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Fedora/Fez-powered International Polar Year Magazine Focuses on Science and Literacy

Columbus, Ohio Blockbuster movies and even soft drink commercials have made our planet’s polar regions and their inhabitants popular culture superstars. At the same time many people have either been confronted with what they believe to be climate change weather events, or find themselves wondering about how melting polar ice sheets and rising ocean temperatures might affect their lives in the future. Despite this onslaught of data, scientific discovery, drama and speculation, misconceptions about the Polar polar regions and their importance abound.
As attention continues to turn to polar environments, a coalition of specialists from science, literacy and educational organizations nationwide is pleased to announce the launch of Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears,NSDL Annotation an online professional development magazine for elementary teachers. Using content-rich web sites, interactive videos, animations, articles written specifically for grades K-2 and 3-5 that are available in text-only versions as well as in printable, fold-able book versions, photographic collections that highlight polar beauty and mystery, and even a poetry lesson plan that features work contributed by elementary school students in Anchorage, Alaska, the magazine aims to develop teacher content knowledge about the Arctic and Antarctica to enable teaching of polar science concepts in already-crowded curricula. By integrating inquiry-based science with literacy teaching developers aim to increase students’ science knowledge, academic language, reading comprehension, and written and oral discourse abilities.
Jessica Fries-Gaither, elementary resource specialist and project director for Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears notes, “As a former elementary teacher in Alaska, I understand the difficulty of finding time for quality science instruction. Yet in the face of issues such as global climate change and dramatically changing Polar Regions, it is essential that science, specifically polar science, is included. We are particularly pleased to offer this new online magazine that transfers current polar research and best practices in science and literacy instruction to classrooms nationwide.”
Twenty thematic issues of the online magazine are being generated directly from the Fedora/Fez-based OnRamp repository using the OnFire extension to send content to the Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears target web siteNSDL Annotation.
Beyond Penguins and Polar BearsNSDL Annotation is funded by the National Science Foundation Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL). Kimberly Lightle, Principal Investigator for the NSDL Middle School Portal developed by The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology and also Principal Investigator for the Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears magazine coordinates a team of collaborators including an interdisciplinary team from Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology; the Ohio Resource Center for Mathematics, Science, and Reading; the Byrd Polar Research Center; The Columbus Center for Science and Industry; the Upper Arlington Public Library; and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). Content and education specialists are creating content as well as adapting and contextualizing existing content from NSDL. NSDL is adapting Fedora-based tools to facilitate editorial workflow, dissemination and promotion of the magazine. The Evaluation and Assessment Center at Miami University in Oxford, OH is conducting ongoing project evaluation including teacher focus groups and usability testing that will inform iterative design going forward.