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DCSM students have a cool trip to the U.S. National Ice Core Laboratory

By Lynne Marsala Basche; photo courtesy of DCS Montessori

Upper Elementary students at DCS Montessori (DCSM) took part in a chilly adventure in February. The fourth through sixth-grade classes visited the U.S. National Ice Core Laboratory (NICL) in Lakewood. The NICL is a facility for storing, curating and studying ice core samples from around the world.

As part of their renewable energy lesson, students were curious about how emission affects the environment and whether the greenhouse effect is real. The NICL looks for solutions to world climate issues by looking at the ancient ice core from various parts of the world. A -30 degree freezer stores the ice cores with the oldest core holding scientific evidence trapped more than 800,000 years ago. (Ice cores are cylinders of ice drilled out from large ice sheets or glaciers that can be from depths of more than two miles.)

“Last year, the students in my class debated about whether the overall rising temperature of the Earth was affected by the greenhouse effect or a part of the natural cycle,” said Castle Pines resident and lead teacher for the NICL field trip, Ryoko Fusatani. “We wanted to investigate this with the national level researchers. It takes about a year to reserve the field trip at the National Ice Core Lab.”

Students were in the freezer for approximately four minutes, and they were bundled up for the temperatures. Although, as Fusatani pointed out, some kids wear shorts and t-shirts all year in Colorado! In addition to the tour, there was an hour-long presentation. The group observed volcanic ash trapped inside of an ice sheet approximately 21,000 years ago.

“The scientists were wearing thick clothes and long thick boots while harvesting the ice cores in a frigid cold Antarctica! This is really cool but hard work,” said Castle Pines resident and fourth-year student Logan Chamberlain.



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