The Philosophy of Girls on Ice
Girls on Ice is a unique, FREE, wilderness science education program for high school girls that takes place in the North Cascades in Washington state and on a glacier in Alaska. Each year a team of 9 teenage girls and 3 instructors spend 11 days exploring and learning about mountain glaciers and the alpine landscape through scientific field studies with professional glaciologists, ecologists, mountain guides, and artists.
The girls on the team learn not only about alpine geology, glaciology, and mountaineering, but they also challenge themselves and gain self-confidence in their physical, intellectual, and social abilities. Girls on Ice is the science version of a “language immersion” experience – where we connect science with all aspects of daily life with the goal of creating lifelong advocates for Earth science, specifically, and the scientific process as a whole, regardless of whether or not they decide to specialize in science in college.
Our purpose is to give girls a feeling for the natural processes that create the alpine world and provide an environment that fosters the critical thinking necessary to all scientific inquiry. We encourage the girls to observe and think like scientists by making observations and inferences. They develop their own experiments to test ideas and answer questions.
The wilderness setting and single gender field team inspires young women’s interest in science and provides a challenging environment that increases their physical and intellectual self-confidence.
» Watch a video of interviews with two girls (courtesy of Northwest Cable News and the North Cascades Institute).
We have a fabulous group of women – scientists, artists, and mountain guides.
During these 11 days, we aim to challenge girls physically, intellectually, socially, and emotionally. We provide a unique environment that brings out their natural curiosity, inspires their interest in science, connects the arts and sciences, frees them from gender-imposed roles, provides a less competitive atmosphere, and encourages them to trust their physical abilities.
The girls will:
- experience strenuous hiking, scramble over rocks, travel off-trail, and cross streams,
- learn Leave-No-Trace wilderness ethics and discuss individual and community relationships with the natural world,
- learn roped-up glacier travel as a balance between self-reliance and dependence on a group,
- design their own scientific experiments to answer questions about the landscape they are exploring,
- take responsibility for many aspects of living and working as a team; all girls rotate through leadership roles over the course of the week,
- learn critical thinking skills through observation, directed and open-ended questions and experiments,
- experience the connection between art and science and the role each play in the large context of society,
- be encouraged to express themselves through art, writing, philosophical discussion, and more…