Over the recent February break, a group of twenty-three science students comprised of mainly juniors and seniors at Ridgewood High School visited Iceland on a STEM trip. Physics teachers Ms. Shah and Mr. Mitchell chaperoned the trip, along with Mr. Yannone and Mr. Pizzuto.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students were able to explore Iceland’s unique geological features, from volcanoes to glaciers to tectonic plate activity, in order to investigate their relationship to each other and their impact on the island. They also learned about alternative energy sources and Icelandic techniques for capturing geothermal steam for heat and power. In addition, they discovered what layers of glacial ice can tell us about changes in climate and the environment. Overall, the goal of the trip was to extend their knowledge from the classroom through visiting different sites.
The group left on February 14th and came back on February 19th. They spent three days in Hwolsvollur and another in Reykjavik. In a short five days, the group was able to visit many different attractions. This included some amazing sites: the Reykjanesviti lighthouse, Gunnuhver mud pools, the Seljalandsfoss and Skogarfoss waterfalls, the Hraunfossar and Barnafossar waterfalls and the Deildartunguhver hot spring and the massive Dyrholaey stone arch.
In terms of deepening their scientific knowledge, the group visited the state of the art Lava Center, Reykjanes Power Plant, the Hellisheidi Power Station, and the Northern Lights. One may assume that Iceland is frigid during this time of the year; however, one student said that the weather was similar to Ridgewood, but with higher wind chill as the wind ranged from 25-40 mph each day.
Students enjoyed their time in Iceland and had a lot to say about their experiences. When asked about her favorite part of the trip, junior Sarah Gnall said: “My favorite part of the trip was being able to go inside a glacier. It really gave me perspective of how serious climate change is. Also just going inside of a literal mountain and going 45 meters below where you entered and see all the ice snow and ash lines from volcanic eruptions was insane.”
Another junior commented on their favorite part about their experience. “The highlight of the trip for me was the hot springs. It was dope being outside in the freezing Iceland weather while being in a hot pool.” Junior Ethan Sterling also viewed the Blue Lagoon as the highlight of his trip. “It was cool to finally go to the hot springs after the trip. Also, I’ve seen a lot of photos online so it was cool to finally experience it in real life.
This trip was similar to the Switzerland trip last year. The students on the Iceland trip had an amazing experience. If you want to explore the world while developing a deeper understanding of science, make sure to check in next year to see where the STEM trip will take place!
Graphic: Sarah Gnall