Thursday, 15 May 2014

An Arctic adventure... from the comfort of your classroom!

Last month, over 3000 students between the ages of 7 and 16 travelled thousands of miles to one of the remotest regions on the planet... And they did it all without leaving the comfort of their classroom!

How? Well, they were all taking part in Digital Explorer’s Arctic Live Education Event, which saw students from across the world accompany an expedition of scientists and explorers to the Arctic using Skype in the classroom.

Thousands more students were able to follow the expedition via the Digital Explorer blog, social media and accompanying educational resources.

Jamie chats with one class at St. Bartholomew's Primary in Sydenham

The aim of the expedition was to investigate the latest impacts of climate change on the Arctic Ocean, specifically looking at ocean acidification. Schools were able to connect and interact with the expedition live via satellite at the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) base on Svalbard, the northernmost public settlement in the world.

Digital Explorer director, Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop, said: “It has been an amazing opportunity to share life and science in the frozen north with so many students around the world. We hope that through this experience, they will reflect on how they can play a role in preserving this fragile and beautiful ecosystem for future generations.”

But what did the students think of this grand adventure?

Pupils at Scoil Fhursa in Ireland strike a pose!
“The experience was incredible. I learned so much it took me almost 10 minutes to explain everything to my Mum!” – Matt

“It was fantastic to have a once in a lifetime chance to be informed directly by one of the scientists the causes of global warming. I was determined to find out more after it was over.” – Lily

“It was nice to know about all the interesting things you guys are doing. We learned about the krill and how far down in the ocean you put the nets to catch them. We also learned how many layers of clothes you have to wear sometimes. I thought the Skype was awesome. It was an amazing experience to talk with Jamie.” – Logan

And their teachers?

“To me, this is a fresh teaching experience and has shown that learning need not be confined to the textbooks. This will definitely make students’ learning more relevant and authentic.” – Chye Thiam Chng, St Nicholas Girls' School, Singapore

“Thank you so much for that opportunity to speak to you [Jamie – via Skype] today and for taking the time to chat to the students. Although you couldn't see it, the children all gasped when they saw you up on the screen and ooed and awed, something very special for them indeed, so thank you. They were hanging on your every word!” – Christopher Muller, Eastwood School, Essex

And you can still get involved!

Ocean Literacy is becoming a larger part of the UK national curriculum, and it's more important than ever to engage students from a young age in the protection and preservation of our environment – especially the Arctic, one of the most vulnerable and fragile environments on the planet.

The Arctic Education Event, its blog, social media feeds and classroom resources – including a range of booklets and videos, as well as free science lesson plans on, among other subjects, ocean acidification – provide an innovative and engaging approach to educating young people.

Digital Explorer hope to run the Arctic Live Education Event again next year. But this isn’t their only event! Students and teachers can accompany a wide range of live expeditionsdownload exciting resources about various environmental issues, and organise visits from real-life adventurers and scientists! See this page for more information.

Jamie teaches in the snow!

Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop’s trip to the Arctic and the wider Frozen Oceans education program are sponsored by Catlin Group Limited.

Interested in exploring the Arctic even further in your classroom?

Capture your students' imaginations with our mixed media resource pack, Arctic Stories, available to purchase from the TeachingTimes Bookshop.

Designed to promote the skills-based curriculum, this resource pack is full of thoughtful activities to help children learn about the ecosystem of the Arctic and understand how indigenous peoples relate to it.

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