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Arctic Blast 2001

Education Curriculum & Lesson Plans

Online Classroom Dogsled Expedition

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Expedition Leaders Mille Porsild & Paul Pregont


education Q: What is the objective of Arctic Blast?

A: At Nomads, our mission is to foster cultural understanding, instill a sense of environmental responsibility, and create adventurous spirits.  We accomplish this by using the allure of sled dogs and magic of arctic travel to promote learning, developing quality, multidisciplinary educational programs that captures the imagination and fascination of students of all ages, and providing access to advanced interactive telecommunications to inspire a global exchange of ideas.

We want to engage the world in the excitement and drama of a major dogsled expedition. The arctic is environmentally connected with the rest of the globe. It is not as many believe, a pure, pristine far-away land that remains "untouched". In fact, it is ever-changing.  Our major objective is to draw attention to, and educate people about, the environmental and cultural issues that are critical to the arctic today. We want to underscore vital role the Arctic plays in sustaining a healthy global environment.  Because of our tremendous impact, major environmental changes such as Trans-boundary pollution and global warming are being played out right before our eyes. 


education Q: Where did the idea for Arctic Blast 2001 originate?

A: It was when we met an older native musher, Paloosie Kooneeliusie of Qikiqtarjuaq, (Broughton Island) at a travel show in Chicago in 1997... Paloosie does not speak English, but through his grand daughter,  the use of hands, face and a map he told us of his life dream to dogsled from his home to Grise Fiord following ancient routes of his ancestors. Instantly, the idea of Arctic Blast 2001 was born. Paloosie will travel with us, in spirit, and help celebrate the new voice of Nunavut. The birth of Nunavut is a unique opportunity to highlight the future while paying our respect to an ancient culture. Because our chance encounter with Paloosi, Nunavut and the native voice is a major focal point as we strive to create a representative, multi disciplinary program. 


education Q: Why such emphasis on educating children and adults about the Arctic?

A: The arctic presents a history of our relationship with the our planet.  Think of the arctic as a magnifying glass; most issues exist in extremes. For example, the native people do not talk of global warming as theoretical phenomena, the consequences are already part of their everyday vocabulary.  We have often been told matter-of-factly, "No, you can’t travel that route since global warming!" As we observe the subtleties of the land and people, we realize the voice of the arctic is not very loud.  It is crucial for the world to listen and understand the value of 'traditional' ways and respect.  We sincerely hope the solutions become more obvious through our efforts.


education Q: Why do you find computers and telecommunications so useful in educating children about the environment, science, social, and cultural issues?

A: We want people to experience the joy of traveling by a dog team through the arctic. Today’s technology give us the ability to interact globally — person to person, school to school, student to adventurer.  In a fraction of a second, we bring the sights, sounds, and smells of this incredible expedition to everyone, everywhere.  Our communication system is an incredible tool that helps students of all ages broaden their world perspectives.  Schools click in to watch, listen, and learn one of the 30 different Inuktitut words for snow.  They meet "Sarah," the girl who lives in Grise Fiord the most Northern village of North America. The world shrinks; they talk and exchange thoughts. 

Computers also help us connect our curriculum, collaboration activities, and daily perspectives with any subject area.  An interactive online classroom program like Arctic Blast can transform the natural interest of students in adventure into a comprehensive global understanding.


education Q: What are the risks involved in an expedition like this?

A: There is always a risk that a team member — dog or human — will be seriously hurt. We will be traveling, alone, across an immense tundra, shifting sea ice,  and open water over a four month period. Our fate is partially controlled by the whims of Mother Nature.  We will be far beyond the realm of immediate medical assistance; quick action, careful and detailed logistics planning, and intense training are all we have to fall back on. Polar bears present a constant threat, although a dog's bark usually scares them away. An agitated walrus is a different story.


education Q: How are you preparing for this expedition?

A: Last spring, we completed a training expedition in the western arctic.  Beginning on the Arctic Coast and working our way back into the MacKenzie Delta, we practiced and refined all the skills needed for the 2001 expedition. It is important to anticipate problems while having the resource and knowledge base to correct even the unexpected.   A great deal of work goes into team building. We constantly discuss conflict resolution, interpersonal communication, team work, and group dynamics techniques. 

The dogs are run according to their training schedule.  Their health and performance is monitored daily.


education Q: You have already completed a number of Arctic Expeditions — What sets Arctic Blast 2001 apart from all the other internet expeditions out there?

A: Arctic Blast is not an expedition with the sole objective of getting from point A to point B. It is an education project . In other words, the expedition is the tool — not the goal.

Our goal is to fulfill a growing need for relevant, engaging, and even fun interactive content — the keyword is, of course, interactive. This is way we are so excited to bring Lotus QuickPlace and Lotus Sametime into the classrooms across North America. These are tools that will  finally allow the collaboration we have been looking and hoping for, for so long. This we believe can revolutionize the way we look at communication and collaboration within the school system. 

We also like to emphasize that we are not the focus of expedition, the dogs, the students, and the native people of the land traveled.


education Q: How will the dogs be the focus?

A: We can only do so much!  Ultimately, it is our Polar Huskies that get kids excited about learning.  The dogs are literally "the characters" on the trail. As the ambassadors of Arctic Blast, they will be telling the story on the website, and can even be considered the event coordinators, calling out to the kids.  Ten years experience has proven that by following the personality, drive, compassion, and dedication of our sled dogs captivates students of all ages.  They are inspired to learn through the bond they inevitably build with the dogs. Really, this is what puts our expedition above and beyond anything else out there.


education Q: But is there any "first" about the expedition itself?

A: Yes, but our expedition is not necessarily about firsts.  That said, it will be the first ever live transmission from the magnetic North Pole.  Our signal will reach classrooms around the world. Our mode of transportation — dogsledding — has been used by arctic nomads for thousands of years, and our style of travel is not that different from early expeditions. We are combining a number of ancient routes that have been past down for generations. Taking us through 5 villages varying in size from 2 to 3000 citizens over almost 2,500 miles, we will not be completely separated from civilization, but it will be close.

Ironically, in a matter of minutes, we are connected with beaches of Sydney, the ruins of Mexico city and the streets of New York.  We simply pull our laptop out of its waterproof carrying case, hook it up to the antenna on the sled, and beam the sounds and images of the arctic to the worldwide web. Our educational focus is what makes our journey out of the ordinary. It is a strong mixture that makes for an incredible adventure, exposing our audience to the many faces of the arctic. We also have hopes for another unusual "first" - the largest live moderated chat ever orchestrated by the Polar Husky dog boss "Spank"!


Q: What do you hope will come out of Arctic Blast 2001?

A: I hope those who take part in Arctic Blast will come to appreciate how interconnected, fragile, and amazing our world really is. The biggest obstacle in dealing with environmental as well as cultural problems is a lack of education, understanding, and most importantly, awareness. On one hand, people are more aware now than ever before. Sustainability has become a common word of our present day culture, yet we remain unaware of the effects of our lifestyle and resource use on the environment and ultimately its people. Education is a powerful tool that helps us promote respect, understanding, and care of the natural world.



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