NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — A Narragansett High School sophomore has left the sweltering summer heat behind for a two-week journey to explore the eastern Canadian Arctic and Western Greenland.
Sydney Van Slyke joins 130 students from around the world as part of the Students on Ice 2019 Arctic Exploration.
The students will take daily immersion trips in Zodiac boats and study plant and animal life in the Arctic and how they survive in the cold weather, according to the high school.
They will learn about the Arctic through land and ship-based programming led by “scientists, elders, artists, historians and visionary leaders,” according to studentsonice.com.
Van Slyke said she’s looking forward to learning more about Native American culture and experiencing a different way of living. She’s always been interested in science research, she said.
Following an official launch event that took place Monday in Ottawa, Van Slyke and the expedition team planned to fly to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland and set sail up the western coast of Greenland, cross the Davis Strait and through the Canadian High Arctic, ending in Resolute and returning to Ottawa on Aug. 7.
They’re also posting daily updates through blog posts, photos and videos on the Students on Ice website and on social media with #SOIArctic2019.
The expeditions allow students to explore the plant and animal life now visible while also calling attention to global climate change issues and how to better sustain life.
Van Slyke applied earlier this year to be one of the few students who are chosen for the prestigious annual journey, which began in Canada. In addition to being chosen to represent Narragansett High School, she also received a full scholarship to attend from the Beatrice Snyder Foundation, based in New York City.
Narragansett High School has been involved with Students on Ice explorations before.
Science teacher Kathy Couchon embarked on her own Arctic expedition in 2004, traveling on a Swedish ice-breaker in the middle of the Arctic for six weeks. There, they drilled into the ocean floor to learn more about the current state of the ocean, the glaciers and global warming.
Couchon later attended a conference related to the expedition and learned about the unique opportunity Students on Ice gives to students. She brought the information and the application process back to the district. Since then, three students have traveled through the program, with Van Slyke becoming the fourth.