The Upcountry History Museum will invite visitors to explore real Ice Age fossils, ancient ice cores, climate change, and engineering challenges posed by thawing permafrost when it hosts Under the Arctic, Digging Into Permafrost.
Organized by the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI), in partnership with the University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute and a Native Alaskan advisory team, the 2,000 square foot immersive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) exhibition transports visitors to the Arctic using the sights and smells of the world’s only permafrost research tunnel.
Sixteen miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska, behind the door of a shed on a frozen hillside, is one of the world’s most remarkable research facilities. The underground Permafrost Tunnel Research Facility offers a unique opportunity to view and study 40,000-year-old frozen soil, along with the ice, plant material, bacteria, fossils, and bones frozen within it. Dug by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1960s to study permafrost excavation, the tunnel now supports a wide and growing body of scientific research related to numerous topics, among them: climate change.
Few people have the opportunity to enter the Permafrost Tunnel Research Facility, but thanks to the Under the Arctic exhibition, visitors will experience first-hand what it is like to journey underground, back to the Pleistocene.
Designed for families, life-long learners, and school groups, Under the Arctic has a special emphasis on reaching audiences ages 9-14, as they step into the shoes of climate science researchers. The exhibition’s research stations introduce students to diverse STEM-based careers.
In addition to the 30-foot long walk-through replica of the tunnel, visitors join the research team to learn from hands-on experiments, interactive models, and exciting games that explore the causes and consequences of climate change.
Through engaging experiences, visitors of all ages explore how the dramatic permafrost landscape provides clues to our past, present, and future, as well as consider realistic ways they can positively impact the environment and establish professional careers within the STEM field.