For SOI alumnus John Park, exploring the Arctic was just the beginning

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John Park is in his final year at Yale University studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Learn about the impact John’s expedition to the Arctic had on him and how he has devoted his time since to better understanding the Arctic … Read more »

Meet Justin Dearing, educator, youth engagement extraordinaire and the latest addition to the SOI team

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Justin Dearing recently joined SOI as Manager of our Education & Alumni Program. As expedition staff for both the 2013 Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, Justin is certainly no stranger to SOI and has quickly become a positive force in our … Read more »

SOI’s 2nd Annual To the Ends of the Earth dinner fundraiser

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Join Students on Ice and host Seamus O’Regan on May 4, 2014 for an inspiring evening to support and celebrate the Students on Ice Foundation.   SOI’s 2nd Annual To the Ends of the Earth dinner fundraiser will once again take place … Read more »

Arctic Voices, a traveling exhibit to explore the wonders of the Arctic

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Making its rounds to your nearest museum is the breathtaking “Arctic Voices” exhibit. It features an immersive and comprehensive look into the Arctic region- its people, culture and environmental importance to the rest of the world. Arctic Voices launched earlier … Read more »

TERN Financial to support SOI

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Students on Ice is thrilled to announce that TERN Financial Group Inc. has entered a multi-year support agreement with Students on Ice. This partnership will see TERN offset travel expenses for deserving youth from communities facing uniquely challenging socio-economic circumstances participating … Read more »

SOI Alum Maya Burhanpurkar and the 2014 Science-Expo Conference

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On Saturday, March 15, 2014  Students on Ice alumna Maya Burhanpurkar will help launch the Science Expo Conference 2014: Blueprint at Metro Hall in Toronto.   Science Expo Conference 2014 Promo from Science Expo on Vimeo. Described as the most … Read more »

SOI and alumna Candace Sudlovenick recognized by Nunavut Legislature

On March 7, 2014 the Honourable Pat Angnakak, Member of the Nunavut Legislature representing the Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu district, commended the Students on Ice program and Candace Sudlovenick, a recent participant on SOI’s 2013 Antarctic Expedition.  Thank you Ms. Angnakak for your incredible support!

Pat Angnakak


Member’s Statement 035 – 4(1): Recognizing Constituent Candace Sudlovenick

Ms. Angnakak: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to recognize the accomplishments of my constituent, Candace Sudlovenick. She is a second year student in Nunavut Arctic College’s Environmental Technology Program, who recently completed an exciting expedition to the Antarctic.



Candace Sudlovenick on the Students on Ice 2013 Antarctic Expedition
(c) Students on Ice / Mike Beedell

Mr. Speaker, Candace had the amazing opportunity to explore the other side of our planet through the popular Students on Ice program which organized a ship-based expedition for 70 university and high school students from across the world. An international team of educators, leaders, and innovators provided hands-on and inspiring educational activities on a daily basis.

Mr. Speaker, initiatives such as Students on Ice offer excellent opportunities for all youth. I hope that other young high school, college, and university students from Nunavut will apply to participate in this program to expand their knowledge and gain new global perspectives of our world, its wonders and its present and future challenges, especially as they relate to changes observed in our very own Nunavut environment.

Mr. Speaker, I encourage Nunavut youth to inform themselves of the Students on Ice program. The website describes the program’s numerous expeditions, including blogs and videos and provides information on how to apply to participate in an expedition.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate Candace for completing her recent expedition with Students on Ice in the Antarctic and I heartily encourage her to continue the journey that she has begun with further studies in the Earth sciences. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


To read full transcript (p. 5)

SOI Educator Dr. Pat Maher on the 3M Fellowship and importance of experiential learning

Dr. Pat Maher, SOI educator on the recent Antarctic expedition was recently awarded the 3M National Teaching Fellowship.

This is Canada’s highest teaching honour and recognizes Dr. Maher’s commitment to excellence in teaching through problem based and experiential learning. Best known for his field courses, Dr. Maher engages and challenges students to respect nature and to learn with all their senses. This approach has not only benefited his students but has also enriched the learning experience for SOI alum on expeditions.

Dr. Maher received this award as Associate Professor, Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management Program at UNBC. He recently joined Cape Breton University as Associate Professor of Community Studies where he plans to continue his work connecting students to nature.

Pat Maher (small)
(c) Students on Ice / Mike Beedell

Q: What is your teaching background and what led you to incorporate experiential learning into your curriculum?

I guess my teaching background is that formally I don’t really have a teaching background. I never did a Bachelor of Education or an Instructional Skills Workshop (2 of the tickets usually held up for teachers in different settings of Higher Education). I just love to teach and learn. I’d say my informal teaching background is that I worked at outdoors centres and summer camps before and during my undergraduate studies in Outdoor Recreation at Lakehead University, and around about the same time I started instructing at the Canadian Outward Bound Wilderness School (now OB Canada) outside of Thunder Bay. Being in this environment showed me how to be a great facilitator and that’s then how I’ve always approached my university teaching – more as a facilitator, mentor, friend than a preachy, know-it-all professor. Experiential learning just came naturally in this process, and I got involved with the Association for Experiential Education, a great organization to nurture this type of philosophy/practice.

Q: What is your teaching philosophy?

This is actually a tough question. I guess in a sentence, my philosophy is to allow students to be curious, self-directed and responsible for their learning. I encourage reflection, critical thought, asking questions, calling out theories – or rather showing why they might be incorrect from your perspective.

To learn more about Dr. Pat Maher’s teaching approach, read his article in Maclean’s  3M Fellow Dr. Pat Maher on why good teachers take risks

 Q: How has experiential learning benefited your students?

I guess one huge success factor is letting students be in nature – just giving the time to look, smell, touch, taste vs. trying to inundate them with facts/figures. Whether it’s in the classroom or in the field I think conventional higher education just overwhelms students with scheduling and information, when they might be better served with the time and space to simply experience it for themselves.

One good example of this for me was my 2011 field school to Haida Gwaii – I purposely didn’t create too much of a schedule, or at least I didn’t share it with the students. We just sort of were there – we had great walks in the forest, met amazing people, etc. – and learning happened. Maybe at first students thought I was being a slacker, but by the end I think they appreciated the space to drive their own learning, make their own meanings. A lot of this way of teaching comes from my experience with the Norwegian concept of Friluftsliv.

caption: Students on Ice 2013 Antarctic Expedition; (c) Students on Ice / Mike Beedell

Q: How do SOI expeditions enrich this learning experience for you and your students?

SOI sort of epitomizes what I try to do elsewhere. If every university course I taught had the logistical support that I get from SOI, teaching in higher education would be even more amazing. SOI helps with some of the practical pieces, but the people at SOI and the philosophy do equally as much to support me in how I want to teach. Overall, it’s a great fit, and one I’d like to continue in other locales.

Q: What does the 3M National Teaching Fellowship mean to you?

It’s a recognition of field courses, experiential learning, self-direction, caring about place – all concepts I’ve worked on from the fringe – all becoming topics of more mainstream importance. The award encompasses all faculty members, across all disciplines, across all of Canada – and to see Outdoor Recreation and Tourism (now Community Studies) up there with surgeons and lawyers is a wonderful thing. I think it also recognizes all the great students, colleagues, mentors, friends I’ve had over the last 10 years – we’ve all worked hard in the fore ground and the background to see some success.

caption: Dr. Pat Maher and Dr. Hans Gelter with Impacts of Tourism on Antarctica course students; (c) Students on Ice / Mike Beedell

Q: What’s next?

For me the next step is how I leverage this in general, and how I work with it at my new institution. Joining CBU is a great new adventure. The pedagogy I enjoyed using in 1, maybe 2 classes, a year at UNBC I can employ across all my teaching. So while I was in the process to get this award I was also deciding to take a risk and re-invent myself outside of my content-based research area and enter a process-based teaching area. I’ll still be able to do my research on polar tourism/recreation, but now my teaching is more comfortable and consistent with my philosophy.

In terms of leverage – I think I just have a bit more credibility now as a 3M National Teaching Fellow. Administrators, policy-makers, etc. may listen to my voice – preaching experiential learning and connection to place all that much more. I hope it doesn’t change anything about how I interact with colleagues and most importantly students.

Behind the Scenes of Expedition Arctic – an interview with Jessica Freeborn

Expedition Arctic card cropped

Students on Ice (SOI) and the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN) recently launched an exciting new website: Expedition Arctic! Produced in partnership with the Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) and Habitat Seven, Expedition Arctic  is an educational website that follows SOI’s Geoff Green, scientists from the CMN and two students as they journey through Canada’s eastern Arctic and western Greenland.

Jessica Freeborn, Manager of Projects and Partnerships for SOI was instrumental in the development of Expedition Arctic and shares her thoughts and motivation in building this virtual expedition…

Jessica Freeborn profile

Q: Where did the concept for Expedition Arctic originate? 

Even in this day and age, something that we noticed is that considering that the Arctic makes up a large chunk of Canada, there is little or no curriculum in schools that teach youth about the Arctic.  We wanted to create a resource that is accessible for youth and teachers that is educational, interactive, visually exciting and scientifically accurate.  Something teachers could use, and youth could engage with to learn about the vibrant geography, science and culture of the Arctic, and  the people that live, work and travel in the Arctic region.

Q: Tell me a bit about the partnership between SOI and the CMN

(c) Students on Ice / Martin Lipman

(c) Students on Ice / Martin Lipman

The Canadian Museum of Nature and Students on Ice have long been partners, collaborating on a number of educational outreach initiatives with regards to the Arctic. As two organizations focused on educating and inspiring youth to connect with nature, our partnership is a natural fit. SOI’s office is even housed within the CMN’s research and collection facility at the museum’s Natural Heritage Campus, which makes working together even better.

For nearly 15 years, SOI has taken youth from around the world on life-changing educational expeditions to the Polar Regions. We are fortunate that scientists from the CMN, including botanists, zoologists and palaeontologists have joined our Arctic expeditions each year and provide a wealth of knowledge to youth (and adults!) about the plants and wildlife in the Arctic. We all benefit from their Arctic expertise – the museum has a century long tradition of field-based Arctic research which continues to this day.

 Q: How did you become involved in Expedition Arctic? 

With a background in anthropology and museum studies, I had been working for the CMN as a technical writer and Coordinator for the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada. While in this position I learned about a job opportunity to lead this exciting new initiative for SOI.  My role was to oversee the entire project and to look after the logistical and content side of things.  Everything from writing content, choosing photos and videos to use, seeking out educators to create lesson plans based on current Canadian educational curriculum, to working with our multimedia and development team to creating a visually exciting website.

Q: How closely does Expedition Arctic resemble the experience students and educators have on an SOI Arctic expedition?


Almost all videos and photos, come from SOI expeditions and give accurate and up close examples of what the team and students really experience on their travels.  We had a film crew travel on the 2012 expedition (the site follows the 2012 expedition) and they captured a lot of what happens on expeditions – the animal sightings, the research that goes on, the people we meet.

Q: How was the team for Expedition Arctic selected? 

Geoff Green   Paul Hamilton

Geoff Green is the Founder of SOI and the Expedition Leader so he was a natural fit to interactively lead on this journey. The two students, Marine and Dang-Dang were also students who travelled with us on the 2012 journey and we wanted to provide a perspective of what the youth experienced, through their eyes.  The CMN scientists have long worked in the Arctic and are experts in certain fields.  Kieran in Palaeobiology, Jennifer in botany, Paul in marine life and David in Arctic biology. Each were a natural fit to join us and to be featured on the site.

 Q: What Challenges did you experience developing Expedition Arctic?

With any project you have to ask yourself basic questions. How can we ensure the proper representation of Arctic people and wildlife? How can we make sure all scientific and educational content is accurate?  How do we create a site that is educational and exciting?  You do so with the help of your team.  Having the scientists and educators write and provide info on their expertise and having a great development team (Habitat Seven) create an interactive and visually appealing site is what makes a great site.

With any team there will always be challenges.

For the scientists it might be how to engage youth in what they are talking about or it might just be trying to actually locate what they are talking about in the Arctic setting. As Dr. David Gray with the Canadian Museum of Nature puts it, you can try to teach youth about musk-ox but on the land it’s pretty hard to see one. Most of the time you just see musk-rocks, big boulders that resemble musk-ox that can be a trick of the eye.

For the Expedition Leader it could be weather as seen on SOI’s 2012 Arctic Expedition. The expedition couldn’t reach its vessel and spent extra days in Iqaluit due to the ice situation – the ice was thicker at that time in the season than most locals had seen in more than 50 years.

For the students it’s learning new facts, being away from home for the first time, meeting people from around the world and learning about themselves in the process.

For the crew it could be the ever-changing Arctic landscape and having to deal with equipment in a fast-moving environment. One minute you’re filming on a Zodiac and it’s sunny and the next minute you’re in rough waters trying to get a shot before having to get back to the boat.

And finally, for the Project Manager it’s trying to take this whole story and put it into a coherent and interesting website, running into logistical issues or just plain old deadlines. From these challenges came an exciting vibrant story.

Q: What do you like most about the site?

polar_bears  landscape.2  dwarf_fireweed cropped

Each part of the site is very special and provides such an interesting look at the Arctic region.  I have to say that it is quite visually stunning and all of the photos and videos on the site provide a story in themselves. The entire site is meant to be a visual journey where, along with the text, each photo and video are educational and eye-opening and I think we captured that here.

One of the best parts of the site is that it makes Arctic science and research fascinating!  For someone who wasn’t in the science stream as a kid, I learned so much from the site about things I never thought I would ever know about!  But also things that are important to know about such as climate change and how it affects the animals and plants that live there and also how it affects people and the planet as a whole.  Each of the natural collections featured on the site tells a story that is relevant to today.  From the tiniest organisms that provide the basis for the food chain (people are included on this food chain!) to the prehistoric animals that tell a story of the Earth millions of years ago, it’s all important in providing the building blocks to explaining the current and future trends of the people, planet and environment.

 Q: Tell me about the Arctic IQ and contest.

The quiz is pretty cool, I have to say.  It’s meant for 14 to 18 year old Canadian youth who have never before travelled with Students on Ice.  Students have the opportunity to test their Arctic knowledge and hopefully learn some interesting new facts along the way! Each time a question is answered, the youth’s name is entered into a draw to win a spot on the Students on Ice 2014 Arctic Expedition!


This is a life-changing opportunity to connect with youth from around the world in one of the most incredible, awe-inspiring places on earth. SOI alumni leave our expeditions forever changed. With a deeper connection to nature and the inspiration to be more socially, environmentally and globally aware young leaders, SOI alumni are making a difference across multiple disciplines in their communities and beyond.

But the best part of Expedition Arctic is you don’t have to wait for the opportunity to travel to the Arctic, this virtual expedition site brings the incredible journey of discovery to YOU!


Off to the Arctic onboard sailing vessel Arctic Tern I

by Pascale Otis
- biologist, photographer, videographer and first mate of Arctic Tern I


The funny thing is that when someone asks me what my job is, I truly don’t know what to say anymore. I’ve given up on trying to explain that I’m an animal physiologist specialized in cold adaptations in polar birds, but I don’t work in the field anymore because I happen to be the first mate onboard a sailboat my husband and I run in the Arctic… when we’re not in New Zealand making kids’ movies. Do you now see why I avoid answering the dreaded “What kind of work do you do” question?


So lets keep it simple and just say I spend half of my time sailing up North. Sailing vessel Arctic Tern I is a proven polar voyager, with a steel hull, retractable centerboard and all the necessary equipment conforming to an ocean-going expedition yacht. She serves a safe, cost-effective and versatile platform for polar research, education, inspiration and action. In 2012 and 2013, we left Gananoque Ontario, and made our way up North. This is where the true adventures began.

Kieran with TBMU (small)   © Students on Ice - photographing Orca

While managing science, outreach and media objectives, we got to meet amazing people along the way, which is a real privilege and highlight of every trip. For example, we’ve had a film crew from Al Jazeera TV doing a story on climate change, scientists taking samples from places that have never been studied before, WWF representatives visiting isolated communities, and we’ve even climbed cliffs to attach geolocator tags on birds!

In bad weather, the ugly side of Mother Nature is truly awful in the Arctic. But on a sunny day, there is no other place on Earth I’d rather be; there is always something stunning to look at and the scenery is constantly unfolding around us as we sail through the icy waters onboard Arctic Tern I. Our film, “Anchors Aweigh in the Arctic”, takes you on an incredible journey to the far North. You might even discover that, whatever my “job” is, it is definitely NOT boring!!!

To learn more about Arctic Tern I visit


Explore the Arctic at Winterlude!
January 31-February 17, 2014

Look for the video Anchors Aweigh in the Arctic in the back of the RBC Blue Water Gallery on the big screens—during Winterlude only! Duration: 10 minutes. Cost: Included with museum admission.

Also during Winterlude, make your way to Confederation Park and enjoy a photo exhibit titled “Explore our Arctic Here”. This is a display of incredible Arctic images and information regarding Students on Ice expeditions, research on board Arctic Tern I and SOI’s many partnerships to research and better understand the changing Arctic and its effects on biodiversity.

SOI Winterlude 2014

This exhibit was developed in partnership with the Canadian Museum of Nature, WWF-Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Canada Goose, Parks Canada and First Air.

Photo credits for “Explore our Arctic Here”:  Lee Narraway, Martin Lipman, Pascale Otis and Thorsten Milse.