Kids Can – Issue #4
What Did You Do in School Today?
You probably did a little science, a little history – maybe some geography.
Sometimes school can feel like the same old thing – day after day. Imagine how you would feel if your teacher suddenly announced you would be going out in a boat – coming face to face with caribou?
Students of Noatak and White Mountain high schools in northwestern Alaska were given the opportunity to get out of the classroom and into the icy waters of the Kobuk River. They were invited to help biologists of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game with their caribou collaring project.
What’s a caribou collaring project? Well, scientists attach radio or satellite collars to caribou so they can track the movement of the herd. They also take blood samples from caribou so they can monitor their health.
Caribou cross the Kobuk River heading south on their way to their wintering grounds. All biologists would have to do is grab the caribou in the water, hold them still for a few minutes, take a blood sample and attach a collar. How difficult could it be?
The project didn’t end with collaring the caribou. Some students went on to work with a scientist in the lab – trying to sequence the DNA in the blood they helped collect from the caribou.
The students also wrote articles about their experiences for local newspapers and online publications. They even wrote and self-published a book about their experiences. Pretty awesome!
Students and biologists work as a caribou collaring team © Alaska Dept. Fish & Game, photographer Sue Steinacher
Onion Portage is where thousands of caribou cross the Kobuk River © Alaska Dept. Fish & Game, photographer Sue Steinacher