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Arctic Link With Leicester Schools

Dr Natalie Draper, from the University’s Radio and Space Plasma Physics group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Arctic Link With Leicester Schools

Expedition seeks funding for project with science link to Leicester schools

If you have caught sight of a figure hauling tyres around Victoria Park over the past 12 months, you could be forgiven for thinking it was some curious form of penance or a particularly laborious way to keep fit.

In fact it is one of the ways a University of Leicester Post Doctoral Research Assistant has been training for an expedition – 21 days in the Arctic, undertaking a polar bear survey, gathering pictures and data on auroral observations, the monitoring of ultraviolet radiation levels, and low temperature profiling.

Sadly, Dr Natalie Draper, from the University’s Radio and Space Plasma Physics group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is now unable to go on the expedition itself but will continue to be closely involved with local schools who are following the project.

The three-week expedition, which will take place from the end of March, is run by the Ice Warrior organization (www.ice-warrior.com). The expedition team is formed of seven novice volunteers, chosen following rigorous selection weekends, and an experienced leader.

Natalie explained:

“The Arctic expedition will be a route of 270 kilometres and will take place in the south eastern region of Svalbard. The team will be pulling all they need with them in sledges, including food, fuel and tents.

“It will be the culmination of a year's hard training, including eight weekends at various locations in the UK, three weeks in the high Canadian Arctic at Resolute Bay, and a rigorous week in Norway, including first aid scenarios, polar bear drills and cold water immersion.”

The physics data that the expedition will be gathering forms part of a collaborative project with local Leicester schools. Funding has been secured from the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) to buy a number of instruments to provide data to local schools.

The Leicestershire schools involved are Bushloe High School, Wigston Magna and Kestrels' Field Primary School, Hamilton. Natalie will be visiting these schools as part of ongoing "Outreach" work to promote science in schools, and will be the link between these schools and the scientific readings to be taken on expedition.

It is hoped that the unusual nature of the undertaking will interest the schoolchildren in science, as well as encourage more girls to explore scientific careers.

The expedition is still seeking sponsorship from both individuals and local businesses. There are also opportunities for local businesses to advertise their logo on the team’s arctic clothing, which will be extensively photographed during the expedition.

For more details contact Dr Natalie Draper, email ncd8@ion.le.ac.uk, telephone 0116 252 3648, or look at the Ice Warrior website www.ice-warrior.com.

Notes to Editors:

Further information is available from Dr Natalie Draper, Post Doctoral Research Assistant, Radio and Space Plasma Physics, University of Leicester, tel 0116 252 3648, email ncd8@ion.le.ac.uk

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