A Blast From The Past

The following post was written by 2014 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Demetria Scott during her expedition to the Arctic. The Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program is a professional development opportunity made possible by a partnership between Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic Education. 

Expedition Location: Arctic Svalbard, Norway

We traversed the Arctic desert around Palanderbukta fjord. When you envision the desert, you think hot, dry, and arid. In contrast, the Arctic desert is frigid and icy, yet teeming with life trying to eke out an existence. The hills were steep and rocky, which made climbing challenging at times, but provided a great physical workout along with breathtaking scenery. We discovered organisms such as lichen and my favorite—purple saxifrage.

Ammonoids first appeared about 400 million years ago. They went extinct with the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago. Photograph by Julia Sheldon.

The most exciting part of the walk was when one of our youngest explorers said she had found an ammonite. I’m sure my eyes were as big as quarters when I rushed over to see her discovery, which actually was an authentic ammonite.

This was so incredible to me because at the beginning of each school year, I start with a geology unit and we talk about fossils. I always show my students pictures of ammonites, but they never get to hold one. This year when I mention fossils, they will get to see their teacher holding an authentic ammonite. Too bad I couldn’t bring it back for them to touch, but at least I know it will be there in the Arctic desert for future explorers to find and enjoy.

After our long hike, the group took the opportunity to belly slide on a snowy slope—instigated by the children on our trip but enjoyed by all ages. This was the perfect end to an unforgettable day, or so I thought. Back on the ship, at the end of dinner we had reached 80° N latitude, just 10 degrees of latitude and 600 nautical miles from the North Pole! Then it hit me that this is the farthest north I have ever been and probably will ever go in my life. Truly an amazing day full of once-in-a lifetime experiences.

Explore activities, ideas and teaching supplements about fossils on our website at NatGeoEd.org

Collection: Fossils

Encyclopedic Entry: Fossil. Find out what is, and isn’t, a fossil!

Activity (30 min) for Grades 3-5, Ages 8-11: Making Fossil Impressions

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