UO Outreach Polar Project

ICE SKATING PICEUGENE, Ore. — More than 200 hundred seventh graders from Hamlin Middle School were slipping and sliding all over the ice Friday at the Rink Exchange in Eugene.

It was for the polar challenge, an outreach event to spark interest in science, technology, engineering, and math. Students studied about how arctic animals keep traction in ice then they built their own shoes out of sponges, dish scrubbers, and other materials.

U of O physics and chemistry grad students were also on hand to help run the obstacle courses. Teachers say the kids have learned skills they can use outside of the classroom.

“Yesterday, a kid said to me, ‘Ms. Butler, last night I watched the olympic bobsled team because I wanted to see what was on their shoes as they were pushing the bobsleds. I was curious to know what gave them traction,'” says Jen Butler, a teacher from Hamlin Middle School. “So, I think what we were doing in class carried over to their real life.”

Students from Shasta Middle School and Cascade Middle School are doing the Polar Challenge next month.

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