Last updated: July 5, 2023
Polar STEAM is open to citizens and permanent residents of the United States.
Participants must be 21 years of age or older. There is no upper age limit, however medical and dental care in remote field locations in the Arctic and Antarctic is limited and participants need to be physically capable of field work (see field deployment section below).
One of the goals of Polar STEAM is to broaden participation and engagement with polar research to new audiences and those traditionally underrepresented in polar sciences, therefore it is unlikely we will have repeat participants in the program. Applications from prior participants may be considered if the applicant can clearly demonstrate a novel approach or method that differs from their prior participation in the program.
STEAM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. It is a term commonly used in education and refers to an interdisciplinary approach that helps students expand their problem-solving and collaborative teamwork skills as they prepare to enter the workforce in an increasingly complex world. Polar STEAM invites participating educators, researchers, artists, and writers to engage the public by collaborating and employing principles of STEAM: curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, and cultural sensitivity.
Polar STEAM is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project run by an interdisciplinary team at Oregon State University (OSU). OSU was awarded a cooperative agreement with the NSF in September 2022 and will facilitate virtual and field deployments for participants annually.
The Polar STEAM Team is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. We center DEI in a myriad of ways including:
Note: Please see the relevant sections below for educators, researchers, and artists & writers, for further program-specific information.
Polar STEAM provides facilitated matching and mentorship for each annual cohort of educators, artists & writers, and researchers.
Professional Development curriculum is integrated into the Polar STEAM program for all participants. Mentorship is provided in learning about STEAM integrations and in co-creating educational resources or artistic works. Through learning from national experts and looking through an interdisciplinary lens, all participants can build upon their professional practice.
For all deploying participants, the following is provided:
Participants will receive the designation of Polar STEAM Fellow and become part of the Polar STEAM community.
The time commitment is approximately 8 – 10 hours of cohort-based training over the year plus collaborative work within your partnership (see virtual or field sections below).
There will be an annual cohort of participants, within which individual educators and researchers will be teamed up as collaborative partners. Educators will collaborate virtually and researchers may be in the field, conducting lab-based or data work, or monitoring their field work remotely. Polar STEAM will facilitate initial virtual meetings between participants and researchers to collaboratively develop the scope of their work. Professional Development will focus on using an integrated approach to science communication in the polar regions and exploring the key principles of STEAM: curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, and cultural sensitivity. As a culmination of their collaboration, the team will create and develop a new STEAM-focused educational resource.
Each virtual collaboration is unique and depends on the nature of the collaboration between the research and educator. During the collaboration period, the average time commitment is 4-8 hours per month, inclusive of the time for cohort-based training. In the application, educators can indicate their availability during this timeframe. and if selected, Polar STEAM will facilitate development of a mutually agreeable collaboration schedule.
The length of deployments depends on various factors. Typical deployments range from 2 – 6 weeks. Arctic deployments are typically between May – September. Antarctic deployments are typically between October – February with a possible option for early season (August – September).
No, applications are reviewed only after the deadline. Submitting in advance of the deadline is advantageous only to ensure that applicants can resolve any difficulties with the submission process.
For Educators and Artists & Writers, applications are reviewed by a panel selected from our Network of Experts. Applications are evaluated based on their ability to embody the principles and goals of Polar STEAM as well as the ability to reach and serve groups who are historically underrepresented in polar science. Many levels of professional experience are considered for educators, artists & writers, and researchers and the evaluation process is designed to be inclusive of professionals at various stages in their careers. Applications from artists & writers are further evaluated on the ability to support the proposed project logistically.
Researcher applications are reviewed by Polar STEAM staff. The application package and broader impact goals are evaluated to determine if they align with Polar STEAM’s objectives and program capabilities.
For Educators and Artists & Writers, the review, selection, and matching process with research teams takes approximately 1-3 months. Applicants who are selected as semi-finalists during this process will be contacted and invited to meet (virtually) with Polar STEAM staff and one or more research teams. Finalists will also be asked to provide references and may contact your supervisor.
Applicants who are not successful will receive an email indicating their application has not moved forward. Due to the volume of applications, Polar STEAM staff are unable to provide feedback to applicants. Applicants are encouraged to carefully read all program information, stay connected by registering for updates, and consider re-applying in future years. Collaborating researchers change year to year and an applicant’s proposal may be better matched in future years.
For Researchers, expect to hear from the Polar STEAM team within 1 – 2 weeks to discuss how your research and broader impacts goals align with the Polar STEAM program’s objectives and capabilities.
Yes. A letter of support will be required for finalists during the selection process. It is best to speak with your principal or supervisor before submitting an application.
Some applicants find it easier to obtain administrator support for a virtual collaboration, as they generally do not require you to be absent from your classroom or place of employment for a long duration of time. Virtual collaborations can also be a great opportunity to bring real-world polar research to your learners.
Polar STEAM supports educator professional development by providing a certificate of completion, including contact hours, upon completion of the program. Educators seeking to use this towards CEUs or certification are encouraged to check their individual state or school district’s requirements prior to participation in Polar STEAM. Polar STEAM can assist with additional documentation as needed. Educators may use the stipend toward the cost of CEU’s towards licensure renewals in their respective states.
Yes, the Polar STEAM program can cover the cost of a substitute teacher or replacement for deploying educators. This will be addressed on a case-by-case basis as it depends on several factors including the field deployment timeframe and the participant’s school or work schedule.
Researchers across a wide spectrum of disciplines, including social sciences, can apply to be Polar STEAM fellows. For specific questions, please reach out to the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is no cost to researchers to participate in Polar STEAM.
Polar STEAM is funded as a cooperative agreement through the National Science Foundation, Award #2221990, and as such is unable to provide letters of collaboration or support for individual grant proposals. Researchers may include their intent to seek collaborations with Polar STEAM in proposals to the NSF. Research teams should avoid proposal language that leads reviewers to believe that a specific collaborative outcome with Polar STEAM is negotiated. Polar STEAM is committed to building community and collaborating across the Polar research community. Please do reach out so we can be aware of your intention to seek collaborations [email protected].
Researchers may copy/paste the following statement into their proposal, to indicate why a letter of support is not attached. “We intend to seek collaboration with Polar STEAM in support of the broader impacts outlined in this proposal. Polar STEAM is an NSF-funded cooperative agreement, and as such is unable to provide a letter of collaboration or support.”
In addition to the FAQs below, see also the July 2023 informational webinar recording and additional answers to questions asked during the webinar on the application page.
There are two possibilities for Artists & Writers’ field time in Antarctica: (1) to be embedded with a science team, or (2) to conduct their work independently in Antarctica. Depending on the nature of the artist or writer’s proposed work, there are advantages to either scenario.
In the first scenario, being embedded with a science team would involve daily collaboration and work together during the field season, with collaboration time pre-and post- season as well. In the second scenario, the artist or writer would still be in the Antarctic environment and interact with some science teams and people living and working at Antarctic research stations.
In the application, it is ok to indicate your preference, however it is not required. The Polar STEAM facilitated matching process will assist in negotiating this during the semi-finalist stage. The list of collaborating researchers is not available during the application phase for Artists & Writers.
The Artist & Writer participant owns the copyright to the material produced.
Polar STEAM welcomes applications from working artists, writers, and creative practitioners in a variety of genres, from traditional to experimental. Examples of previous creative work and collaborations can be enjoyed in the online exhibition Adequate Earth produced by the Antarctic Artists and Writers Collective. Though these are representative of past projects, Polar STEAM encourages potential applicants to consider new and innovative artistic approaches in preparing their application. Polar STEAM is unable to support projects that propose a permanent installation in the Antarctic or performance-based works that occur only during the residency.
All diving under NSF auspices in Antarctica requires prior approval from the NSF. Artists & Writers award recipients have been granted permission to dive, but this does not occur frequently. The USAP Participant Guide outlines strict diving qualifications and requirements, and these should be carefully considered before proposing to dive in Antarctica. Requirements include submitting a dive plan and having it reviewed. There must be a strong justification that diving is necessary.