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Washington Heights Teacher Heading to South Pole

By Nigel Chiwaya | December 6, 2013 2:58pm
 MS319 teacher Obed Fulcar will spend two weeks in Antarctica helping with a $242 million expedition.
WaHi Teacher Heads to South Pole
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Obed Fulcar, a special education instructor at M.S. 319 Maria Teresa Mirabal, is getting ready to travel to the South Pole next month for as part of a scientific research mission, where temperatures will drop to below minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fulcar, 48, is participating in PolarTREC, a National Science Foundation-funded program that links K-12 teachers with scientists and provides them with the chance to conduct hands-on research in Antarctica. Fulcar will participate in the Ice Cube Neutrino project, a $242 million venture aimed at furthering understanding of neutrinos — tiny, subatomic particles given off by the sun and other stars.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Fulcar, who will spend 15 days on the frozen tundra. "More people have been to Mount Everest than the South Pole. I think that's pretty cool."

The trip isn't Fulcar's first expedition. The Dominican native spent three weeks monitoring fishing quotas with scientists in the Bering Sea in 2010 as part of the Teacher at Sea program.

Fulcar said he used the journeys to help engage his students in Washington Heights. The teacher keeps a blog of his journeys, and has his students read and write responses to the posts.

In addition, students have built physical models and drawn charts of neutrinos. The teacher said the expeditions and preparations help his students learn geography, mathematics, as well as the principles of sunlight and energy.

"You learn about science by doing science," Fulcar said.

Fulcar said he wanted to produce a children's book based on his journeys, and added that he has one further big goal after the South Pole: deep space.

"If God gives me the strength, I want to be a teacher in space at the International Space Station," Fulcar said.