Message - South Pole Station Mock-Up - Ntnl Science Foundation Grant

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Posted by  Louis Sugarman on April 10, 2004 at 11:42:25:

Hello. I have a temporary-installation design project which has a solid chance of being funded and built through a National Science Foundation grant. For the architecture angle, skip down to "The Project - Site Layout." If interested, please contact me.

BSA-NSF Antarctic Research Program:
Activity/ Exhibit at 2005 Scout Jamboree

I have a great story, a super venue, an exciting project, and possible funding. I am looking for some help in planning educational activities and designing the exhibit site. Any assistance or introductions that you could give me would be most appreciated.

The Story. Every two years the National Science Foundation (NSF) invites the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to select one Eagle Scout to join a three-month research expedition to Antarctica. Every other year a Girl Scout gets to go. The NSF is interested in promoting science and engineering education and careers. The BSA and GSA are naturally happy to nominate Scouts for this unusual opportunity. For more detail, go to and type Antarctica in the search-box.

The Venue. Every four to five years the BSA hosts a National Scout Jamboree, a week-long camping festival attended by 40,000 Scouts and adult leaders. The next Jamboree is scheduled for July 25-August 3, 2005. For more detail, check:

The Project - Funding. Eighteen years ago I was the BSA-NSF Antarctic Scout. I have recently spoken with staff at the Office of Polar Programs, NSF, and with staff at the BSA. While the NSF has made no funding commitment, the NSF is interested in the idea of an Antarctic Activity/ Exhibit at the Scout Jamboree. Neither NSF nor BSA are able to devote staff resources to this project, however, so I am writing a grant proposal for the NSF to fund this effort. The grant proposal deadline is June 4.

The Project - Activities. This project will live or die according to the activities we plan. Activities, in turn, will determine site layout, staffing, and funding requirements. Scouts have a tremendous amount of activities at the Jamboree. I am told that Scouts should be able to walk up to our site, see and quickly get the point of our activities, and be able to complete the activities in 5-10 minutes.

Here is what I have come up with so far. (1) Virginia in July is hot. At the front of the site let's have an ice-filled "Antarctic Ocean" dunk tank, appropriately decorated. Instead of baseballs, let's get a sno-cone machine so Scouts can throw snow-balls at the target. (2) At the back of the site, let's have 12 sets of Antarctic cold-weather gear. Scouts can get in the gear and pose for a picture at a mock South Pole. Check (3) In between the ocean and the South Pole, we need three to five on-site activities. How about have sextants for Scouts to measure latitude by hand, comparing it to the true latitude of the site. The point of course is that the Amundsen and Scott used sextants to measure their trek to 90-degrees South. (4)-(7) I need some more ideas for on-site activities; perhaps various Earth Science projects would be appropriate. (8) I want to have 12 sets of snowshoes for Scouts to sign-out and trek around the area. (9) Also, I want to have 12 sets of (grass) cross-country skis for Scouts to sign-out. (10) We should have various sleds for the snow-shoe and cross-country ski patrols to pull, they could take turns being passengers.

The Project - Site Layout. April 30 I am visiting the Jamboree site, which will give me a sense of how much space we may be able to use. For now, I am thinking in terms of a standard suburban home lot. Many Jamboree camp sites build large gateways; this gets to be a real competition and point of honor. Naturally, I am interested in our site standing out, too. You will find some good, basic South Pole photos here: (1) The South Pole Station is a large, aluminum geodesic dome. While we could not get funding for such a thing, how would this work: two forty-foot radius half-circles coated to look like aluminum, set up to form an "X" so that each supports the other? How do you think this would really look? Would these stand up to likely winds? Would they need additional cross-supports? Can we cut a door into each of the four walls thus formed? How easily could this be transported? How can this be safely constructed on site? How much would this cost? (2) Antarctica is a roughly circular continent. On the ground, using something like garden edging, we could trace the map of the continent. So the map of the continent would define the boundary of the pseudo-dome. (3) I anticipate that we will be able to get photo and other exhibit materials loaned from the NSF and BSA. But this still leaves a lot of detail to be planned.

Thank you for your review of this project. If you have any suggestions or introductions for me, I will really appreciate it.

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