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Austin teacher heading to the Arctic for important research on thawing permafrost

David Walker is one of 12 teachers selected from across the country and will join a team of scientists to analyze the effects of thawing permafrost.

AUSTIN, Texas — One Austin teacher is trading in the Texas heat this summer for the cold – ice cold. He's doing important research in the Arctic Circle. 

David Walker is just one of 12 teachers selected through a nationwide search to participate in a program called PolarTREC, an educational research experience where K-12 teachers take part in polar research with scientists as a way to improve science education. 

He's just one of 12 teachers selected from across the country. 

Walker said he'll join a team of three scientists to be a part of research that analyzes the process of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere due to thawing permafrost. The research aims to create better climate models for researchers and show why the process is hurting the environment. 

While Walker said he's excited for the opportunity, he's also excited to be able to teach his students something new. 

Credit: David Walker
David Walker with now-former students

"Every day in a teaching career is different," said Walker. "The students here are really the main reason why I teach.

Walker teaches at LASA, the Liberal Arts and Science Academy in Northeast Austin. He's been there for about a decade now.

“I have a really blessing here in that the students at LASA High School come into my classroom engaged, motivated to learn about science," said Walker.

Credit: David Walker
High School teacher David Walker in Antarctica with National Geographic's Grosvenor Teacher Fellows program.

But this isn't the first time he's done something like this. He's spent time with National Geographic as a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow.

He's also embarked on a research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico for a Teacher at Sea program with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"These organizations are all amazing in that they give teachers these types of opportunities," said Walker.

Credit: David Walker
David Walker on a on a research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico for a Teacher at Sea program with NOAA.

But, this time around, he's excited to just get started and have some interesting content for future students. 

"It's very important to correctly educate students in this generation about this because they're going to be in charge of our planet in the future," said Walker. 

Walker will be gone all of June. While in the field, he will share his experiences with the public through online journals, message boards, real-time video presentations with field research scientists, and online learning resources. You can follow his journey can here.


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