Digging thousands of meters into Earth’s core to examine what life was like 800 years ago on the Antarctic ice sheet is one of the many adventures of scientists in the history of paleoclimatology.

On March 31, Jo Muller, Ph.D., Florida Gulf Coast University’s department of marine and Earth science chair, collaborated with the University of Florida Scientist in Every Florida School in an online discussion with high school students in Alachua County. This brought some excitement to students’ newly remote learning experience.

SEFS has expanded virtual scientist visits to schools throughout Florida as a result of the pandemic and is collaborating with partners from across the state like FGCU to create educational, fun and efficient virtual learning opportunities for K-12 students. The program is orchestrating various resources for teachers to use as they adjust to this shift, including virtual field trips (housed on the SEFS website), curated by Jen Jones, Ph.D. and her staff at FGCU.

Muller shared her story as a paleoclimatologist from Australia, with 10th-grade pre-AICE (Advanced International Certificate of Education) biology students, mind-boggling them as they learned how the air from millions of years ago can be observed through tiny air pockets in our planet’s glaciers.

Students were able to get an inside look into the journey and life of a scientist and learn what that experience entails. Images and graphs from trees, coral and ice cores, taught students how they can be used to examine what past climate conditions were like on our planet during certain periods.

Muller specifically studies paleotempestology, the study of past hurricanes using geological proxies, or She was able to show students how sediment cores can tell us when storms occurred and help us understand their impacts. Muller provided a 1000-year-old record of storms in Florida that she used to calculate storms per century and then compare to other records around the world.

She mentioned how important the societal impacts of these studies are, especially since we live in Florida where hurricanes occur often. Muller further explained how studying past storms, surface temperatures, population, and climate change tell us more about how we can prepare for the financial damages of future hurricanes.

Students seem to be enjoying and embracing the adjustment, as it brings a change to their routine and allows them to learn in new ways.

For more information or help bringing scientists into your classroom, please contact the SEFS team or visit us at Scientist in Every Florida School.