Physettes Club goes on an arctic expedition

Stephanie Hays

I’m trying to connect them with real science. Not something that’s a simulator, not something that’s idealized, but something that is actually out in the physical environment . . . to figure out what is going on,” Physettes advisor Mark Buchli said.

Due to his successful and innovative teaching methods, Buchli was honored last spring with a $10,000 grant and is now trying to impart his knowledge upon the students in the Physettes club through their work on the Arctic ice sheet.

This year Physettes plans on analyzing how sea ice has melted in the North Pole. They are also examining how the planet has been gradually increasing in temperature, and how more or less ice will affect the rest of the climate.

The club takes ten degree segments of ice from the North Pole and analyzing the changes in it overtime, as well as land versus sea melting. This data comes from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and has been collected by satellite, airplanes and submarines.

While the group won’t physically be able to analyze the ice at the North Pole, they have an effective way of analyzing it in the classroom. The group is given extremely large amounts of data and goes through them to finds trends.

“They are going to be doing their own analysis on this data in order to validate or invalidate the predictions that they make,” Buchli said.

Physettes hope to find explanations on abnormalities and then present their data analyses to a committee called PSC (Polar Science Center) at the University of Washington, and hopefully learn what professional scientists think on the matter.

Students in Physettes are also involved in continually striving to make the world and Liberty a greener place. They also hope to promote STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) careers as well as gain scientific experiments.

“[In Physettes] We get to hangout and talk about science and have fun and plant trees and do some community service. I have a lot of fun talking to higher grades,” sophomore Jin Chen said.