Last Friday, Glaciologist Dr Joseph Cook met with Year 6 pupils at St Laurence-in-Thanet Junior Academy via Teams, as part of their Geography work on Extreme Earth.
A fascinating hour had children enthralled as Dr Cook, who is from Margate, talked about his daring expeditions to the Poles. Staff and children listened to exciting tales of ice storms and northern lights, polar bears and exotic looking narwhals – enormous elephant seals – and cheeky penguins!
Breaths were held while hearing of the dangerous abseiling into previously unvisited ice caves and of how the explorers finally returned to the safety of their camp on the ice.
Dr Cook was really impressed with the way the year 6 listened intently and the intelligent questions they asked him. Many of the children have now been inspired to become scientists.
One Year 6 pupil said: “I now realise that I can do anything if I put my mind to it!” while another added: “‘Dr Cook is just a normal boy who went to school in Margate! If he can become a successful scientist, then I can.”’
Dr Cook has been fascinated by the great outdoors since childhood.
His first visit to a scientific camp on the Greenland ice sheet was life changing and cemented his determination to illuminate the unseen world of ice microbiology with the light of science.
Dr Cook, 34, graduated in physical geography from the University of Sheffield in 2008, before doing his PhD in microbial carbon dynamics on glaciers and ice sheets.
In 2013, he joined the University of Derby as lecturer in geoscience. In 2016, he returned to the University of Sheffield as a full-time research scientist. He has won more than a dozen awards, grants and scholarships, has published prolifically on glacial biology, and is an eloquent and passionate communicator of his research to the public.
He is currently working on projects funded by the UK Environmental Research Council, Microsoft, Rolex and National Geographic. In 2016 he was awarded a Rolex Award for Enterprise and in 2017 he was World Frontiers Forum Global Pioneer for Climate. In 2018 Dr Cook was on the San Miguel Alternative Rich list and then in 2019 he became a National Geographic Explorer and Microsoft AI for Earth grantee.
He shares his knowledge and enthusiasm via website To The Poles.