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Lesson Plan



In this lesson developed by the Arctic Eider Society, students learn about the importance of polynyas for wildlife and Inuit communities. They can be particularly productive and dynamically changing areas, and ice conditions can be dangerous. Understanding their formation and dynamics, by exploring forces like tidal currents is crucial to navigating them safely.

1. Polynyas

First students learn about the formation of polynyas, an area of open water surrounded by sea ice that remains open throughout the winter. In order to do so, they learn about tides and currents.

2. Importance

Polynyas are unique ecosystems for wildlife and rich, but dangerous harvesting locations for Inuit. Students deepen their understanding of the importance of polynyas and associated risks.

3. Discussion

In order to integrate the concepts of this lesson and to reflect about polynyas in their community, students can engage through a series of questions and a brainstorming activity.


  • Interview local hunters to understand why polynyas can be some of the most dangerous areas for travel.
  • Map polynyas near your community by talking to hunters and/or using satellite imagery.
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