Now back at school, students from the Shanghai Caoyang Middle School have been sharing their experiences as the first Chinese student research group to visit the China-Iceland Joint Arctic Science Observatory during the summer vacation.
Zheng Qifeng, the school's vice principal, said the trip to Iceland was the result of its cooperation with the Shanghai-based Polar Research Center of China. Scientists from the center have given several lectures about the North Pole and related research to students while many students had visited the center and worked there as volunteers.
“We got the idea to bring students to the Arctic for a close study of it and launched preparations two years ago,” Zheng said. “We eventually chose to visit the China-Iceland Arctic Science Observatory over other polar stations due to conditions that are relatively favorable for students and teachers.”
During the past two years, several teachers of different disciplines worked together to teach students basic knowledge about Iceland and set up their own study goals, such as to study its geomorphology, vegetation and animals, as well as its social welfare system.
Finally, 16 students who had shown a great interest in environmental problems and a strong thirst for knowledge, along with three teachers, left Shanghai for an 11-day study trip.
Hu Zejun, director of the observatory, showed students around the research facility, which was set up by Rannis, the Icelandic Center for Research, and the Polar Research Institute of China in October last year, for them to see how it observed the northern lights, monitored the atmosphere, carried out glacier research and other studies. Scientists at the observatory held three talks, telling the students about the development of the Arctic Passage and future prospects, polar space weather monitoring and the need for Arctic expeditions.
Two of the students, Nie Junchen and Huan Jiayi, helped raise the flags of China and Iceland at the observatory for the first time.
The toughest part of the trip was when the students traveled to the Arctic Circle by boat, a trip which took three hours and left most of them feeling ill. After landing, they had to walk 2 kilometers in the hills to arrive at the circle.
“The process was painful, but when we saw the unique topographic features and animals, such as volcanoes and puffins, and tasted the glacier formed a thousand years ago, all the pain paid off,” said Xia Yihao, one of the students.
They collected six bottles of water samples at different sites and brought them back to the school to be tested in the science lab.