Cool Pole Puzzles Go Hot!

By means of the "Puzzel je warm...experimenteer je koud" (project (warm up with puzzles... cool down with experiments), the International Polar Foundation took on the introduction of Polar Regions and Climate Change to schoolchildren and their tutors. The pole puzzle interactions were hosted at Hidrodoe, the water do-centre in Herentals, on April 17th and 24th 2007, and later on in Brussels, during the 3-day national science event WetenschapsExpoSciences at Heyzel.

About 200 participants, comprising of children aged 6 through 15 and of their mentors, were presented, through puzzles and experiments, the contrasting geography, fauna and flora of the Poles and the effects that global warming will induce by melting polar ice caps.

During each 45-minute session, an introduction supported by a loop of Arctic and Antarctic images was given in order to 'prepare' the children for the puzzle and experiment phase. Each session then ended with a short discussion on the role of women in science and was closed by a survey allowing the children to give their impressions on the project. The reactions issued by the participants were overall very good: "cool!", "interesting!", "instructive!", ... These echoes were positive enough to justify further promotion of the puzzle and experiments.

Another positive outcome is that these events have paved the way to establishing further cooperation frameworks with new potential partners. The Pole Puzzles events could not have been possible without the kind support of the "Wetenschap maakt knap", a Flemish Belgian Government program aiming to raise public awareness on science and technology.

A picture gallery of these events is posted on the dedicated website, along with an educational dossier on the puzzles, suggested polar experiments and several testimonies from women in polar sciences.