A couple of weeks ago, I was tidying up my room. And by that, I mean really tidying up - not just shovelling my clutter into the nearest cupboard (or under my bed). It was time for a real change: I had to get rid of all the mess.
Tidying up is not my favourite thing to do. However: once I got started, I found out that it was quite rewarding, in fact.
I found a long lost sock (with a purple polkadot pattern) and could finally unite it with its lonely partner. I found 10 euro's worth of cash. And, best of all, I found a book called 'Polar Science and Global Climate - An International Resource for Education and Outreach'. The book was published in the International Polar Year 2007-2008 and I'd got it at the IPY conference in Oslo in 2010. Since then, I hadn't really looked at it (which shows how often I tidy my room...)
As soon as I found the book, I abandoned my cleaning resolutions. The book was far too interesting, and contained a lot of easy, fun ways to introduce polar science concepts to the broad audience. The lesson 'Penguin Reunion', for example, lets 'participants play a group game to demonstrate how penguin parents and chicks are able to find their families in large, loud rookeries'. And in another lesson, 'students use ice samples and a coloured dye to investigate differences in the structure of sea ice and freshwater ice'.
What I liked about this book, is that it introduces lay people to polar science in an easy accessible way. And that is, in my opinion, also a very import mission for us as APECS members: inspire the broad audience.
To inspire other people, first you need to be inspired yourself. That's why, in my opinion, the APECS Netherlands gathering on the 4th of November was so very successful.
With approximately 30 people, we came together in the Arctic Centre in Groningen. In the morning, we had an interesting talk from Dr. Greg Poelzer, all the way from Canada - he is the Executive Chair of the University of Saskatchewan'sInternational Centre for Northern Governance and Development. In the afternoon, after a delicious lunch (thank you, Willem Barentsz Polar Institute!) we had very inspiring presentations by APECS members - the topics varying from long tailed skuas (traveling pole-to-pole) to the archaeology of Jan Mayen. In addition, Jorden Splinter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave a talk about his role as senior advisor Polar Affairs, and Dr. Annette Scheepstra, told us about the Willem Barentsz Polar Institute.
To conclude the day, Nyckle Swierstra, senior communication advisor of the University of Groningen, shared some tips and tricks to improve science presentations, focusing on the importance of telling a story - getting the message of your research across to the public by communicating in an enthusiastic, inspiring way. Together with film institute Sensu Science, he gave us a crash course in filmmaking. We had to design our own storyboard for a short polar film - a sort of FrostByte video.
All in all, the programme contained so many interesting views on polar science, that we had a lot to talk about during the informal party afterwards - so much, in fact, that I almost missed my train. The gathering of APECS Netherlands was full of interesting 'sparks', full of creativity. Meeting so many people who all share the love for the polar regions, creates a very inspiring atmosphere. A lot of new plans were made (among which writings a proceedings publication based on the presentations of APECS NL members), a lot of networking was done. I got home with so much energy, that I even managed to finish the tidying up of my room...