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Arctic Monkeying

The science of snow, for tots.

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Inuit performers from last year's Polar Weekend.  

Budding scientists plus anyone who likes cold weather can rub (cute, little) elbows with like-minded souls at the American Museum of Natural History’s International Polar Weekend. The two days of short lectures, performances, film clips, and the like are in honor of a worldwide scientific collaboration, the confusingly named International Polar Year. It’s taken place only three times over the past 125 years (1882–83, 1932–33, 1957–58) and basically amounts to smart people with degrees getting together to share their research on and information about really important climate- and polar-related stuff. “It’s such a fabulous model for how we can and should be working,” says director of public programs Elaine Charnov. Though the Polar Fair and lectures will appeal to all ages, there are also events specifically geared toward families, like discussions of polar exploration and expeditions (historical and current). “It’s an epic project—why there has been such interest for so many years and what we can learn from it today. Families are so exposed to the concepts of climate change and global warming,” says Charnov. “We’ll tie it in with polar research this weekend.” Another surefire crowd-pleaser: A solar physicist from the Norwegian Space Centre will deliver a multimedia presentation on the myths and science behind the northern lights. To round out the hard facts, there will be coverage of the cultures living in polar areas. Norwegian Sami chanters will perform, as will Canadian Inuit throat singers. “Throat singing is mesmerizing and fabulous,” Charnov says. Two people face each other and imitate sounds found in nature, like seagulls or the wind. “Anyone able to sit still for fifteen minutes or so would get something out of it.” Sadly, that rules out a lot of mothers these days. Kidding! Sort of. 

2/2 and 2/3, noon to 5:30 p.m. American Museum of Natural History, Central Park W. at 79th St. (212-769-5100 or amnh.org/polar); free with admission.


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