Bringing Citizen Science & Snow to the Classroom

Under gorgeous spring skies by the banks of the Ounasjoki river last Friday, CHARTER Arctic researchers Sirpa Rasmus and Leena Leppänen brought their snow science to the next generation of researchers. With the participation of the Grade 5 students from the Rovaniemi Steiner school students and their teacher, the principles of snow structure, snow pack, snow layers and the tools used and needed for hands on snow science were all introduced. After a short indoor class was held, we all got outside to test them out!

Although ‘Citizen science’ is not a specific task of the CHARTER project, it has grown out of a need for groundtruthing the snow pack for calibrating against satellite data. Due to the challenges of on site fieldwork these last two snow seasons, the CHARTER team created a protocol for analysing the snow pack for use in the field and have created (in Finnish) a snow science focussed page on the CHARTER website (In English, The Secrets of Snow, in Finnish Lumen salaisuuksia ratkomassa).

As we worked on this, we realised that this topic has great potential for reaching a broader audience about snow science, especially for those in the North. Our Rovaniemi team have been brainstorming about whether it would be possible to create a simplified snow protocol and teaching materials that would make it possible for teachers, students and non specialists to dig their own pits, learn about snow structure and layering and perhaps upload their findings to a long term community monitoring site. We now have 5 snow pit kits based in Rovaniemi for loan, and hope to expand them out across northern Finland.

Baby steps first though! Thanks to the keen participation of 11-12 year olds from a local school, this was our first trial run and we can say it was a success and if the kids learned, so did our team, so thanks to all those who participated to make this happen. Some photos of the day below and it was also covered by the local news paper, Lapin kansa.

All photos, Philip Burgess

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