening and we’re all really lucky to be part of this crew of amazing people.

My name is Kaytlyn Amitnak and I’m from the community of Baker Lake, Nunavut. I attend school at the Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary School, and I’m currently taking grade twelve studies.


23-24 September, 2014

Hi! My name is Jaxon Stel. I am from Penticton, BC. I am in grade 12 at Penticton secondary school.

Bloody Falls was breathtaking! We woke up at 7 and had pancakes for breakfast. Then we packed up for Bloody Falls with the heritage class we met the day before and left on jet boats down the Copper Mine river. The boat ride was 30 minutes long and the scenery was beautiful. When we got there we set up a base camp and started walking around. After touring around bloody falls and its surroundings we all met up and had a presentation from a conservation officer named Alan. He had grown up in the area and even lived in an igloo. After the presentation we had hotdogs and a variety of other snacks for lunch along with tea and hot chocolate throughout the day. The local kids were great tour guides and they let us engage in their fishing. The water form the river was there so pure we could drink it right out of the river.

During the presentation Alan told us about how Bloody Falls got its name when a rival group of natives, Chipwan, snuck across the river and massacred the Copper mine river Inuit, killing men, women, and children. The only survivor was an old woman who witnessed it all from far away and then hopped in a kayak and hurried down the river and spread the story. We left at 2 and the weather had changed to a much warmer and sunnier day so we had thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the ride back to Kugluktuk. After our arrival back at KHS we enjoyed a lovely dinner of stir fry and finished the evening with a schools on board soccer game which was a great way to finish off our last day in Kugluktuk.

Figure 1. Bloody Falls
Figure 2. Bloody Falls
Figure 3. Coppermine River
Figure 4. Bloody Falls
Figure 5. Bloody Falls


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