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8 May, 1999

TEA Orientation Session in Arlington, Virginia USA

Question 1: Why am I standing by that flag in the picture on my main web page?

Greetings! I am writing my first journal entry from the National Science Foundation's headquarters in Virginia rather than from the lands at either pole. All twelve teachers chosen for the 1999-2000 season of the TEA program have traveled here for a four-day orientation session. It is one of our few opportunities to meet each other and all the folks that are involved with the program face-to-face.

Each of the new TEAs has been matched up with an experienced TEA, some of whom have been back from the ice for a matter of weeks. Their stories and pictures are truly inspiring; everyone wants to leave for Antarctica tomorrow! These experienced TEAs have been an invaluable resource--sharing their experiences, examples and advice for everything from research to the mechanics of living at the poles, and from preparation, record keeping and travel to integrating the TEA experience into the classroom.

During the orientation session, we also heard from research scientists who have worked with teachers in this program, from curriculum and program specialists who guided discussions on what impact we want the program to have and how to achieve it, as well as from various national science foundation personnel who explained some of the unique features of polar programs and the attendant responsibilities we would have as parcticipants.

We have spent time becoming familiar with the software and hardware we will use to connect to the outside world while we are at our remote field sites. I will write daily journal entries from the field and email them directly to the web site where they will be posted on the correct day automatically. At Palmer Station I will be able to send and receive email, but not 24 hours a day. There are specific windows of time when we can send out and receive messages.

Now back to Anchorage and the last month of this school year.

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