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The official website of ISAMR (International Student-Led Arctic Monitoring and Research).

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October 2015 Polar Bear Trip

November 4, 2015

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Bunmi Osias The Park School of Baltimore '17

Today I, along with the rest of the Park students, returned to Baltimore. After I rolled out of bed and got to the airport we caught our first flight to Toronto. During our layover in Toronto we had lunch and discussed ways to improve the October trip and the work we will need to do when we are back in Baltimore. After we arrived in Baltimore, we drove to school and said our goodbyes. Although it was sad saying goodbye I know that I will be able to stay in contact with everyone who went on the trip. I am so glad that I had this opportunity to do meaningful science and befriend amazing people.

November 3, 2015

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Leah Hicks Kelvin High School ‘17

Today was my favourite day out of the whole trip. We went to cape marry for a tour about the prince of whales fort and everything that happened there. We were all outside for about 45 minutes and freezing by the end of the tour. The second thing on our agenda for the day was Jill’s cabin. At Jill’s cabin we were made an amazing lunch of arctic char chowder, wild rice and bannock. During lunch we talked about our presentation from Caroline and what we took with us from her talk. After lunch Scott and I made a fire outside and people slowly started coming outside to enjoy the fire and get rides of the ATVs. The rest of the afternoon was spent either on the ATVs, sewing out mittens, or out by the fire. We sadly had to say goodbye to Jill, the Jr Rangers and Churchill as we boarded the train. Pizza was picked up from Gypsies for the train. The train ride was included in many highlights of the trip for people due to the northern lights. We were able to go un into the dome and watch the northern lights until late at night. It was a spectacular way to say goodbye to Churchill.

November 4, 2015

Today was my favourite day out of the whole trip. We went to Cape Merry for a tour about the Prince of Whales Fort and everything that happened there. We were outside for about 45 minutes and freezing by the end of the tour. The second thing on our agenda for the day was going to Jill’s cabin. At Jill’s cabin we ate an amazing lunch of arctic char chowder, wild rice and bannock that Jill prepared for us. During lunch we talked about our presentation from Caroline and what we took with us from her talk. After lunch Scott and I made a fire outside and people slowly started coming outside to enjoy the fire and get rides of the ATVs. The rest of the afternoon was spent either on the ATVs, sewing out mittens, or out by the fire. We sadly had to say goodbye to Jill, the Junior Canadian Rangers, and Churchill as we boarded the train. Pizza was picked up from Gypsy’s for the train. The train ride was included in many highlights of the trip for people due to the northern lights. We were able to go in into the dome and watch the northern lights until late at night. It was a spectacular way to say goodbye to Churchill.

November 2, 2015

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Julia Miles Kelvin High School '19

Today was day two on the tundra buggy. It started off early as usual with breakfast and a search for various pieces of equipment. About one hour into the tundra buggy drive, we found a mother with two cubs. It was a tough act to follow, but the ten other bears we saw today we equally as exciting. At times, we were observing three or four bears at once, making everything pretty hectic. Back at the CNSC, we had an evening talk from Caroline, a Churchill elder about the Dene people and their culture. The Junior Rangers also gave a short presentation. Data organization, mitten making and packing filled the rest of the evening, as we are leaving the CNSC tomorrow. It has been an amazing trip so far and it's been great meeting all the Baltimore and Churchill kids. I don't think any of us are ready to go home.

November 1, 2015

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Antonina Kandiurin, '17 Junior Ranger

Today on the tundra buggy I've gotten to see polar bears in a new light. The polar bears were doing things I have never seen them do before, even though I have lived in Churchill for just about 16 years I've never gotten to see polar bears spar or role around everywhere in the snow trying to relieve their itchiness. It's so amazing seeing the bears and all of their own personalities and how they react to things in different ways.

We saw about 15 bears in total and got a few pretty good pictures of at least 6. In my opinion, I thought that the bears were very cooperative when it came to taking pictures of them. Being out on the Tundra Buggy kind of gives me a different perspective of the bears. Living my everyday life in Churchill, I never actually think about all the bears outside of town that are doing all these amazing things and socializing.

Some of the bears today had some pretty cool scars on them and it just shows you how they interact with each other, the things they have to do to eat and get through their everyday lives. There were two bears today that we named Kansas City and Jakarta, you can tell that Jakarta was a pretty tall bear but he was also very skinny so it wasn't a surprise that they didn't spar when they came across each other because of the condition it was in. My over all experience on the Tundra Buggy's today was a pretty good one because it gave me a whole different point of view of the way that I saw polar bears growing up doing my everyday life stuff in Churchill.

Melissa Gilbert, ‘17 Kelvin High School, Winnipeg

Today November 1st was our first day on the tundra buggy. From 8am-4pm w spent our time finding and documenting polar bears. Many people were taking whisker print, body condition and body size pictures of 14 bears. Amsterdam, our first bear a female with tags in both ears, came right up to the buggy and was very curious about our buggy as well as the other buggies near us. Shortly after her we saw Baltimore, Cairo, Denver and Edmonton. ISAMR (our group) has decided to name the bears we discover after cities around the world. Other names we used today were Firenze, Geneva, Hampton, Istanbul, Jakarta, and Kansas City. These bears we found all over the tundra and near Hudson Bay, some lying down, fighting, or walking around. After 8 hours on the buggy, we came back to the CNSC and ate a big delicious dinner. Dr. Jane Waterman had a very interesting presentation prepared for us about the research on polar bears after we ate and for the rest of the evening we got to help with data collection and hang out with each other. Overall today was really exciting to see the bears and really see what Churchill has to offer!

Isaac Lichtenstein ’18 The Park School of Baltimore

After an early egg and potato breakfast, we embarked onto the Tundra Buggies for our first day of Whisker Printing. After a brief and bumpy ride we spotted out first bear, Amsterdam who was followed by Baltimore, and then Cairo, Denver, Hampton, Jakarta and Kansas. We passed an additional four or five bears, but they stayed in the distance, to far to warrant a name. The hours before lunch were a flurry of bear activity, everything from snuggling to sparring. After a brief snack, we tackled the next four hours of bear activity, which included some more intense sparring, and a pair of picturesque images: A large bear standing nobly atop a boulder, the freezing bay and cloud-wreathed sun in the background. Closer to the end, we spotted our final bear, an unnamed one who lay peacefully on a hunk of ice, overlooking the same bay with a quiet demeanor. It was a brilliant first day; we saw an absurd amount of bears. I can say, undoubtedly, this has been an amazing and new experience, and one that I hope to return to in future years.

October 31, 2015

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Zoe Kelvin High School ‘16

        We started the day off with breakfast on the train after we

traveled overnight. We arrived in Churchill around 9 am on Saturday morning. Once everyone loaded their luggage into the back of the truck we were fortunate to visit two museums. The first one was the museum at the Churchill train station; there were many exhibits on the Churchill culture and history. The second was the Eskimo museum, this was an art museum, which also included Churchill’s past and culture. Later that morning we all piled into a bus and drove to CNSC. We had a quick introduction and went off in a hike in the tundra. We had another quick meeting that consisted of permafrost and thermology. After supper we headed out to trick-or-treat! This was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. After the candy we joined the junior rangers party at the complex, which included of bowling, dancing and of course candy. Our fantastic day and we can’t wait for tomorrow out on the tundra buggies!

Bunmi Osias The Park School of Baltimore ‘17

Today was a great day. In the morning we ate a delicious breakfast on the train and prepared to leave the train. Once we arrived in Churchill we were greeted by falling snow, which was a nice surprise. We went to the Parks Canada Visitors Centre where we learned about the history of Churchill, which was pretty neat. We got to see pelts, clothing and learn more about the culture of Churchill before and after the Europeans came to Canada. After we learned about the history of Churchill we went to the trading post where we got souvenirs and we ended our time in town at the Eskimo Museum. Once we got to the CNSC we had a short meeting where we went over rules for living in the CNSC and other good things to know. Once we were settled into our rooms our group went on a walk while Leah Hicks and I organized the soil samples and added on to the DNA extraction protocol. Tomorrow Leah, Dania, and I will extract DNA from the soil samples we collected on the 2014 and 2015 summer trips. After eating dinner with the rest of ISAMR we got into a CNSC van and went trick or treating. Trick or treating was really fun and very different than in Baltimore. The police and bear patrol cars gave us candy. Another interesting thing that happened when we went trick or treating was that we got quite a few freezy pops as well as soda. We regrouped at Jill’s house and from there we went to a Halloween party. The party was great; we bowled, played cards, and had a great time. At 10:00 as we were leaving the party, out of nowhere; a giant siren started blasting out of nowhere. Since none of us knew what to do most people ran inside while a few us stayed in one place. Aliyah, the only person from Churchill in our group told us that the siren signified the start of curfew. Today was a great way to start off our time in Churchill and I can’t wait to see what other fun things we will do while we are here.

Aliyah Dingwall Duke of Marlborough ’20 Junior Ranger

The day started out pretty good, we woke up and had breakfast on the train and arrived in Churchill at about 9:30/10:00. When we got to the station I went home to see my family and pack a bag for the CNSC and everyone else toured around town. When we got to the study center we went for a walk and learned about some plants in the area, then we set up our rooms and had dinner. In the evening we had a short presentation about thermology, and whisker printing. At night we got our costumes on and went trick or treating! Then we joined the rest of the junior rangers for a party. Everyone danced, bowled, and got to know each other better. Dania and Antonina joined us to stay at the CNSC. Tomorrow we are going on Tundra Buggies to take pictures of polar bears; I am excited because I haven’t been on a buggy since I was little. I had a great day and this trip has been very fun so far. Check in tomorrow for another entry about our day!

October 30, 2015

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Jack Kalvar The Park School of Baltimore ‘18

Today was a day of travel. We drove for eight hours and rode on the train for sixteen hours. Today was a long day to say the least. We started off our day by waking up at 4:00 a.m. then we drove seven hours to the beautiful Pisew Falls. On the way to the falls, we all ate delicious poutine at a rest stop. The waterfalls were stunning and all of us were in awe. After watching the falls, some of us decided to partake in a snowball fight and we had lots of fun. We then drove one hour to the VIA Rail station in Thompson. Most of the kids decided to take a walk through Thompson and learn about the city. After we returned to the station, we got on the train and started on the sixteen-hour journey. Three hours down, thirteen to go. Wish us luck

Scott Stewardson Duke of Marlborough ’19 Junior Ranger

Today was an early day. We woke up at the not so bright, but early four am. This morning when we were going to Kelvin High School, I had to go back Molly’s house because I forgot the calibration paper. This paper is a meter by meter white piece of paper, and the person holding it had to give their life up and walk distances up to ninety meters at a time, which really makes your back hurt. Trust me, I know. We stopped at gas stations in Ashern, Grand Rapids, and Ponton. In Ponton the kids from Park School had Poutine for the first time. It was one of the best poutines I have ever had. We stopped at Pisew falls and it was beautiful and cold. We had a snowball fight and I was amazing. We walked into Thompson when we got to the train station and ended up at Wal-Mart for a few minutes, I bought a pack of juice and two boxes of cookies. And now we are on the train going to Churchill, MB. Can’t wait. Yaaaaaaayyyyyyyy.

Marissa Hamlin, Kelvin High School ‘19

I learnt today just how dark it really is at 4:00 am, when I woke up to get ready for our departure. A few last minute scrambles later, I arrived at Kelvin High School with all of my miscellaneous belongings. We tumbled into vans, with the black, velvety sky quickly filling with stars as we left the city and began our long journey. I’m sure we heard each of today’s most popular hits at least ten times each. We got to know new people in our vans, and of course catch up on all of the sleep we missed last night. With frequent stops and continuous snacking, the trip seemed to pass fairly quickly. We arrived at Thompson around 2:00 in the afternoon and spent until 4:00 exploring the streets and playing in the ice and snow around the railway tracks. Finally, we boarded our train, pulled out our blankets and had some much –appreciated pizza. There was much laughing and talking to be heard throughout the train. The landscape rolled by, mostly slowly, but always elegantly, the snow untouched and forever falling. Reluctantly, we fell asleep and waited impatiently for morning when new adventures would arise.

October 29, 2015

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Lexi Mantilla The Park School of Baltimore ‘19

Today was a long day for Park School students. We had to get to school by 3:30 am. Our first flight was to Toronto. From Toronto we took another plane to Winnipeg. After we arrived in Winnipeg, we went to the zoo, where we met the students from Kelvin High School, two of the Canadian Junior Rangers, and Dr. Jane Waterman, a mammologist who studies polar bears and squirrels. We also practiced the protocol for taking pictures of the bears. After out trip to the zoo, we had lunch at Kelvin. As we waited for dinner to be served we did fun activities like starting to make mittens. Although it is the first day, I have already met a lot of great people and I’m excited to get to know them better. Everyone is so welcoming and fun to be around. We have another long day tomorrow, but we’ll be with our friends, so I’m excited.