While many college students use their holiday break to travel to warm places for bowl games and sun tanning — a group of Iowa State University students is on break in Antartica. I-S-U professor Carol Vleck is taking a group of 12 students on the two week trip. She says it sounds cold, but it might not be as bad as we’ve seen in Iowa recently. She says it’s summer in the southern hemisphere, although she says it’s certainly not like going to the beach. She says there’ll be more sunlight and the temperatures will be around 32. She says it could be like a fall or spring day here. Vleck says this is an educational trip — but there’ll also be some time to relax. She says it’s a two-and-a-half day boat trip there and back, so they’ll have five days of being on the boat watching for whales, or watching videos. She says the trip itself will put them ashore two or three times a day and they’ll get to see penguins and other wildlife. Vleck is an associate professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, and says the trip will follow up on what the students have been learning in class.Each student has written a paper and will then make a presentation on site. For example, one student has written a paper on penguins and will give a talk on them, another student has written a paper on some of the Antartic ice fishes that don’t have hemoglobin in their blood and can be in subzero water without freezing. Vleck’s penguin research in Antartica led to the idea for the field trip — which is her second. She says they did the first field trip to Antartica back in 1999 and had a great time. She says she wouldn’t want to do it every year, but once every four or five years. She says it takes a special type of person to want to go. Vleck says it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some students, but others may find a career. She says she hopes some may decided to go back as the National Science Foundation employs a lot of people there. Vleck says the trip isn’t expensive, it costs each student about five-thousand dollars. The students left December 25th and return on January 8th.
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