Arctic Expedition 2013

Follow the journey : July 23 - August 7

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Daily Journey Updates

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

***Scroll down to read today's journal entries***

Today we had an exciting schedule filled with learning and trips. In the morning, we learned about the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition, which was the first Canadian scientific expedition, with Arctic Historian David Gray. Then we will be working on team building and our journals.

After lunch, we divided into 2 groups, which we called the "Sila" and "Siku" groups. In Inuktitut, sila means "climate and the world around us" and siku means "broken sea ice."  The groups were then off to the research and collections facility of the Canadian Museum of Nature and Parliament Hill for tours! At the collections, we saw fossils and specimens from all around the world, and the labs were Museum of Nature Scientists conduct research. On Parliament hill, we toured the historic buildings and learned about the House of Commons and the Senate.

In the evening, students will be treated to their first Arctic Hour panel discussion. The panel format will allow participants to learn from many of our experts at once. This evening, the subject is an Intro to the Arctic, with Inuit historian Becky Mearns, climatologist John Crump, Inuit leader Mary Simon and expedition lead educator James Raffan.

Then it was off to bed, after our busy day!

Tomorrow, we will be spending the day in Gatineau Park, at the Mackenzie King Estate and Camp Fortune! 



 Our Sila group at the Canadian Museum of Nature collections and research facility!


Siku group visits the Canadian Museum of Nature collections and research facility. 


Canadian Museum of Nature DNA Lab Coordinator Roger Bell shows participants around.


Students looking at some of the plant specimens at the Canadian Museum of Nature collections.


Student Bryan is enjoying the Museum of Nature. 


Norman, Bryan and Maike examine some specimens in the Museum of Nature collections.


Kelcey with the polar bear at the Canadian Museum of Nature.



Anna, Sarah and Jennifer check out the polar bear.

Maike, Tiffany and Noa are enjoying the presentation.



Paleobiologist Kieran Shephard shows students Albert, Emilie, Nick, David and Camille the fossils in the collections at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

We're even seeing icebergs here in Ottawa! This is the National Art Gallery!

Educator Ian Tamblyn shows the students Parliament!

The Sila group with the Centennial Flame at the Canadian Parliament.

In the House of Commons.


Maina, Leanna and Cecile outside of Parliament.

 Aimee enjoying game time.


Gerritt playing frisbee with the team during some team building activities.


Student Journals - July 15, 2013



So far Canada is really fun. I have done a lot of fun things so far, and I have also met a lot of new people from different places around the world. I have also learned a lot of new thing about the different parts of Canada. The people are really friendly, funny and fun to hang around. They like to ask a lot of questions about where you are from, but they have really funny accents. They also tell me that I have an accent but i can't really tell. But all around it is really fun and a great experience.



I arrived in Ottawa yesterday afternoon, and my luggage finally got here late last night! I've never been so happy to see my suitcase! Well today we did a lot! The morning started off with a lecture about The Canadian Arctic Exploration of 1913! Then after lunch we toured the Parliament building, which was so beautiful! All of the buildings here are so nice! We also toured behind the scenes of the Museum of Nature, collections facility. I really enjoyed learning about the different kinds of fish in the Arctic! I've already made so many friends from around the world, and am learning about all their different kinds of cultures! It's been such an amazing start to this journey and I absolutely cannot wait to get on the ship in Greenland and embark fully on this expedition!!!!



Today has been a great way to start the expedition! I woke up and got ready for breakfast. I ate with some new friends, and then we sat through a lecture about the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913. Afterwords, we broke into groups of about eight people and were able to introduce ourselves to make more new friends. After lunch, we were able to tour a little bit of the city of Ottawa through a tour of Parliament Hill and a behind the scenes tour of the collections facility of the Museum of Nature. The collections facility was very fascinating because we all got to see things that no one typically is allowed to see. I truly enjoyed Parliament Hill because we went on a tour and learned about the government system in Canada. Since I have been in United States history for the past two years of high school, I was never able to learn about how the governments of other countries work. I am not that enthusiastic about learning about government (as you know, I'm more of a science guy), but I thought it was actually fantastic to learn about. It was nice to be able to compare the government to the United States government. After touring Ottawa, we had dinner and then went to briefing #2. I am very grateful to be here and I really cannot believe that we are leaving for the Arctic on Wednesday! This entire experience seems like it will be amazing, and I am extremely excited for it. I am still very tired, so I will definitely sleep well tonight!




The preparation days for the expedition so far have been great. I have met many of my fellow students already and cannot wait to meet the last of them. Tor and I are the only students from Norway, so people are very interested in hearing how we live at home. We are talking a lot about how the climate, nature, politics and living conditions in Norway are, and then we compare it to other countries. I have already learned a lot about other cultures and societies through conversations with the others.

When it comes to the expedition and the preparation, you can read at the website what we have done today. The visit to the museum of nature was amazing, and it enriched me with new and cool knowledge about the environment and the ecosystem. The Arctic marine fishes are very diverse, and first off, I thought the fish species we saw were prehistoric dinosaurs, but they actually live in the Arctic today. In addition, we got to talk scientists at the museum working with plants, fossils and DNA, and I can finally realize how diverse the Arctic really is. The museum trip taught us how to relate all our theoretical public knowledge ("classroom knowledge") to the real life and environment of the Arctic. I am excited to explore the lands and seas of this region. Who knows, maybe we will come over some special species, either in form of fossils, fishes or plants, during the expedition? In conclusion, I am having a great time, and because I fancy politics, today's visit to Parliament Hill was like heaven to me.



It's only day two of the SOI Expedition and I can already feel myself changing. The multitude of cultures and countries represented here is breathtaking, and this isn't even the entire team! Yesterday I met my roommates; we stayed up for hours discussing the similarities and differences of the cultures of the United States, Canada, and Norway, the countries in which we represent. It is my first time out of the United States, so I had no idea that other countries could be so interesting and unique! We discussed sports, food, music, celebrities, television, politics, etc. I honestly couldn't ask for better roommates; I can already tell that Micah, Marius, Shawn, and I are forging friendships that will last long after the Expedition ends.

Today, we first visited the Canadian Museum of Nature, which is the world's largest collection of arctic fossilized wildlife and botany. It definitely isn't a visit I want to forget anytime soon, so I was sure to take plenty of pictures. Afterwards, we visited Parliament Hill, here in Ottawa. Its the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Capitol Building. The opulence of the architecture was the first thing to catch my eye. We learned all about Canadian government and history.

Once again, this is just day two, but my experience has already been amazing. Can't wait to board the actual ship!



It was an Awesome-day today we went to the Parliament and went to the museum of nature :D.
I met a lot of people and had fun with learning with them. My favourite part was Rose and I shared a name:D.



What a great start to our expedition!!! Despite having packed for cold, Arctic temperatures, we were met with the blistering 35 degrees here in Ottawa.  As someone else put it, we are going to experience both temperature extremes on this expedition so we might as well enjoy it!  Most people are here by now and I've already made lots of new friends. We got our first lecture today by Dr. David Grey.  It was about the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913.  I particularly appreciated it after having read "The Arctic Grail" by Pierre Burton which covers the complete history of Arctic Expedition.  It makes me feel that much more grateful to be here, knowing what explorers have gone through in the past.  It's only been a day, but we've already done so much!



Hi everyone!
It has been crazy busy over here! these last few days have been both a cultural and social wave of people! I have met people from Norway, Switzerland and China, as well as a whole bunch of people from across Canada. There is a lot of people from especially from rural Arctic communities (Quebec, Baffin Is., etc.). There is also, strangely, a lot of people from Newfoundland (which we all find pretty funny for some reason). It is amazing, talking to people who live in completely different cultures and environments. For example, a girl I've met from Arctic Bay told me today that she had never saw a tree before now. Growing up on the West Coast, I can't even imagine what that must be like!

We saw both the parliament buildings and the Museum of nature archives today, and visited both Ottawa (Ontario) and Gatineau (Quebec) in the process. It was funny, crossing the Gatineau River into Quebec and seeing all the funky French street signs on the other side! I saw all kinds of fossils, including a giant cast of copperlite (as known as dino poop), a mumified over 100,000 black footed ferret and blue whale jaw bone among other things. All of it was amazing; I felt like both an adventurer and a scientist travelling back through. The bone casts and the packaged specimens, tucked safely away in boxes and crates. The whole scene sort of screams, "You're not really supposed to be here, but you have an SOI name tag, so we're letting you in anyway!"

One more day until the plane ride to Greenland. Can't wait!



Still in Ottawa, but we had an action packed day! We started with a strong breakfast to start our day follwed by "education" where we met David Grey (Obi Wan Kenobi) and he talked about his expeditions that he previously participated in. We also found out that 2013 is the 100th anniversary of Canada's very first expedition to the Arctic. -Lunch- then a behind the scenes tour at the Museum of Nature where we went to the DNA lab to learn about coding, we went to the botanists to learn how plants are preserved and and studied, paleontologists where we got to hold real fossilized dinosaur poop! At the end we looked at some skeletons and where all of the skeletons are kept, then we were off to Parliment Hill where we had a pretty cool tour. Now we have our first Arctic Hour of the expedition and peer intros, can't wait!



I have arrived in Ottawa. Everyone here is excited to go, to learn from and experience this journey. It is uplifting to feel my hopes echoed by so many others. Yesterday, we went to the Museum of civilization. It was there that I came to this realization. Today, we will visit the Museum of Nature. Thank you all for reading. I will write again soon.



I landed in Ottawa yesterday; it was a great flight and made me realize that I really like airplanes. We went to the Parliament building today, it was my first time there and it is amazing, the library is beautiful. Ottawa is so hot, it makes me even more excited to get to the Arctic. I've met some new friends and I cant wait to meet more. We also got to see the Museum of Nature and I learned a lot. I'm pumped for the flight to Greenland and to board the ship; however I'm not very excited to introduce myself tonight. It was my first birthday away from home, but it was good. I'm having so much fun and I'm very grateful to be here. 




Hello everyone! For anyone at home who is wondering, I am alive and well. This morning I washed some clothes in the shower, so there you go, I did it mom. Yesterday was filled to the brim with learning. In the morning we had a lecture and in the afternoon split into groups, boarded buses and headed to parliament hill. We waited for a bit outside waiting for our tour outside with the heat and the humidity. It was crazy hot, 34 degrees! And it's supposed to be even hotter today on our hike/rope course. Having packed heavily for cold weather, the heat took all of us a bit by surprise here in Ottawa. In the air-conditioned parliament building, we saw the house of commons, the senate and the library, which was by far my favourite. It was the oldest part of the building (the only part not destroyed by the fire in the early 1900's) and was circular with many floor levels surrounding the central desk. It reminded me of something out of Indiana Jones or National Treasure. Fun fact straight from parliament hill: it was Queen Victoria who chose Ottawa as our capital and she chose it because of its then central location in the nation. We then headed to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Canadian Museum of Nature. We had passed the Museum of Nature on the way to parliament hill so I was confused to hear Ian, a staff member accompanying us, say that we were now in Quebec. We were in fact going to a separate building than the museum, not open to the public. In it were the museums collections, specimens that were not currently on display at the museum. My favourite room by far held the mammalian specimen collection. There were several whale jaws there, and a whole wall filled with hundreds of horns.There was a stuffed polar bear there and it was ginormous. Looking at it in the eyes was terrifying. I also liked the palaeontology room where Kieran, a staff member on the expedition and at the museum of nature, talked about some of the fossils in there. He showed us a section of bones that hadn't been unwrapped yet from when they had been collected (some from as long ago as 1912) and told us that it was very possible that there were undiscovered species in there, as he had discovered two new ones recently. After dinner when we got back we did the student introductions and had more lectures. Speakers today included David Gray, Mary, Becky, John and JR (Check biographies for more info about these wonderful folks). I think I'll end it there; we're supposed to depart soon. Much love! -Tegan Gallilee-Lang


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