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Education Program

Expedition Well Wishes…

“The Arctic is a very special region, stunning it its beauty and important scientifically, environmentally, economically and socially. During my Arctic Arc expedition in 2007, where I walked from Siberia to Greenland over 2000 km, I saw parts of this region very few people have experienced. It gave me a new appreciation of our world, and the fragility of the earth, and the polar regions in particular, especially when faced with climate change.

The participants of Students on Ice are not only lucky to experience this region, but are the decision makers and activists of tomorrow, and what they will learn on this journey and take back to their families and communities has the potential to create great change for the future. I wish the students and teachers an incredible voyage, and I hope they won’t come away with a single appreciation of a unique region, but with a fire in their belly to create a sustainable new future.”

Alain Hubert,
Polar Explorer and Founder, The International Polar Foundation


Our journey to the Arctic will bring together an inspiring international team of students, educators, scientists, historians, artists, elders, explorers, authors, leaders, innovators and polar experts. The positive energy and synergies of group members working together are sure to create rich a environment for learning and discovery!

Educational Philosophy

Students on Ice provides participants with unique educational experiences that will challenge the way they perceive the world. Our aim is not to simply provide students with a trip to a unique destination, but rather to give students an opportunity to have an aesthetic experience in some of the most wild and awe-inspiring ecosystems in the world. We do not want students to just pass through a place with camera in hand, but rather, to listen to the land; to feel these natural places, and in turn, explore how humans feel when immersed in such places. Ultimately, we hope students will experience a transformative connection with nature; a connection that changes the way they understand and act in the world.

Educational Approach

SOI’s approach to education weaves together elements of experiential, expeditionary and problem-based learning. In starting with a very hands-on approach, active participation and critical thinking are important elements in the SOI learning process. Through posing questions, experimenting and constructing meaning, the learning becomes personal, relational and exploratory in nature. Our expedition will become a symbolic learning journey, from the initial development of ideas, to addressing problems and possible solutions, to final reflections. We recognize that the journey will be unique for each student, as will the manner in which each student effects positive change in her/his individual lives following the expedition.

Educational Format

On expedition, several different learning formats are used depending on the topic being explored, our location, ice and weather conditions, the skills and experiences of the education team members, and the interests of the students we have brought together. These learning formats include: presentations, seminars, workshops and hands-on activities that will be shore, Zodiac, and ship-based in setting. SOI also incorporates small group discussions and other reflection opportunities into our days through Pod Teams.

Pod Teams support student learning by connecting students with peers and mentors in smaller educational circles. The purpose of the Pods is to give students an opportunity to reflect, question, share and process the experiences they live each day on the journey. Working with skilled facilitators, students consider different topics, themes, leading questions and work through learning activities that guide their reflection. Pod facilitators consult with students to determine how they should use their time together. They also help students think deeply about daily experiences, explore experience impact on individual consciousness, and translate these into potential positive outcomes in their respective home communities and lives. Pods offer students a framework through which they can create personal knowledge.

2012 Educational Themes

The expedition’s education program has three main themes:


…of humans and natural systems

  •    How are we connected to nature and to each other?
  •    In what ways are cultural, social and natural systems related?
  •    How does change in one part of a system have an impact on something else?


…the quest for adventure, purpose and meaning

  •     How do we see and understand ourselves and our relationship with the world?
  •     What do you hope to learn on your Arctic expedition? In what ways will this experience affect you and how you see your future?
  •     How can you make best use of your interests and talents to help build the world we need?


…personal, environmental and social change

  •     Why are the Arctic and the Earth changing?
  •     How can we work to bring about positive changes to our lives, communities and the world?
  •     What changes can/should you make?
  •     How does personal and societal transformation happen?


Educational Goals

The expedition’s education program has five main goals:

  1. CONNECT to the natural world.
  2. FOSTER a new understanding and respect for the planet.
  3. LEARN about the Arctic environment and northern cultures
  4. DISCOVER solutions to our most pressing challenges.
  5. INSPIRE each other to make a difference.

Educational Objectives

Participating in a world-class interdisciplinary education program, students will develop the knowledge, skills, perspectives and practices needed to be polar ambassadors, community builders and environmentally responsible citizens.

Students will learn about:

Polar Fundamentals

…the geological, geopolitical, cultural, artistic and exploration history of the region; geography; terrestrial ecology; flora and fauna; glaciology; oceanography; marine biology; atmospheric sciences; and contemporary issues.

Environmental Issues, Solutions and Leadership

…environment understood in the broadest sense of the word, where the planet is regarded as a global ecosystem in which all natural and human created systems are interconnected; issues such as climate change, conservation, biodiversity, energy, population growth, consumption, resource depletion, cultural change, adaptation and resiliency; dependency of social and economic systems on natural systems; the importance of environmental factors to human well-being; and locally-relevant sustainable living practices. Consideration will also be given to contemporary social, economical and geopolitical issues ranging from health and wellness, and quality of life, to community design, financial systems, sovereignty and international law.

Students will begin to REFLECT on expedition experiences and TRANSLATE these experiences in ways that are personally relevant to home life and future aspirations.

Students will be supported in planning next steps and making decisions.

Students will TAKE ACTION!

Educational Phases

The expedition’s education program has three main phases:

Phase 1) Before Expedition

A pre-expedition preparatory program designed to help get students into an Arctic mindset is available on the Students on Ice website at under the Education Program’s Arctic section. This program is web-accessible and self-directed in nature.

Prior to the expedition, students are also encouraged to do as much reading and research as possible. This site has some excellent resources to help get students started, as well as a suggested reading list. Be sure to check out many of the web-links listed on this site and the stories, announcements and links posted to SOI’s Blog. Begin familiarizing yourself with the many issues facing the Arctic.

Students are encouraged to prepare a list of questions that are of interest to them in their personal expedition journal.

Journal Questions

Students on Ice encourages students to answer the following questions BEFORE their arrival to Reykjavik:

  1. Where do I come from? What physical place do I identify as my “home”? (is it your community, your city/town, your province or country?…and on a broader level, what is the most special place to me in the world? Why is it important to me? How has it changed since I’ve known it?)
  2. What do I think is the significance of this expedition experience? (How will I make meaning of it? How might it inform my life path?)
  3. What am I especially interested to learn about?
  4. How will I go about sharing what I’ve learned when I return home?
  5. Why does the Arctic matter?
  6. What does the Arctic mean to me? (…and on a broader level, what does nature and the natural world mean to me? Describe my relationship with the natural world…)
  7. How is the Arctic relevant to where I live?
  8. Describe an example in your home community of a recent initiative, project, policy, and/or action that has led to positive social and environmental change.

Journal Task

In the personal journal that we have asked you to bring, reflect on the expedition themes, goals, objective and questions we have offered to you. Be prepared to share your ideas with other participants upon arriving in Iqaluit!

Phase 2) On Expedition

During the expedition there will be many different activities each day including:

  • Visits to various Arctic communities and interaction with community members
  • Landings, hikes and Zodiac cruises
  • Presentations
  • Workshops and hands-on activities
  • Participation in on-going scientific research with education team members
  • Opportunities for personal reflection through group discussions, artistic expression, personal journal keeping and other means
  • Whale, Polar Bear, Seabird, Walrus, Seal and Iceberg spotting

The Students on Ice Education Team will be eager to interact with, interpret, excite and mentor students throughout each day. Take advantage! A one-on-one conversation during meal time can be equally or more informative than attending a presentation or workshop on a topic of interest.

Over the course of the entire expedition students will create personal knowledge and develop as leaders. They will explore how youth are effective agents of change and how their efforts can contribute to positive societal action. They will consider opportunities to establish sustainable livelihoods and make ecologically-informed choices early in their lives. Students will also explore how the choices they make can have a ripple effect and the actions they take can make a difference.

Phase 3) Conclusion of Expedition

A youth forum will conclude the expedition’s education program. This will be an opportunity for us to explore our ideas and address many of the important issues we have learned about facing our communities, the Arctic and the planet. It will be an opportunity to generate ideas, solutions and recommendations for action and change.

SOI will facilitate group discussions on ways to get involved in youth-based environmental, economical and social initiatives, scientific research, and other work upon returning home.

Phase 4) Post-Expedition

After our final celebration and fond farewells, participants will become members of a growing international community of past expedition participants. Students on Ice Alumni are global citizens that are known for their positive leadership, caring approach, developing creative solutions and making choices for a sustainable future.

The Polar Ambassador Pledge is a commitment that students and staff are invited to make to each other on all SOI expeditions. The promise is that participants make changes in the way they live and act in the world. Part of this means sharing the experience of visiting a polar region. The other critical part of this commitment is to reduce our impact on the planet by changing things at home, at school, in our communities and countries. This initiative was designed to be personally relevant for each student and be a bridge between the expedition experience and the actions students can take when they return home. The SOI Polar Ambassador Program provides a framework for goal setting and benchmarks the students to work to meet. One of these is for all students to give presentations about their new experiences and knowledge to their schools, sponsors and other community groups. This has proven to be a great way for the students to process their expedition thoughts, ideas and experiences.

SOI Alumni form an incredible network of people who have shared unique, awe-inspiring experiences in the polar regions. They are making a difference at all levels and in all sectors of society around the world.

Students on Ice is proudly supported by bv02.

This website was made possible by a generous contribution from the Leacross Foundation.

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