By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News
Bach fourth grade teacher Robin Frisch-Gleason will take a cruise over winter break, but don’t picture her sunning herself on the deck.
Instead, she’s taking a leave to spend the next month on a sailing trip to Patagonia and Antarctica, where she will give lectures about the geology of the icy region.
In a way, she’ll be taking Bach students along with her.
“I will be connecting to all of the students at Bach, as well as some other schools outside our district, through a blog, phone calls and perhaps video conferences,” says Frisch-Gleason, who will also be contributing to the ship’s blog.
She has given every student in the school a “passport,” as well as a packet of geography-related activities. They’ll follow her blog, and place their stickers on a world map to track her progress. Some of her blog entries are pre-written, with questions such as: “What kind of food do people in Chile eat?” One activity asks students to create a menu. Another asks them to research and draw the Argentinian flag.
“My hope is that they’ll learn geography,” she said. “And I really want them to feel like they’re a part of this journey.”
Frisch-Gleason, who has a master’s degree in geology and did her master’s thesis work in Antarctica, has a long love and passion for the Polar Regions and teaching people about them. It all began years ago when her father told her and her siblings about how he had hitchhiked through Alaska.
“In my mind, I thought, `I want to go to some of these far remote places,” she said. “This allure of far away places really excited me. And as I grew up, I did a lot of reading about explorers, both in the North and the South. Then when I was entering graduate school in geology, I had the opportunity to do field work in Antarctica. And that transformed me as a person. It is so remote. It is so magnificently beautiful. You have the sensation and in some places it’s really true that no person had ever stepped here before because it’s a huge undiscovered continent. It also made me aware of the urgency to protect it.”
About nine years ago, Frisch-Gleason had the chance to go back to Antarctica for 10 weeks, this time as an educator doing outreach on an expedition studying climate change.
She spoke to about 2,000 AAPS students before she left, and then while she was gone, called them on the phone.
This time, on the cruise ship she’ll be giving five lectures in 24 days about the geology they’re sailing by, and will be out on deck briefing passengers about the geologic history of the area, as well as climate change.
“It’s not a scientific expedition, but I’m engaging the kids in very much the same way,” she said, explaining that every Bach student created a flag of Antarctica, which doesn’t have one. “My hope is they’ll become inquisitive about travelling the world,” she said. And feel that they, too, can travel the world. They, too, can be stewards of our planet. Opportunities are open to them. If they work hard enough, they can do anything they choose to do.”