3 April, 2002
Nestled 3 miles above the Arctic Circle lies the native village of Selawik. The village sits surrounded by rivers and lakes which now remains frozen but in the summer is running with water and brings life. Fish is plentiful here and students tell
stories of large sheefish that are caught during the summer and winter. During the winter, holes are dug through the ice to catch the fish. There are tales of 90 sheefish caught in a single day. The sizes vary but can be big enough for an entire man's arm to fit inside of the fish. Fishing; an ancient pastime of the native's sustenance living. A pastime that many natives still rely heavily upon.
Selawik is a large native village of approximately 1000 people. The school is a state- of-the-art school and serves 270 children grades K-12. The school day changed for the students today as we rolled in on our snowmachines. Since the village is small, our arrival is quite a show. We appear as the traveling circus with all of our machines and sleds. The whole village gapes at us with awe and curiosity. Our goal was to teach the students at Selawik school about snow and cold science. We accomplished this today by speaking to several grade levels about their world of snow. Mark Proch's High School Earth Science class has been collecting our weather data over the last several months. We are very grateful for their diligent work in recording the data. They turned over their data book to us and it will be used to help us understand the weather patterns in the Arctic. School is still school above the Arctic circle.
The subjects that are taught at Selawik school are the same subjects that any American school would teach. However, the cold brings a different life for the students.
The water and septic systems in the remote villages have to be cleverly designed. Permafrost, which is frozen ground, lies beneath the tundra. In order to get fresh water to the houses and school, the pipes must be placed above the ground. The pipes are out of a metal material called Bond Strand. Inside of this pipe is sprayed foam that surrounds the plastic pipe that has heat tape around it. If the temperature drops below a certain point, the heat tape will kick on and begin insulating the pipes. This is the only way to ensure that the water is not frozen. The same system is used for the sewage system. This water system required much engineering ingenuity to be developed and applied. It's quite amazing and is a constant reminder that even in a nice, luxurious school, that life is difficult in the Arctic.
Travel by snowmachines is the common form of winter transportation. It is also dangerous and must be practiced with caution. There is a trail from Buckland to Selawik that is often traveled. However, weather conditions can change dramatically and instaneously. The trail is marked with tripod markers that have reflective tape on them. The reflective tape is placed on them in case of a white-out from a blizzard or ice fog such as we experienced on our trip into Selawik. People also travel during the night on the trail so the reflective tape illuminates the way.
SO WHERE IS MRS. CHEUVRONT??? LET'S PLOT!!!! In Selawik!!!!
Latitude: 66.60473 degrees North Longitude: 160.01095 degrees West
After our great visit with the school children, we are nestled snugly at the school. Once again, we have been supplied with clean showers and a warm place to sleep.
Temp max: -10 degrees Celsius
Temp min: -18 degrees Celsius
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