December 2018

SHS Teacher Heads for Antarctica!

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Photo provided by the author

Justin Kaput is pictured at the event where he learned about his selection.

Suffield High School is sending one of its own to Antarctica. SHS Alumnus (1994) and current freshman science teacher Justin Kaput was selected as a 2018 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow by National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions.

Mr. Kaput was selected from a national pool in an extremely competitive application process. When teachers and students were asked what they thought separated Mr. Kaput from his fellow applicants, a common theme emerged: passion for teaching science, love for the planet we live on, and dedication to teaching the importance of preserving our world to future generations.

On December 6th Mr. Kaput’s journey will begin when he sets sail from the southern tip of South America. He will catamaran to the National Geographic Explorer Ship where he will then make his way through the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula and Weddell Sea.

Mr. Kaput will be traveling with National Geographic veteran naturalists, photographers, and expedition leaders who have a vast knowledge and passion for Antarctica. On his voyage he will experience amazing polar landscapes and explore habitats with up close penguin, leopard seal, whale, and other marine mammal encounters. He will paddle on sea kayak expeditions, assist in underwater explorations, hike Antarctic glaciers, and cruise between icebergs on a Zodiac.

Prior to his expedition Mr. Kaput consulted with Woods Hole Oceanographic in Falmouth Massachusetts to learn about sampling techniques for micro plastics that may impact zooplankton and krill in the Antarctic. With the assistance of the Nat Geo staff scientists, he will be collecting data using these techniques to sample the Antarctic waters.

It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to visit the coldest and windiest place on the planet, but it is also a unique opportunity for SHS students to experience real world science. Back home, Mr Kaput will have his students play the part of research scientist. Students will combine his findings with climate change data to make their own conclusions about the impacts on baleen whale populations.

Mr. Kaput will be blogging and mapping his journey as he travels, all of which will be accessed by students on the SHS website. He looks forward to presenting his journey to the Suffield community when he returns.

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