Antarctica

I can’t say we did an entire unit on Antarctica, but we revisited it briefly this past week and a half as we read Mr. Popper’s Penguins aloud together. The kids really loved the book and it was a relatively quick read (about 4 or 5 days for us).

I wanted to touch on Antarctica again partly for ED since we’ve been going over the seven continents for her and partly because we’re going to be learning a bit about the arctic next in her preschool trek through the various biomes this year.  (We covered the ocean, desert, and deciduous forest earlier this year.) I really wanted to drive home the fact that there are no penguins in the Arctic and no polar bears in Antarctica.

Most of the time the kids are working on something else while I read aloud. One afternoon I brought out the pictures that Grandma and Grandpa took on their trip to Antarctica a few years ago. The slideshow played while I read a few chapters from the book. Here are a few of Grandpa’s pictures:

 

Magellanic Penguins (spelled incorrectly up above, but I’m too tired right now to re-edit the photo)

Sea lion and King Cormorant

 

Last year we talked a lot about penguins.  We revisited a lot of those same activities this past week — here’s last year’s blog post.

The kids all loved playing the March of the Penguins game called Save the Egg  at the National Geographic site. I can’t say it’s that ‘educational’ but they were thrilled when they managed to keep the egg from being knocked off their penguin’s feet.

 

This year we also talked a lot about the scientific research and work that happens at the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica.  We watched excerpts from Encounters at the End of the World on Netflix.

The kids roared in laughter as the new arrivals at McMurdo stumbled around with buckets on their heads — an exercise in dealing with the white out conditions that happen frequently in Antarctica. The team had to try to find a lost member while stumbling along nearly blind and hardly able to hear. The buckets had hilarious faces drawn on them which tickled the kids’ funny bone!  My brother-in-law’s sister worked down there a number of years ago. I’ll have to ask Uncle T if his sister had to do that same exercise!

The kids were also intrigued by the ocean research and were amazed that in that one dive three new species were discovered.  There were some pretty cool looking ocean creatures featured.  We sure liked the film (or the parts we saw) here.

I wrote to Uncle T to get the real scoop about C’s experiences is Antarctica. As I mentioned above my brother-in-law’s sister did research (she’s a geologist) in Antarctica. I wanted the real scoop “Did C have to walk around Antarctica with a smiley bucket on her head?”   Here’s the conversation as it went (via email) between Uncle T and his sister, C:

T:  So did you?

C:  Thankfully no!  :)   I did have to go through Snow School though. (C later explained to me — “Snow school is a two-three day training school for using the survival equipment. We dug either holes in the snow or igloos in which to sleep. We learned how to use the stoves and military radio as well as set up the 4 season tents. The instructors slept in the tents, and we slept in the igloos/snow holes.”)

T: So they did not let you play in all the reindeer games?

C: I was doing research in the Dry Valleys, where there are very few white out conditions, if ever.  If I was going to the South Pole or staying longer, then I’d probably get to play that game too!

T: So that’s the reason why she did not become a bucket-head….

C later told me (again via email) that she hopes to go back to Antarctica to do further research in a few years.

 

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