ShoreZone in the Classroom

For many people of northern Alaska, keeping their traditional Iñupiaq culture alive doesn’t mean avoiding modern technology. Indeed, the school district on the North Slope has embraced a learning framework that–while guided by, and deeply rooted in, iñua–provides the skills and tools for youth to navigate effectively in a modern world.

After a meeting with educators in Barrow, ShoreZone team members and educators worked together to develop a middle school science unit that combines modern tools like the ShoreZone database with traditional knowledge gathered from Elders in the community. The coastal ecosystems unit will help 6th, 7th and 8th graders explore the interdependency between animals and fish and their food and environment. Students will learn to use the ShoreZone coastal mapping database online to search for ideal places for subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering based upon their knowledge of environmental dependencies. After drawing information from the database, students will share their findings with an Elder or knowledge bearer to get input about Iñupiaq place names, local knowledge about their chosen animal or fish, and ways to respect that animal or fish when engaged in subsistence activities.

This project was organized by Maeva Gauthier with Coastal & Ocean Resources and led by Marie Acemah, education consultant. Science teacher Kevin Neyhard developed the unit collaboratively with Marie. The project was supported by The Nature Conservancy and National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, Alaska.