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Arctic Blast 2001

Education Curriculum & Lesson Plans

Online Classroom Dogsled Expedition

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"Weekly Topic & News" is posted here every Monday by 7 a.m. CST

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"The Weekly Topic and News" merges the expedition, educational goals, and the needs of teachers. It is the most important component of your online classroom expedition.

Start each week with an in-depth look at this page.

The topic of the week is emphasized with clearly presented, facts and information supplementing each unit of the curriculum package.

Information is also provided to help make real world connections, investigate personal values and discuss current issues.

Completing the circle, the weekly topic will also be highlighted from the Arctic Blast explorers.

Using the sights, sounds, and wilderness perspectives of the arctic facilitate meaningful and energized classes.

The Weekly Topic and News integrates the nationally accredited, K through 12, Nunavut curriculum package and the weekly reports from the expedition. This is where the adventure of collaborative learning really begins.

Planning The Expedition

I asked Mille the other day about the history of Nomads and how the Arctic Blast 2001 expedition came to be. She said, "We were at a outdoor travel expo in Chicago in 1997 when an elder Inuit walked up to our booth. He was with his granddaughter when he introduced himself as Paloosie Kooneeliusie of Qikiqtarjuaq, (Broughton Island).

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."

Choosing the route turned out to be one of the easier decisions made throughout the whole process. The focus of their dog sled program was changing from expeditions where education was involved, but not the first priority, to expeditions where educational programs used the expedition to promote learning. To implement the new emphasis required research. Information needed to be gathered about the curriculum needs of schools and teachers, available technology, as well as routes and philosophies of past expeditions. Interviews with educators and administrators provided valuable insight. Designing and implementing the program was a totally different story and required many other skills. Realize that all this was all happening at a time when Paul and Mille were balancing financial realities with trying to fulfill their life's dreams.

Paul and Mille were no strangers to the rigors of trail life on an extended expedition. The stress of possible failure was not a new strain. There were a few times, however, where either Paul or Mille seriously questioned the reality of meeting their goals. Their diligence, dedication, and hard work paid off and this year's Arctic Blast program reaches students at a comprehensive level never before attained by a major expedition.

Last week, a peek into the garage revealed stacks of food, piles of clothes, and bundles of rope. Gear stretched from wall to wall. Just to get the right kind and amount of equipment or food takes careful planning. Paul and Mille keep detailed records of every single item they use. Each year they evaluate the lists and make necessary corrections for the following years.

This attention to detail allows them to create a healthy and energy packed menu. They must factor their own tastes and food preferences as well. For example, Mille doesn't like beans and Paul prefers not to eat onion soup. Exact portions or amount of food is also very critical - not having enough food could prove disastrous.

A complete and accurate budget accounts for everything that is packed in the sled (including the sled) or worn by a team member. A four month arctic expedition is an expensive endeavor and fundraising is required to make ends meet. Paul and Mille have worked with many different companies over the years. In the end, there needs to be enough money for high-tech communication equipment, durable high quality clothes and other gear, and dog food. This year, the team has partnered with the expedition's major sponsors of Lotus and Connectria.

Traveling back to 1997 again, other crucial decisions had to be made. Many of Paul and Mille's Polar Huskies originally came from polar explorer Will Steger's kennel. Some of these dogs had even been selected to go on major expeditions. These were excellent, strong, and healthy dogs. In three or four years, however, some of the dogs in the kennel would be a little old for an extended expedition. (They would still be great for shorter trips.) Decisions had to be made: which dogs should be bred? how many litters of puppies? The choices were difficult. Finally, Paul and Mille realized that it would be the size of the kennel that would dictate the size of the human team.

Planning an expedition like Arctic Blast 2001 is no easy task. Things don't happen overnight. What might appear as a particular event happening in a certain year is actually the accumulation of YEARS of work. There are hurdles in every direction - even something as simple as trying to get equipment delivered. Arctic Blast didn't happen by itself either. Without the dedicated support of friends, businesses, teachers, and family members, the expedition would have been impossible. The Arctic Blast team extends beyond the kennel in Minnesota and across the globe.

Here are some "outside links" for further information and different perspectives...
Route: www.atlas.gc.ca/english/quick_maps/quick_maps/nunavut.jpg
Equipment: http://myhome.zaobao.com/home/z/zjw/tips/outdoor.html
Budget: http://www.mymamasaid.com/save/save_budget.htm
Team Building: http://www.bham.wednet.edu/mod8team.htm

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Gordon Wiltsie, Paul Pregont, Henrik Larsen


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