26 March, 1999

March 26, 1999

Hi from Punta Arenas! I had a really great day today. It started off with a solo excursion into town, so that I could make reservations for the tour to the penguin colony. Afterwards, I walked around town for quite a while . . . taking pictures, buying goodies, and trying to find some souvenirs. I returned to the ship for lunch, and then went back to town for a little while. Our trip to the Magellanic penguin colony started at 4:00. We piled into a van, and rode for about 90 minutes in order to reach the colony. We ended up north of Punta Arenas, but on a body of water that is still referred to as the Strait of Magellan (the "strait" is actually a series of waterways connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans . . . our ship just traveled through the widest part of the strait). On the way, we saw some rheas on the side of the road. Rheas are large birds that look similar to ostriches. We also saw some very small foxes that were really cute.

The penguins live in burrows, as I explained in yesterday's journal. There was a trail that you could follow that went past hundreds and hundreds of these burrows. Throughout most of the area, the penguins were either hiding inside or standing next to their own burrow. We had a great time trying to take the "perfect" pictures during the two hours that we walked amongst the penguins. There was also a lookout area over the water and we could see groups of penguins coming back from a day of fishing. In about two or three more weeks, the Magellanic penguins will be migrating north for the winter -- only to return to this same area next spring.

So, did you figure out the answer to yesterday's question, "Who's the last scientist that needs to be introduced?" It's me, Kim Giesting. I was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1961. During my sophomore year in high school, we moved to Freeport, Illinois, where I graduated in 1979. It was in high school that I first started to enjoy science. I have wanted to teach for as long as I can remember, but I chose to teach science as a result of my science classes at Freeport High School. I went to Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana, because the program for teachers at BSU was highly recommended. I graduated with my B.S. in Science Education in 1983, and I graduated with my M.A. in 1985 with a double major in Biology and Environmental Science.

I began teaching at Connersville High School in 1985, and I've taught there ever since. While at CHS, I met my husband Marvin, who teaches Chemistry and Physics. We were married in June of 1987. After teaching for a few years, I was asked to develop a course in Earth/Space Science. I took additional college classes to add Earth/Space Science to my license. Later, I ended up taking several summer workshops in some of the individual Earth/Space Science disciplines -- specifically in Meteorology, Astronomy, and Oceanography. It was after these workshops that I began teaching Astronomy and Oceanography at Connersville High School as one semester electives. Usually, I teach Astronomy, Oceanography, Earth/Space Science, and Environmental Science courses.

As most of you know, this is my second trip to Antarctica. Last year, I was one of five teachers selected from across the United States to parcticipate in a National Science Foundation program called Teachers Experiencing Antarctica and the Arctic (TEA). I was paired with Dr. John Anderson, of Rice University, for a six week expedition to Antarctica. The program paid for all of my expenses with Dr. Anderson, and it also paid my school for the cost of a substitute teacher. We were conducting similar research last year, but we remained in the Ross Sea area and didn't travel around to the Antarctica Peninsula. In addition to helping with the research, I also communicated with classrooms via email and sent back daily journals and digital pictures. Dr. Anderson was already planning a return trip to Antarctica when we left the continent last year. He invited me to parcticipate . . . and agreed to cover my expenses out of the money in his research grant!

Although the offer was generous, I would not have been able to miss two months of classroom teaching for a second year in a row. It was the result of a second award that things were able to work out for this year's return trip to Antarctica. I was selected as the 1998 Indiana Teacher of the Year. In addition, the Governor of Indiana signed a bill last year declaring that the Indiana Teacher of the Year has a one year sabbatical from the classroom. The options for that sabbatical include either attending a state university as a full-time student or working for the Indiana Department of Education. I chose the latter option, and my job as "Ambassador for Education" includes working with the State Science Coordinator and also giving speeches and presentations all over the state of Indiana. The Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Suellen Reed, and my colleagues at the Indiana Department of Education have allowed for my return to Antarctica with Dr. Anderson.

In addition, the Indiana Department of Education has encouraged me to speak to children in various schools about Antarctica and this expedition. Between August and January, I gave nearly 100 such presentations. Once I return home, I will continue doing this for the remainder of the school year. While here, I've answered over 300 email questions from students and others across the United States who have been following the daily journals and enjoying the digital pictures. This has been an exceptional opportunity, and I'm so glad that all of you have chosen to parcticipate. There's only one journal entry left. I'll write it after I return to Indiana, and it should be posted sometime on Sunday. Until then . . .

Kim Giesting

Latitude: 53 degrees 10 minutes South

Longitude: 70 degrees 54 minutes West

Here's one of Magellanic penguins that we saw today.

Here's a look inside the burrow of a Magellanic penguin. Can you see all of the white feathers inside the burrow?

This Magellanic penguin is sitting inside of its burrow.

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