I know... I know...

Sunday, March 29, 2009
I've been a bad blogger. It's not my fault really! I've been uber busy at school getting ready for a novel study and have been even more uber busy with the course I am taking .. and even more uber busy trying to figure out what I am going to be doing during my summer vacation other than sitting out baking in the sun and biking all around.

But, still. I know. I should at least post something that states that I am still alive eh?

I had recess duty a couple of weeks back and took my camera outside with me (it didn't last long as it was -35 outside) .. but here are a couple of pictures of the week:

And of course ... this photo collage is brought to you by the letters Y, R and U, the word Crazy and Shape Collage.

When unexpected company drops by in the Arctic

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mars-1 Humvee ... coming to the Arctic Near You

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Humvee to tackle the Arctic
Team says journey will simulate what long-range exploration on Mars would be like

KATE ALLEN March 14, 2009 Globe And Mail

VANCOUVER -- The Canadian Arctic will be "Mars on Earth" for a team of planetary and climate researchers determined to be the first to traverse the ice-choked Northwest Passage by road vehicle.

Four team members in a converted Humvee truck will be researching what long-range exploration on Mars and other planets would be like as they navigate the notoriously treacherous 2,000-kilometre route. They will also be measuring the thickness of the sea ice beneath them to determine the effects of climate change in the Arctic.

The team says the passage has been navigated on snowmobiles and skis, but never a road vehicle.

The wheels of their truck, a military ambulance, will be replaced with skis to minimize pressure on top of the frozen sea.

Designers left one feature of the Humvee intact: its armour.

"It can take mortars, but more importantly, it will protect us - we think - from polar bears at night," expedition leader Pascal Lee said.

The team is using the polar North as an analogue for terrain on other planets. The researchers say that rocky, barren Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, their ultimate destination, is the closest thing to the inhospitable geography of other planets.

"We're fascinated by what Devon Island presents to us and we're viewing it as a Mars park for the world to study and understand," Dr. Lee said.

Devon Island is the site of the Haughton impact crater, a meteorite blast 23 kilometres across that was left 39 million years ago. The crater's similarity to those on other planets and moons is of particular interest to the researchers.

The team will also be cataloguing the region's snow dunes and ice ridges to see if they have counterparts on other planets, and using drills to determine the thickness of the ice pack.

Setting out from Kugluktuk in Western Nunavut in April, they hope to reach their research station two weeks later, but will carry enough provisions for four weeks.

Conditions during that time will be extreme. The team faces temperatures ranging from -20 to -35. The Humvee's cab will be exposed, as will be the two team members on snowmobiles escorting the truck. "During the drive, nobody will be warm," Dr. Lee said.

At night, the team will bunk in cots set up in the Humvee's trunk. They will "live in a very cosy way," Dr. Lee said.

The Northwest Passage's reputation for danger and death is centuries old. In 1775, the first vessel to successfully traverse it, the English whaler Octavius, was discovered drifting near Greenland with all hands frozen to death below deck.

Among its most famous victims was the Franklin Expedition of 1845, whose 128 crew members died of starvation, hypothermia, scurvy, and lead poisoning after the ship became lodged in ice. Bodies that were recovered showed signs of cannibalism.

This April's Arctic trip will be the fourth for Jesse Weaver, 18, the team's vehicle technician, who was initially hired by Dr. Lee after he noticed the young man repairing motorcycles at his grandparents' house in Tennessee. The danger is "what makes it so exciting," Mr. Weaver said.

John Schutt, the expedition's field guide and a veteran of over 42 Arctic campaigns, is also aware of the risks his team faces. The more successful they are in determining significant effects of climate change in the Arctic, the less successful their trip across the thinning ice may be.

"It's sort of ironic in that regard," Mr. Schutt said.

The trip was organized by the Mars Institute and is supported by both NASA and the Canadian Space Agency.

So much for enjoying the great outdoors

Saturday, March 14, 2009

As it is a beautiful, sunshiny day out I figured I would go for a hike out to the point. Geared up, camera and snack in tow, I headed out down the hill to the ice. Hiking out, listening to tunes and soaking in the much needed sunrays, I heard a voice calling me from the last house of town "Kendra!!!!!". I stopped, looked waved and listened "You might not want to hike out to the point today! There's a polar bear out there!". Bummer I thought, as I hiked up off the ice to get more info. Apparently, a polar bear was sighted hanging out around the point early this morning and it's still there hunting for seals and enjoying the sun. Local hunters are keeping an eye on it while they try to get ahold of our wildlife control officer (whose also currently out hunting) to find out what to do. So far, the bear hasn't shown too much interest in coming into town for a visit ... but I don't think I'm quite ready to out run a hungry polar bear ... at least not today.


Happy Pi day to you,
Happy Pi day to you,
Happy Pi day everybody,
Happy Pi day to you.

More Adventures from the Classroom

Friday, March 13, 2009
Some days I just want to bang my head against the door in my classroom while teaching my grade 10 English class. There are days where I seriously wonder if anything stops and stays in their brain long enough for it to be absorbed. And then there are days like the past couple that I just sit there and wonder 'what did you do with my students ... and can you make sure that they don't return?'

In my English class I am supposed to do a full length novel study (eventually). Before getting into it though, I figured might as well test the waters with a short story that we will analyze and answer questions like we would with a novel. Well, after many days of reading I finally decided upon Farley Mowat's "Walk Well My Brother" from The Snow Walker (a book full of Inuit / Northern themed short stories). I wasn't too sure how my class would react to the story. It is a very well written and easy to understand story (bonus) but .. some of the views from the main characters POV on the Inuit (or 'Huskies' as he calls them throughout the story) I was a little wary on. But, I figured I would deal with it when they brought it up.

So, Tuesday, I introduced the story to the students and read the first couple pages to them (as I find that although my students know how to read, they don't quite pick up on the nuances of the language) and then we worked through the questions together. At times I had to pull answers out of them and direct them to a page or paragraph that held the answer ... but we made out ok. At the end of the class one of my students looked at me and asked "Isn't this a movie?"

Wednesday we continued on, and they were much better at finding answers in the text and recalling information (yeah!) but we were still having a little bit of an issue with putting the answer in our own words.

Thursday ... well.. I lost my voice. Yeah for colds. So I figured, we've read about 1/2 the story, maybe this is time to start the movie that was made based off of Walk Well My Brother - The Snow Walker. It was pretty rewarding watching my students react to the movie. "That was in the story!", "They didn't mention that in the story", "Who are those guys.. they aren't in the story". Thus began the conversation about movie adaptations and that some times when stories are made into movies, the movie has to add filler to fill in the gaps in the story that become apparent in a movie.

Today, we continued on reading the story (and as an added bonus, we actually watched the part of the movie that matches the text yesterday). One of my students even surprised me as he had taken his story duo-tang home, read the next section (the one that we were working on in class) and did the questions as homework - with out me asking or assigning it! [there is hope!]. And of course, today we worked more on putting the answers in their own words ... which was a long drawn out process .. but we made it through. And to my amazement, once we were done our questions my students asked if we could continue watching the movie to see 'where we were in the story'. And of course, they began pointing out things that weren't in the story ... I then had to remind them that we weren't done reading the story yet either .. but to keep these things in the back of their minds as we finish the story.

And of course, I can't forget my little kids. My grade 1 and 2 classes were fantastic to me these past couple of days (Weds - Fri) as I was not only battling a cold, but also suffering from laryngitis and had no voice. Wednesday I squeaked and squawked my way through a little "Counting to 100" mini-book with my grade 1 class (thankfully there was only 5 of them present) .. but we had fun. Thursday I had no voice, but my grade 2 class was golden for me (maybe they were taking pity on me?) and we finished watching The Cat In The Hat - you could have heard a pin drop in that classroom. And if course today, my grade 1's were supper-beings again, as we finished off Madagascar.

Sometimes my students just amaze me.

Shuffle my Apple

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I have had a long relationship with the iPod families. I've gone through every version of the shuffle. My v1.0 shuffle died after going on one too many long runs in the summer months .. who-da-thunk that small electronics wouldn't like sweat? Shuffle v2.0 .. while it lasted longer after suffering through many long runs ... ultimately met its fate one cold arctic day while out on a run .. yet again, who-da-thunk that condensation from being inside a pocket and then freezing would cause it to die. Sure not me! And then there is v3.0 who didn't even make it to the 6 month mark ... yet again, I know I should have learned my lesson the last time ... the shuffle doesn't like condensation or freezing. So here we move on to the new Shuffle v4.0. I am very tempted to find out how well it will survive in arctic conditions as well ... hmmm... maybe a little experiment needs to happen up here...

So .. Apple, if you are reading this.. can you make a shuffle that:
a) won't fry due to sweat / water / condensation
b) won't die cause it got frozen from being out in the Arctic environment

And I guess while we are at it ... can you also Arctic-ify the iPod too? The battery doesn't hold up too well up here.

Where or where has the water truck gone?

After three long (and perhaps smelly) days with no water (one of the added perks you can purchase with your Northern Adventure) the water truck finally graced us with an appearance.

I was getting to the point where I was going to start standing in the middle of the road and block its way around town until it stopped to fill up our water tank. It is not fun not being able to have my morning (although quick) shower. Nor is it very fun if Kennie doesn't have her cup of Java in the morning .. makes for a very foul mooded Kennie. All should hopefully start returning to normal ... now all I have to do is make my way through two weeks of laundry ...

Arctic Bay Space Program: The Graphic Novel

Sunday, March 8, 2009

For more pictures of the launch and video head on over to Clare's at The House and Other Arctic Musings.

Arctic Bay Space Program

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Arctic Bay's Space Program had a successful launch early this afternoon. Space Exploration Program Head Clare and Astronaut-in-Training Travis successfully sent their rocket into orbit this afternoon. The rocket soared high into the sky before it's parachute ejected allowing it to safely float back down to the recovery site. The rocket was recovered successfully by the recovery team for a second launch.

The Penguins

Friday, March 6, 2009

I just love these guys from the Madagascar movie series. There is just something about them that makes me smile each time I see them.

And this just put a bigger smile on my face today. Today, as the gym was being used by the Rangers we combined the grade 1 and 2 class together at 1:40 and continued watching Madagascar (as the grade 1 and 2's have been watching parts of it every now and then) ... it was a little crazy with 40 little bodies in my classroom, but it was all worth it when they all began singing along to this:

Polar Joke

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I love skittles. There is no denying it that they are my favorite candy ... next too M&M's.

However, this love of Skittles can be a costly one. I bought myself a pack of Skittles after school at the Northern with some other things that I needed.

I know, never look at the prices of things as they are scanned. But holy-moally! I didn't think I would ever pay this much for a 61 gram pack of Skittles. The price .. secret for now .. let's see what y'all think I would pay for Skittles :-)

Experiments in Teaching

Monday, March 2, 2009
I don't know whether I've sunk to a new teaching low, or have just figured out one of the more creative (and less stressful) ways of teaching my English students story plot structure. After going over the structure of plot for the last week (and short story theory), I gave my students a worksheet to take home over PI break to work on. Well ... none of the worksheets came back (surprise surprise?).

Today, I figured, well, might as well just review the concepts and see what we all remember and work at trying to work through the worksheet. Well, we got through the theory review ... and just by looking at them I could tell that there was no way that we were going to be getting through the reading / analyzing part today, and they really needed a practice run that wasn't too taxing .. I dug through my desk drawer of DVDs and pulled out Futurama, handed out plot structure worksheets and we analyzed an episode of Futurama.

And ya know what? They got it! I did have to throw in several leading questions, and pausing the episode several times and point out that this was part of rising action and then asking what was going on. But it worked - my students understood what was going on. I think I'll be doing this a couple more times before we start our larger novel study and get them to analyze episodes for different things (characters, setting, plot). But whoo-da-thunk that Fry, Bender, Leela and Prof. Farnsworth could teach my students plot.

Arctic Voice

We have a special visitor here in Arctic Bay for the next couple of days. Glenn Morris, from the UK, is part of a team, Arctic Voice that brings schools from the Arctic together with schools in the UK to help students in the UK understand climate change and how it is affecting life in the north ... as well as exploring the North.

Glenn arrived here the other day by dog sled from Igloolik with Simon (his guide) - that's a two week trek over the frozen tundra and ice! Glenn's arrival into Arctic Bay is part of phase three of his trek ... and it's not over yet .. as before the week is up, Glenn will be heading back out with Simon and the dog team, mushing off to their next location.

I got to spend some time with Glenn today working some tech magic (downloading and backing up photos - which are amazing ... and being the nice Internet Cafe provider :-) ). It was pretty neat learning about his travels and adventures and I am looking forward to his talk to the students of Inuujaq tomorrow.