Girls on Ice a go! Funding supports young scientists setting off on adventure of a lifetime

10 young women are set for the adventure of a lifetime this summer, thanks to Girls on Ice Canada and a major funding infusion from the Government of Canada.

Jennifer Pascoe - 2 May 2019

Girls on Ice Canada (GOIC) has just been awarded $25,000 through the Natural Resource and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) PromoScience Program to continue their mission of taking ten 16- and 17-year old women on a 12-day expedition through Glacier National Park. The program is designed to expose next generation scientists to the processes that create the natural world, providing an environment that fosters the critical thinking necessary to all scientific inquiry.

Alison Criscitiello, who serves as Technical Director of the Canadian Ice Core Archive housed in the University of Alberta's Faculty of Science, said it is critical to get aspiring scientists out onto the ice in the coolest-literally-live classroom on the planet, showing young women what studying glaciology looks like firsthand, encouraging diversity in the sciences.

"It has been clear for years that there is a huge need for a tuition-free program like this in Canada," said Criscitiello. "My three co-founders and I share a strong desire to create an opportunity for high school girls that didn't exist until now: a no-barriers, tuition-free, science- and mountain-based program in our home mountains."

An accomplished glaciologist in her own right, Criscitiello is frequently in the field drilling ice cores in the Canadian Arctic and Antarctica when she's not in the lab in Edmonton studying climate clues contained in ice. "The outdoor classroom is a powerful, unbeatable environment to develop critical thinking skills and encourage confidence," said Criscitiello.

The inaugural GOIC expedition ran in August of 2018, with the second venture set for this summer. The program is patterned after the American model of Girls on Ice, which has been running for the past two decades, part of the larger Inspiring Girls Expeditions.

The Canadian edition is in high demand, with more than 600 applications for the coveted ten spots. The PromoScience funding will help ensure that GOIC achieves program objectives to include under-represented teenage women, with minority and First Nations youth serving as the largest beneficiary groups of the program. To increase program reach and accessibility, this year's expedition will include a live session from the field via the National Geographic live classroom program, connecting the GOIC participants and leaders to hundreds of other students from across North America.

The PromoScience Program, funded through NSERC, offers financial support for organizations working with young Canadians to promote an understanding of science and engineering (including mathematics and technology).