Students experience Antarctica from classrooms

01:43, Jan 31 2009

New Zealand students can travel to Antarctica -- without leaving their classrooms.

Christchurch-based Learnz team members Darren Atkin and Charmaine Nelson are at Scott Base for two weeks to film and photograph the great southern continent, taking New Zealand children on a virtual field trip.

They hold live audio conferences with schools twice a day and upload diaries, videos and photographs on to their website each night.

Nelson and Atkin have taken the students across the sea ice, down dive holes in the ice and on Antarctic field training to experience camping out in a polar tent and building shelters from snow.

Ilam School in Christchurch is taking part in the programme, and Year 6 teacher Jo Dudley said her pupils were enjoying the experience.

"I think it's the fact that they're talking to experts down there, actually experiencing it. That means more to the pupils than going to a website or reading a book, it's a lot more of a genuine experience for them.


"The images and video they send back blow you away."

Ilam also has a soft-toy ambassador, Ambo the takahe, in Antarctica with Learnz staff.

"The children just love it, they can't wait to see what Ambo's been up to each day. It gives them a real connection."

Pupils can ask questions via audio and video conferences, with queries also being answered on a web board with help from experts at Scott Base.

Nelson, who has worked in environmental education, said it had been "a blast taking students down virtually -- I haven't lost any".

Atkin said it had been "great seeing how science has to meet the challenges of working in such an extreme environment, and being able to introduce students to the people here".


The Press