Teacher goes back to school at South Pole

May 22, 2001

COLLEGE STATION -- Come November, while her class in New York state prepares to enjoy that Thanksgiving turkey, teacher Marietta Cleckley will be down at the bottom of the globe, exploring Antarctica with a research team from Texas A&M University.

Cleckley has been chosen as one of eight public school teachers to participate in the National Science Foundation's Teachers Experiencing Antarctica. Along with a Texas A&M team led by Mahlon C. "Chuck" Kennicutt II, she'll be studying the impact of human habitation on the area around McMurdo Station, the largest and oldest U.S. base in Antarctica.

"We're very excited to be taking Marietta with us to Antarctica," said Kennicutt, who heads Texas A&M's Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG), which journeys to the region to conduct research each year. "She'll be spending a week here in College Station this summer, getting acquainted with our team, learning field work techniques and finalizing Web-based teaching units for use with students for the month she's at McMurdo."

Cleckley, a 10th-grade biology teacher from Uniondale, N. Y., was selected for the TEA on the basis of a national competition. Her students, as well as those at Cypress Grove Intermediate, GERG'S adopted school in College Station, will be able to follow her field activities and complete educational activities related to the team's Antarctic research via the World Wide Web.

"GERG has an on-going research project to study the historical impact on the Antarctic environment of the presence of McMurdo Station, which was founded in 1955," Kennicutt said. "The team's activities, coordinated by co-PI's Andrew Klein of Texas A&M and Paul Montagna of the University of Texas, will involve sampling soil and marine sediments and analyzing aerial photographs with an eye to improving management of human effects on the fragile Antarctic environment. "Marietta will be working alongside seasoned earth science researchers," he observed. "And, thanks to virtual reality, so will her students."
Contact: Judith White, 979-845-4664, jw@univrel.tamu.edu Chuck Kennicutt, 979-862-2323 ext. 111, mck2@gerg.tamu.edu.

Texas A&M University

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