Teacher takes trip of a lifetime


Staff Writer


Minot High School-Central Campus biology teacher Joe Super took the trip of a lifetime this summer when he boarded The National Geographic Explorer and traveled in the Arctic.

“It is absolutely the coolest thing to go steaming through this ice,” he told a group of sophomores in his biology class on Friday during a presentation on the momentous trip.

The photo showed the ship plowing its way through the fjords in waters filled with chunks of ice.

Super is one of 14 teachers nationwide who were selected to receive Lindblad Expeditions National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellowships. The 12-day voyage began from the western coast of Iceland, across the Denmark Strait and round the southern tip of Greenland. While on board, Super and a teacher from Colorado taught the children of passengers. Super said the kids learned how to tie knots, charted the ship’s course and learned how the waters around Greenland affect waters all over the world.

Super also took time to do a lot of learning himself during the July 18-29 cruise.

Passengers on ship took expeditions to land, where they learned about such things as Viking history, the archaeology of the Inuits who live in Greenland and the geological history of Greenland, which has the oldest rocks in the world.

The passengers aboard the ship also had the opportunity to meet with some of the Inuit families who live in the tiny Greenlandic capital city of Nuuk, which has just 14,000 people. Super said four families hosted a dozen people from the ship at a time and talked about life in Greenland. Hunting of whales, seals, musk oxen and caribou is a major part of the lives of the citizens there. At the time Super visited, the local hunters were gearing up for the start of musk ox season in August.

Super said he would encourage any teacher to apply for next year’s expedition. He believes he was chosen because he has worked with National Geographic programs and institutes in the past. In 2010, the four teachers in Minot High’s biology department were chosen to participate in the Summer Geography Institute: Ocean in La Jolla, Calif., on the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Campus. The weeklong institute, sponsored by National Geographic Education and Oracle, exposed them to research-based teaching techniques and provided them with material to teach ocean science in their classrooms. Super also has presented at other National Geographic conferences.

Julia Koble, another biology teacher in the department, was a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow in 2011.

Super said he strives to teach his students in land-locked North Dakota about ocean science. It affects them more than they might think, said Super, since waters here flow into the Hudson Bay, which ultimately feeds into the Arctic as well as to the Atlantic Oceans.

Super said that oil also always develops from marine sources, in places where there used to be shallow, warm ocean waters. Millions of years ago, North Dakota had such a climate, said Super.

Super said the oil boom is just getting started in Greenland, where minerals have been discovered.

Super, a teacher for 15 years, has his students monitor the health of local waterways. His students also assist the North Dakota Game and Fish Department by monitoring dissolved oxygen fish kills under the ice in local rivers and lakes.

Super hopes to deliver a talk about his Arctic trip during the Norsk Hostfest and will also be presenting at Minot State University during the school year as part of its Northwest Art Lecture series and on the Ward County Bookmobile. He will also speak to the Golden Oaks PTA.

He will use what he learned on the expedition in this year’s biology classes, too.

Some 500 teachers applied for the fellowships, which are jointly sponsored by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic Expedition.