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Students Stand Atop Glacier Through Skype

Eyjafjallajökull is the most complex name that you may just recognize. If it does ring a bell, that’s because it’s the ice-capped volcano that erupted in Iceland in 2010, shutting down air traffic across Europe and stranding millions of passengers worldwide.  

Students from the US and UK recently visited the glacier atop the infamous volcano and saw, with their own eyes, how the ice is rapidly retreating. In addition to climbing the glacier in a super jeep, they had the opportunity to enter an ice cave and cross powerful glacial rivers. They were able to witness the glacier via Skype and never actually set foot outside of their classrooms in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, and Willard, Ohio.

Glacier 1

 Check out one of the Skype video messages from their experience: 

 Their guide was Pall A. Davidsson, the founder of Vox Naturae, which is an Icelandic NGO and Skype in the classroom (SITC) partner that works to raise awareness about the importance of global snow and ice. Armed with Skype on his Nokia Lumia smartphone and Lenovo laptop, Davidsson hosted the Walk on a Disappearing glacier in Iceland via Skype class as part of SITC’s Exploring Oceans, a month-long celebration of oceans that took place late last year. 

On the journey up the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, Davidsson sent three Skype video messages to the students that showcased different locations where the ice is retreating. The students watched the video messages and then had a live Skype video call with Davidsson and his driver from the jeep tour company Iceland Rovers from atop the glacier.

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While the top of a glacier is not the obvious location for an Exploring Oceans-themed class, students learned that ice masses, in fact, hold most of the world’s fresh water reserves and are now melting into the oceans at an unprecedented rate in human history. The changes are alarming, according to current predictions Iceland will be without ice in only 150 – 200 years! Davidsson explained to the students how these changes to glaciers are affecting coastlines, sea life, and ocean currents and why the impacts should be of a concern to all of us – no matter where we live.

 “This was an amazing experience for the students, one which they will never forget,” says Geography and Sociology teacher Jenna Wilkinson at Walbottle Campus in Newcastle upon Tyne. The lesson was timely for her students as they had already been studying arctic climates and were busy preparing for exams. 

glacier 2

Moving forward, Vox Naturae is next year starting a global awareness raising and education campaign called Celebrating Glaciers and developing an environmental curriculum that will soon be available on Skype in the classroom.

And in keeping with the theme of glacial explorations and in celebration of Earth Month, we also have an Arctic research expedition coming up on SITC called Frozen Oceans – check it out. 

Get involved with Skype in the classroom and find out how your students can engage with exciting lessons and experiences around the world.  

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