Antarctica Day Activities: teaching children about Antarctica and polar science

SCRIPT is pleased to announce, as a funding partner in collaboration with polar.lu – Luxembourg’s polar progam a.s.b.l., the successful developments of the Antarctica Day Activities in Luxembourg.

Antarctica Day is a tradition within the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) and usually revolves around outreach projects teaching young children about Antarctica and polar science in general. The APECS national committees of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg teamed up in 2018 to organize an international outreach project within the context of Antarctica Day. Enthusiastic APECS members visited different schools throughout the three countries to share their passion for the poles and over 100 children in each country took part in the program. Partnerschools in Luxembourg were the primary schools in Junglinster, Gonderange, Frisange, Remich and the Schengen-Lyzeum.

The teams of APECS BeNeLux collaborated with Dutch artist Udo Prinsen to set up a solargraphy project for researchers and schoolchildren alike. Solargraphy, tracking the movement of the sun through the sky using pinhole cameras and long exposure times (6 months, from winter solstice till summer solstice), enables children to see how the sun moves through the sky. This is a major factor in our climate system and also explains the climate at the poles, as well as the polar night and polar day. Apart from that, the resulting images are wonderful to look at.

All workshops in Luxembourg included a practical part, where the children were building their own camerae obscurae. The kids learned how easily the camerae can be built with everyday objects. The functioning of the camerae was explored as well. 

In June, around the summer solistice, which is also the official Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada, the apecs.lu and polar.lu team went back to these schools. The camerae obscurae were developed, and the resulting images discussed with the pupils.
The students were also told a traditional inuit story about how the raven brought the sun(light) back in spring. After exploring the topic and learning about the life of the inuit, the pupils were then drawing their own imaginary picture based on the legend.

The picture represents a solargraphy taken during the project.