Traveling through the Drake Passage in the roughest waters in world, having friendly meetings with penguins, and experimenting with plankton and icebergs were just a few highlights of the two week expedition Lane Loewen recently took through Antarctica.
Lane was the youngest of 66 people from 14 countries traveling with Students On Ice. As an 8th grader he joined the award-winning organization for an educational expedition to Antarctica. The group works to provide students, educators and scientists from around the world knowledge and respect of planet Earth through educational experiences. Lane is an experienced world traveler, having been to Mexico, England, and various parts of Europe. His trip to Europe was two years ago, with a group similar to Students on Ice.
Lane set-off for his Antarctic journey on Christmas Day. Their first stop was Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was quickly acquainted with the other members of the excursion as he boarded the ship he would call home for the coming week. English was the common language among the group. Lane recalls the Swedish members of the group having a peculiar accent.
Their journey started as they navigated through the Drake Passage, Elephant Island, and through the Northern Peninsula to Deception Island. They traveled through Whaler’s Bay and around the mainland of Argentina. Each day, the group took small boats to shore to spend two two-hour long sessions on the ice. Lane was accustomed to the temperatures hovering at zero, but many of his travel mantes were not. He recalls fellow explorers from Texas and Arizona struggling with the cool temperatures.
Some days were spent drilling blocks of ice the icebergs to study, while other afternoons were devoted to admiring the wild life. Lane recounts the massive amount of leopard seals that would poke their heads through the water near the group. The captivating animals have vicious teeth, wide eyes, are ten feet in length, and weigh in at nearly a ton, so the group made sure they spectated from a distance.
Other creatures, notably penguins, engaged with the explorers. Lane found the black and white birds to be his favorite, as they would waddle slowly to his side and peck at his boots. Large sperm whales unexpectedly made a visit to their area as well, uncommon for area they were in.
The days they spent drilling into the ice were days of discovery. The group would run tests to find the amount of carbon residing in the bergs, also studying how much the floating ice has shifted. Other experiments with phytoplankton and zooplankton were intriguing to Lane.
Lane was startled at the immensity and overall vastness of Antarctica. Until actually stepping onto the ice and experiencing it for himself, Lane didn't have a true understanding of what goes on in the southern most part of the world.
Lane plans to continue traveling the world in the years to come. Germany is a dream destination because of his love for architecture. Lane feels comfortable in Hillcrest’s student body, which is replete with world travelers with varied experiences. At 14 years old he is one of Hillcrest's youngest students, but his experiences and perspectives join an enriched student body that seeks to know God's word, participate in His world, and share His love.