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Arctic Blast 2001

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Online Classroom Dogsled Expedition

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"Weekly Topic & News" is posted here every Monday by 7 a.m. CST

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"The Weekly Topic and News" merges the expedition, educational goals, and the needs of teachers. It is the most important component of your online classroom expedition.

Start each week with an in-depth look at this page.

The topic of the week is emphasized with clearly presented, facts and information supplementing each unit of the curriculum package.

Information is also provided to help make real world connections, investigate personal values and discuss current issues.

Completing the circle, the weekly topic will also be highlighted from the Arctic Blast explorers.

Using the sights, sounds, and wilderness perspectives of the arctic facilitate meaningful and energized classes.

The Weekly Topic and News integrates the nationally accredited, K through 12, Nunavut curriculum package and the weekly reports from the expedition. This is where the adventure of collaborative learning really begins.

WEEK 15:
Arctic Dreams

In his book Reflections from the North Country Sigurd Olson writes, “When a dream is gone, hope is gone, and life can become drab and without purpose. As long as a dream is ahead, there is always something to look forward to.” His thoughts mirror the old expression, “do not take from any person his or her dream.”

Dreams come in many different shapes and sizes. Getting rich, having a family, passing a test in school are all examples of what many people aspire to in their lives. The allure of arctic exploration has been the dream of some as well. Few people (other than the Inuit) had actually traveled to the frozen landscapes of the arctic, even less survived their journeys. For whatever reasons, traveling through the arctic captured and held the imagination so few.

Scottish explorer John Ross discovered the Magnetic North Pole in 1845. The mysterious disappearance of English explorer John Franklin's expedition in 1878-79 to the Northwest Passage stimulated further exploration and in 1893-96 Swedish navigator Nils Nordensköld was the first European to discover the Northeast Passage. Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen's ship the Fram drifted across the Arctic while locked in the ice, proving that no Arctic continent existed. Another Norweigan explorer, Roald Amundsen sailed through the Northwest Passage a little after that. US explorers Robert Peary, Matt Henson, and four Inuit reached the North Pole on April 2nd, 1909. In 1926, US explorers Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett flew to the Pole. Later that year, Italian aviator Umberto Nobile and Amundsen crossed the Pole (Spitzbergen–Alaska) in the airship Norge. The US submarine Nautilus crossed the Pole beneath the ice in 1958. Wally Herbert of the British Transarctic Expedition crossed the Arctic Ocean by dog sled in 1969. It wasn’t until 1977 that the Soviet icebreaker Arktika made the first surface voyage to the Pole. Will Steger and Paul Schurke lead an eight person team to the North Pole without support in 1986. Canadian and Soviet skiers attempted the first overland crossing from the USSR to Canada via the Pole in 1988.

It is easy to see that the world has been fascinated with Arctic exploration. At the end of the 1800's and the beginning of the 1900's, the Arctic was viewed as the last great unknown. With that in mind, many people set out in boats, dogsleds, and on foot. They were trying to gain recognition.

In the High Arctic, (the Arctic islands north of the main Canadian coastline), Europeans believed there was a Northwest Passage across North America to the Pacific and Orient. The search for this passage, however, was hindered by treacherous ice that crushed sailing ships, stranded sailors, and left them lost in an unknown land, poorly equipped with little knowledge and few skills essential for survival. Early sailors perished because of an ignorance about the severity of the cold climate, and expeditions were improperly equipped to spend any length of time in the Arctic.

Arctic explorers learned from the misfortunes of early explorers, and also learned survival skills from the Inuit. The first European explorers came into contact with various Inuit groups but the period of contact was brief. There was no lasting influence or abrupt change to the traditional way of life of the Inuit . Initial contact was friendly although there were a few violent exceptions as in the case of the explorer Martin Frobisher in which misunderstanding and suspicion led to gunfire and dead men.

The first Arctic explorers, of course, were the Inuit themselves. Much later, explorers from European countries began to sail into the icy waters of the Arctic. It is easy to see that the world has been fascinated with Arcitic exploration. Over time, the Arctic has been the dream of many.
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