The 4th International Polar Year featured a range of large international research projects and included a focus on Education and Public Outreach (EPO). ANDRILL (the ANtarctic geological DRILLing Project) was a large international (USA, New Zealand, Italy, Germany) multidisciplinary research project investigating the sedimentary record of Cenozoic ice sheet dynamics that brought approximately 160 scientists to McMurdo Station in the 2006 and 2007 field seasons, during which two > 1000 m sediment cores were successfully retrieved from the floor of the Ross Sea. ARISE (ANDRILL Research Immersion for Science Educators), the EPO arm of ANDRILL, deployed an international team of six to eight educators each season to Antarctica and embedded them with science teams. ARISE was unique in the EPO spectrum because it deployed a team of international educators together with an EPO coordinator, offered an on-ice geoscience course for the educators, and supported educator participation at both pre-ice and post-ice meetings. Conservative estimates indicate that at least 314,700 individuals have been reached directly through the wide range of ARISE EPO endeavours.
Educator field research immersion is a small subset of educator professional development (PD) opportunities, with little quantitative or qualitative evaluation of polar immersion experiences having been reported. Here, surveys of ARISE educators and scientists are used to evaluate the efficacy of the ARISE program as PD in the context of research on educator PD. Persistent and recurring themes emerging from the surveys are: (1) the positive and reinforcing impact of deployment as a team; (2) the importance of access to scientists across an extended period of time and venues; (3) the importance of ‘doing science’ as a means of learning; and (4) recognition of the senses of excitement, engagement and inspiration displayed by both educators and scientists − about drilling progress, core interpretation, and outreach plans – and the EPO audience. Key components of the program are shown to be (1) deployment of a multi-educator team; and (2) guidance and support of the EPO coordinator at all phases of the ARISE experience.