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Polar Palooza

I found myself mingling with kids and their parents, a smattering of friends and one six-foot-tall penguin at the American Museum of Natural History last Saturday. I showed clips from our new, high-def Antarctica film (“Terra Antarctica, Re-Discovering the Seventh Continent”) most of which we shot a year ago, during the course of three months traveling along the Peninsula by sea kayak, sailboat, foot and small plane. It was the first time I’d shown the clips in public and I snuck to the back of the room myself to see them on the big screen. So far … so good. The hour-long film will be finished next month, will start showing at festivals around the world soon after and on television hopefully in the fall.

During the course of AMNH’s “Polar Weekend” I learned a lot myself, particularly about the Polar Palooza project. Supported by the National Science Foundation and NASA’s Science Mission, with money from Apple, ASTC and science and natural history museum’s across the country it’s the hippest way I’ve seen yet to try and educate people, particularly kids, about the cold regions.

Dependent on ice researchers, geologists, oceanographers, climate scientists, biologists and Arctic residents the goal – via pod casts, blogs, vlogs and more – is to provide the simplest info about the poles (“Why do penguins live down South and polar bears only up North?”) for a wide audience. It’s even got it’s own rap song about climate change, which has to be a first.

As for the six-foot-tall penguin, I buddied up to him enough to query whether he was Adelie or Gentoo and all I got was a shoulder shrug, not a squawk out of him … very unusual for a penguin of any species.

Photo, Anne Sparkman