Activities for schoolchildren about Antarctica and polar science

The 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. Over 100 children in each country took part in the programme, divided over 3 elementary schools in the Netherlands, 4 in Belgium and 5 in Luxembourg: Junglinster, Gonderange, Frisange, Remich, 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.

Additionally, individual APECS members contributed insights, games, and stories relating to their personal polar research background (e.g. polar marine biology, permafrost, tourism on Svalbard, life of the circumpolar First Nations).  The schoolchildren were eager to learn first hand from scientists studying such fascinating topics.

The Luxembourgish team was additionally backed with the support of the SCRIPT and all workshops in Luxembourg included an additional 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 order to see the results of the children’s own camerae, APECS Luxembourg will organize another workshop around the summer solstice 2019. The pictures taken with the children’s camerae will be developed, and the pupils will have an opportunity to explore life, this time in the Arctic, in an artistic workshop.

Lastly, some pinhole cameras have been distributed among international scientists working at polar stations. This will result in a set of solargraphs from various climate zones, which will be showcased jointly with the children’s photographs/solargraphs at an online exhibition later in 2019.