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Dr. Johanna Speirs, a Climate Scientist from Snowy Hydro with Science Academy and senior students.

Climate Scientist Dr. Johanna Speirs from Snowy Hydro visited Snowy Mountains Grammar School on Tuesday and gave a presentation to students. Her talk revolved around her recent visit to Antarctica as part of Homeward Bound, a program designed to promote the importance of women in science. Students learned that not all of Antarctica is covered in snow, and that penguins are actually rather dirty, albeit amusing creatures, among many other tidbits of information. On a more serious note, recent changes in our climate were also discussed. In this early session, the focus was squarely on the wildlife that Dr. Speirs encountered, which was clearly of interest for Year 5 and 6 students.

The second session was a “Q&A” type event with Science Academy and senior students. Dr. Speirs answered questions from students in relation to climate change, her work in Antarctica and general information about her career. Dr. Speirs explained how she dealt with the constant presence of daylight in the Antarctic summer, climate phenomena such as the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) affecting the weather, and how Twitter has become important for communication of ideas and findings.

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Antarctica. Credit: Image courtesy USGS, NASA, National Science Foundation, and the British Antarctic Survey. 

Science is an interesting beast. So-called “experts” abound, particularly in the area of climate science, where everyone has an opinion, educated or not. In the current political “climate”, it was invaluable for students to hear the perspectives of an expert who actually works in the field. Through the presentations by Dr. Speirs, students now have an understanding of how real science is carried out, the importance of gathering information from reputable sources and the extensive opportunities that a career in science can present.

We thank Dr. Speirs for her time today.

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