Arctic life takes center stage at UAMN educational events

Published: Nov. 11, 2023 at 8:59 AM AKST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2023 at 1:38 AM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum of the North (UAMN) houses prominent researchers, valuable artifacts and fascinating exhibits.

And every month, it also welcomes the community’s young and curious souls to learn more about the world around them.

Dozens of kids and their families filtered through the galleries on Friday morning, wearing smiles and pensive looks. Checking out displays like the ringed seal and arctic fox, they searched for animals and artifacts as part of the scavenger hunt organized for the Early Explorers event.

Designed for children 5 and under, UAMN Director of Education and Public Programs Jennifer Arseneau said the monthly program also featured crafty activities to get the kids keen on this month’s theme: Arctic Life.

“For the early explorers, they’re exploring all things arctic and that includes snow – so we’ve brought some snow inside and given them the chance to play with the snow while they’re out of all their snow gear,” Arseneau said, adding that the explorers were also “making masks of polar bears and arctic fox [and] learning about traditional clothing for the arctic.”

Some of the kids were enthralled with the feel of the snow. Some were in a trance of artistic expression. Some were focused on trying out carboard box-style ice fishing.

For others, though, getting up close and personal with the arctic animals was definitely the most captivating. Asked about his favorite part of Early Explorers, Jaxson Sharrow had no doubts what his answer would be.

“Bears! Seeing bears!” he said, pointing a finger at the nearby polar bear before letting out a deep “rawrrrrrr.”

On Saturday, the museum will shift attention to an older age group. Junior Curators, another monthly event, will run from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Staff design it for kids ages 6 and older.

“The older kids do a lot of the same kinds of activities, but of course take it up a notch,” Arseneau said, “and we’re gonna be teaching them how to ... make polar bear marbled prints.”

Arseneau explained these events fulfill a big part of the mission for Alaska’s only research and teaching museum: education.

“We like to host these kind of events just to welcome people in and help them look at the museum in a new way with a new theme, and make them feel comfortable,” she said.

On Nov. 18, the museum will cap off the Arctic Life-themed events with Family Day, which takes place from noon to 4 p.m. There, the public can chat with researchers who study archaeology, ethnology, history and mammalogy, among other activities. Kids under 14 receive free admission.