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Explore the Microscopic Life of Earth’s Poles


Have you ever wanted to visit the Arctic or Antarctic see polar bears or penguins? In this course, you will learn that there is more to Earth’s polar regions than the animals you can see!

The microorganisms that inhabit our coldest and most remote regions – tiny bacteria, archaea and protists – have unique adaptations that allow them to live in these harsh places. They also play an important role in Earth’s carbon cycle. Students will learn what makes polar environments unique, how microbes have adapted to thrive in these environments and how these microbes help to regulate Earth’s climate. Students will have the option to construct a simple climate model using the open-source computer language R.

What You Will Learn

  • Be able to distinguish the Arctic and the Antarctic by their unique physical, chemical and biological characteristics.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of the microbial life present in polar regions.
  • Understand how polar microbes contribute to the carbon cycle and help regulate Earth’s climate.
  • Research and do a presentation on an interesting polar microbe and its potential application for human use.
  • Know how to construct a simple climate model in the computer language R.

Return to the Sally Ride Science Junior Academy website here.

Note: Upon successful enrollment of a section, students will receive a confirmation email from our Student Services team. This email will include a link to an authorization form that is required to be completed within 72-hours of enrollment. 

In response to COVID-19 health guidelines, we have restructured our in-person Junior Academy workshops as online courses. Contact us at if you have questions.

Course Number: SIO-90031
Credit: 1.50 unit(s)