Iceland, that island country in the North Atlantic near the Arctic Circle, has long been a pioneer in the battle against global warming. Think "ice," "rising temps," and "melting" and you get the picture. Paige Diamond, 16 and a junior at Morristown High School's Health and Medical Science Academy, spent a chunk of her summer 2007 break putting her love for science to the test--during a trip to Iceland. In a personal essay, Paige shares with njnextstop.org how she found her groove atop a glacier:
Science has always brought pleasure to my life because of the challenges it presents. Science is a field that offers diverse opportunities, which generate continued learning throughout life.
As a student at Morristown High School, I am part of a unique science academy. The program has allowed me to focus and dedicate my course of study in the sciences, and to consider a future career as a medical scientist. This type of dream career would enable me to find medical cures, travel the world and give back to a community that has already given me so much.
This July, I got an amazing glimpse at the great places science can take me. I joined an expedition team that flew to Iceland to conduct a research investigation written by my science teacher, Erin Colfax. Throughout the entire school year, my teacher and I researched, planned and prepared for what would be, for me, the expedition of a lifetime. Once in Iceland, we collaborated with fellow investigators who were part of a tour of Southern Iceland. On our 10-day trek, we recorded meteorological and sensory data that will ultimately be used by some of my fellow students at Morristown High School to write scientific poetry.
Our research in Iceland was thrilling. We started out in Reykjavik, the country's capital, for the first two days and then moved along the south coast to Kirkjubaejarklaustur, and Skalholt, and then finished back in Reykjavik. While traveling around Iceland, our team used different instruments to collect meteorological data. We wore HOBO pendants around our necks to automatically collect light and air temperature data every hour. We also carried Onset sensors to collect data on barometric pressure, relative humidity, temperature and dew point.
Collecting sensory data (i.e., taste, smell, sight, sound and touch) was a little more challenging. Our team always carried sample collection bags around in order to easily gather and save different tactiles and smells. Many investigators also carried tape recorders to capture sounds unique to Iceland. We sampled the sense of taste by bringing home packaged foods purchased in Icelandic grocery stores, and we shot many pictures to help document our memories of the expedition. While data collection was our mission, we also had a chance to explore Iceland's amazing landscape. We saw many beautiful waterfalls, hot springs and geysers. Our team took hikes around Iceland's National Parks, and even got to hike on top of a glacier. We went whitewater rafting, whale watching and horseback riding with Icelandic horses.
Now for a little science lesson. Iceland is blessed with a number of unique environmental qualities. The country is located directly over a hot spot and is split in half by the convergence of two continental plates, the North American plate and the Eurasian plate. Every year the country grows at an average of three to four centimeters as the plates move further and further apart. Iceland is home to possibly the world's greatest hot spring and many varieties of geysers and pools that are heated geothermally, or by the natural heat of the earth. Geothermal power plants pump underground water throughout the entire country providing its residents with all their necessary energy, hot water and electricity.
My expedition to Iceland was very simply a dream come true--and it has helped convince me even more of the direction my life should take after high school. Exposure is the key to finding your passion. Being so young and experiencing so much has given me a chance to find my groove in life. I can clearly envision where I want to be in 5, 10, 50 years. I have set life goals to make my dreams a reality and to continue to develop my passions, which include science, athletics and the arts.
But for now, it is my duty to complete the work I started in Iceland and prepare myself for a challenging year of further research, analysis and presentation. I can't wait to share what I've learned with everyone.