Julie Schneider ('99)
School teacher and arctic explorer
How do you take second graders to the harsh, minus 40-degree environment of the Arctic's edge? Julie Schneider found a way that changed her life, along with the lives of her students. Through the magic of technology, Schneider packed her students into her computer and took them along on her trek to Churchill, Manitoba, where she joined a team studying climate change. During the 11-day trip, part of Earthwatch's Live from the Field program, Schneider helped gather data for the scientific mission that measures and documents changes in the arctic permafrost and the effects of climate change on plants and animals. Throughout the expedition, Schneider shared her experiences with her class at K. W. Barrett Elementary School in Arlington, Va., through a daily blog and video conferences. Schneider's students viewed their teacher building and spending the night in an igloo, counting evergreen needles, riding dog sleds and a qamatuk (a box on a bobsled pulled by a snowmobile) and digging snow pits. She brought students into her living quarters at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre and out onto the frozen tundra, giving them the chance to see science in action. The experience stirred both Schneider's and her students' interest in science — an interest she will continue to feed in her classroom. It's how Julie Schneider is changing her world — one student at a time.
"I think by seeing me work as a scientist for a few days, it helped them realize they have so many opportunities — they can grow up and do anything."