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Reading: It Takes a ‘Superhero’ to Uncover the Climate Secrets in Fossilized Arctic Ocean Dinocysts


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It Takes a ‘Superhero’ to Uncover the Climate Secrets in Fossilized Arctic Ocean Dinocysts


Margie Turrin ,

Estelle Allan,

Jeremy Stock,

Laurel Zaima


The Snow On Ice project developed curricular materials using scientists depicted as superheroes as a means of engaging students and providing a novel method to link current climate change in the Arctic to Middle-Holocene Warming—a topic that might seem to be remote and seemingly unrelatable. The project explored whether superheroes could be a hook for introducing and retaining new science, vocabulary, and introducing scientists as role models. We recognized that the training and skills our scientists possess are akin to super-skills, and the scientists themselves could be easily viewed as superheroes. For the project, we transitioned our scientists into superheroes, each with a unique super-skill needed for uncovering past Arctic climate change. In this paper, we focus on one of those researchers, Ph.D. candidate Estelle Allan, to demonstrate how this curriculum was developed using our superhero as the center point. Our project’s educa-tional instruction incorporates both real scientific data and a STEAM interdisciplinary approach (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Mathematics) to bring complex scientific concepts and cutting edge research into the classroom, while the integration of art facilitates the delivery of accessible information with long-term retention (Ghanbari 2015). We have worked with approximately 300 teachers in workshops introducing our superheros, posters, and curriculum and have tested the material with multiple middle school and high school groups with great success. We ran pre- and post-tests with over 100 high school students and include our findings in the ‘Results’ section. The results have indicated that presenting scientists as superheroes makes challenging science topics more attainable to students. All the project curriculum is freely downloadable from the project website (https://blog.Ideo.columbia edu/snowonice/education-resources-scientists-are-superheroes/).
How to Cite: Turrin, M., Allan, E., Stock, J., & Zaima, L. (2020). It Takes a ‘Superhero’ to Uncover the Climate Secrets in Fossilized Arctic Ocean Dinocysts. Current: The Journal of Marine Education, 34(1), 22–28. DOI:
Published on 14 Mar 2020.
Peer Reviewed


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