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Polar Bear Education Events for Adults and Children Highlight Arctic Life, Biodiversity

April 2, 2013
Man with polar bears
PBI Chief Scientist Steve Amstrup has studied polar bears for more than 30 years. He will present a public seminar Monday, April 8, at 6 p.m. and participate in a panel discussion Tuesday, April 9, at 3:30 p.m., both at the UW Berry Center. (Mike Lockhart Photo)

What is it like to study polar bears on the Arctic sea ice? What kind of data do scientists collect? Teachers, students and the public will have the chance to meet polar bear scientists and ask questions via three free public education events April 8-9 at the University of Wyoming.

Polar Bears International (PBI), the world’s leading polar bear conservation group, the UW Biodiversity Institute and the UW Department of Zoology and Physiology host the educational programs. Multiple components of the polar bear events will be available online, by remote access, for free.

The schedule includes three different events related to polar bears, each designed for a different audience:

Monday, April 8, 6 p.m. -- Public seminar for adults and high school students. "Polar bears and climate change, certainties, uncertainties, and hope for the rest of us" by Steven Amstrup, PBI, will be presented live at the UW Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center, or will be available online at    

Tuesday, April 9, Tundra Connections presents webcasts at multiple times. All of the webcasts are available online only. Learn how to sign up at  During the webcast, students can receive answers in real time by submitting questions to

Polar Bear Tracker, 9 a.m., for grades 4-8. Meet biologists and researchers who track polar bears in the wild. Learn what they know about polar bear populations, tracking bears and what actions can be taken to help this species. 

Livin’ Large Like a Polar Bear, 10:30 a.m., for grades K-4. How big are polar bears and how do they get that way? Explore their unique adaptations to survive the Arctic cold.

Feast to Famine, 1 p.m., for adults and professionals. Explore polar bear energetics throughout the year, from gaining mass and energy stores in the spring to avoiding the ill health effects of fasting.

Tuesday, April 9, 3:30-5 p.m., Polar Bear Extravaganza for children grades K-8. Meet the scientists, touch polar bear fur and learn about the Arctic, live at the UW Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center. Experts tell stories of their Arctic research and adventures while children will have the opportunity to ask questions.

The panelists are:

-- Amstrup, PBI’s chief scientist, who has studied polar bears for more than 30 years;

-- Merav Ben-David, a biologist at UW, who studies the effects of climate change on polar bears;

-- Elizabeth Flaherty, a wildlife ecologist at UW whose research includes responses to habitat changes and habitat fragmentation;

-- Hank Harlow, a physiological ecologist at UW who specializes in stress responses in wildlife, including food deprivation;

-- John Whiteman, a doctoral student at UW, whose research focuses on how polar bears adjust their physiology in response to environmental change;

-- Moderator Leah Knickerbocker, program manager at PBI.

This interaction will be followed by children using educational stations to receive hands-on experience with polar bear ecology and research.

PBI is dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear and its threatened sea ice habitat through research, education and action. Discover educational resources, world-leading research and ways to help polar bears at

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