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Polar-Palooza national tour comes to Fairbanks

Submitted by Kerynn Fisher
Phone: 907-474-6941


After months of touring the United States, the Polar-Palooza national tour arrives in Fairbanks today.

The science road show brings teams of polar researchers to museums and science centers across the country. Their presentations aim to increase awareness about global climate change and its impacts on the polar regions.

The three-day Fairbanks event runs May 8-10. It will include presentations to the Fairbanks Rotary and North Pole and Randy Smith Middle Schools, as well as a two-day teachers' workshop and weekend activities at the museum.

The free headline event "Stories from a Changing Planet," takes place Friday, May 9 at 7 p.m. at the West Valley High School Performing Arts Center. The multimedia presentation features high-definition documentary video, soundscapes, photos and personal stories of life, adventure and research from scientists on the tour. Doors open at 6 p.m. for polar science activities and free samples of Hot Licks Permafrost Thaw ice cream dessert.

"I've been giving public talks about polar science for 30 years. I can honestly say that I have never participated in anything this exciting, with this much impact and with such public and education interest in all those years," said Mike Castellini, associate dean of UAF's School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and veteran Polar-Palooza team member. "This is science like I have never seen it delivered before."

The Fairbanks team includes Castellini; Orville Huntington, a wildlife biologist, hunter and community leader from Huslia; Jackie Richter-Menge, a sea ice researcher with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H.; and Charles Bentley, a glaciologist and veteran Antarctic researcher. Bentley first visited in Antarctica as part of the breakthrough 1957-58 International Geophysical Year and has both a mountain and a sub-glacial trench in Antarctica named for him.

Presenting Polar-Palooza to an Alaska audience will be very different from presenting to venues in other states, Castellini said. "Alaskans know and see issues about climate change on almost a daily basis. They hear about it, see it in their backyards and read about it all the time. In the Lower 48, the concept is much more abstract."

Feedback from the local audience may be incorporated into future presentations.

Team members will be at the museum on Saturday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. with activities for visitors. Local authors Chérie Stihler and Neil Davis will also be on hand, signing copies of their books. Museum admission will be charged.

Passport to Knowledge, an independent film, TV and new media producer, organized the Polar-Palooza national tour, with funding support from the National Science Foundation and NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Fairbanks and Anchorage are the only Alaska venues for the tour, which continues through spring 2009 with presentations in 25 communities across the country. The University of Alaska Museum of the North and UAF's International Polar Year Outreach Office are co-hosting the Fairbanks presentations.

CONTACT: Kerynn Fisher, University of Alaska Museum of the North communications coordinator, at 907-474-6941 or 907-378-2559.