Upper School Science Visits the Land of Ice and Fire
By Upper School Science teacher Xiao Zhang
Recently, Science Department faculty Bridget Lesinski led Kara Schupp, myself and a group of 29 Upper School students to Iceland for a five-day science field trip.
We visited Thingvellir National Park, the site for open-air assembly representing the whole of Iceland by the Viking settlers from 930 to 1798. The Thingvellir National Park is a rift valley where the Euro-Asia and North America continental plates drift apart from each other. We also visited the Lava Museum, an amazing interactive museum, to learn about the volcanoes in Iceland, and climbed a caldera of a dormant volcano with a frozen-over small lake on the top.
Solheimajokull Glacier walk was the highlight for many students. We learned about the retreat of the glacier due to global climate change. A deep lake was formed at the beginning of the glacier due to the melt water. On the glacier we saw a significant amount of ash from the 1918 eruption of the Katla volcano. Iceland is truly a land of ice and fire.
We learned how Iceland is using geothermal energy by visiting the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant. Scientists in Iceland are working on conserving the water resources by recycling water used in generating geothermal energy and are actively researching how to turn the carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide gas byproduct from the geothermal energy generation process into solids and fix the solids into rock beds. Icelandic people are very creative. They created the Blue Lagoon, a famous geothermal spa, from the excess water and heat from a geothermal power plant.
Some students joined the locals at a public swimming pool, a favorite local pastime. The students enjoyed the hot, mineral-rich water in the pool and steam house. We discovered the pride Icelandic people take in their language and political independence. In addition to geothermal energy, the Icelandic people are also proud of their water. We enjoyed a lot of food in Iceland, including the skyr, Icelandic yogurt, lamb and fish. We also enjoyed visiting an Icelandic horse stable and learned the unique genetic heritage of Icelandic horses.