Another truly awesome Arctic adventure!


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Time for another virtual trip to the Arctic; rather apt as the weather starts to turn a little colder and the days are shorter! On board today were over 150 Key Stage 2 pupils and their teachers from two schools that I have worked with previously and located nearly as far east and west as you could get, namely King Charles C of E Primary School in Falmouth, Cornwall ( and Colman Junior School in Norwich, Norfolk (  On their arrival into the Zoom meeting, each class was given the name of a well-known Arctic explorer and their ‘claim to fame’ revealed.

Over the course of the day, we explored the following enquiry question together: ‘What is so cool about the Arctic?‘.

After I had formally welcomed and introduced everyone, I took the opportunity to develop pupils’ (and teachers’) locational knowledge by using Digimap for Schools (DfS) to pinpoint where we all were.  

Using Digimap for Schools to enhance pupils’ locational knowledge.

I then shared the learning objectives and format of the day so that our intentions were very clear; we had plenty to get through within the space of six hours!  We swiftly moved onto the ‘starter’.  I launched Google Earth Pro to transport pupils and teachers virtually to Svalbard in Norway and posed a number of questions to them relating to distance, direction, means of transport, cost, time and sustainability.  Students were given the chance to access Google Earth Pro themselves and the historical imagery button on the toolbar to see how Svalbard has changed over time.  Otherwise, they could watch my screen to observe the changes and then add their comments to the chat feed. 

Introducing the historical imagery and slider option to teachers and pupils to enable them to identify changes over time.
Lovely to see children from Colman Junior School using a globe to explore too.

I threw a few questions at pupils to gauge their perceptions of the Arctic, before showing a short movie clip about this fantastic region (  Pupils (and teachers) were also surprised to discover that there are actually four North Poles!

A great means of drip-feeding facts about the Arctic to pupils.

During the ‘main’ session, we looked at what the Arctic is like through a continuum line and true/false activity, zooming in on the tundra biome, identifying animals that live there, analysing and interpreting a climate graph for Longyearbyen, Svalbard, as well as investigating what the weather was like in Longyearbyen, Svalbard today and how it was similar/different to our location and the reasons for this.

Time for a change of state!
The only one that flummoxed pupils was number nine, the lemming.
Integrating geography and maths/numeracy. Quite a challenging task for pupils to complete in the alloted time. Introducing several new mathematical terms too, e.g. mean, median, range.

After a short break, we attempted to spot changes to the Lillihöök Glacier in Svalbard between 2019 and 2022, firstly by detailed observation and later via a 5Ws+ how? activity

Such significant change within the space of just three years. The questions really prompted pupils to think hard and some great responses were inserted in the chat feed.

Next, we considered what we mean by indigenous communitieshow they rely upon the Arctic and how climate change is affecting the people that are living there during ‘trios’, an oracy activity.

Lots of lively discussions were evident in each classroom.
Youngsters at Colman Junior School questioning each other.

It was then time for a change of state and spot of creativity.  Rhianna launched the sugar cube igloo challenge.  Rhianna proposed that pupils worked in small groups within their classrooms and, using the template and a box of sugar cubes provided, tried to construct an igloo.  Some images of the children in action and their creations can be viewed below.  Photographs of their final designs will also shortly be uploaded to Wicked Weather Watch’s website to enable an online vote to take place.  The winning design will receive some goodies from Wicked Weather Watch.

Exemplary teamwork.

Just before lunch, an image was displayed on the big screen.  Pupils were asked to imagine they were one of the individuals in the projected image and were challenged to think and write down a short message that such a person might wish to convey to the rest of the world.  Teachers selected a number of individuals within their class to come to the front and share their messages with the wider audience, e.g. representatives from Wicked Weather Watch, myself and pupils and staff in other primary schools across the UK.  Some of their messages were certainly very powerful.

On their return from lunch and whilst registers were being taken, students were invited to write down three intriguing and rather different questions that they would like to ask a ‘real life’ explorer.

The afternoon resumed with a visit from Nanou Blair Gould, who has travelled to the High Arctic Archipelago by tall ship.  Among many extraordinary things, she witnessed the effects of global warming first-hand.  Nanou was so invigorated by the adventure, e.g. the people; life outdoors; the sense of purpose, that she rejoined the ship, working among the small crew for almost four months.  She talked about her Arctic experience and answered the youngsters’ questions confidently and comprehensively.

So many stories to tell and some fantastic images to share.

Rhianna posed a number of questions to pupils afterwards, which they answered thoughtfully.

Plenty of thoughtful responses added to the chat feed. Pupils were encouraged to justify their opinions fully too.

The event concluded with pupils contemplating how they might reduce their carbon footprint.  We can all have a positive impact upon our planet.  Sustainability is certainly important for the climate of the UK, the Arctic and the world.

Some of our favourite quotes from the day were:

What makes the Arctic so appealing?

  • Because of the animals, and it looks white and fluffy.
  • Snow ball fights!
  • Snow; polar bears; people don’t live there so it is different; only partly discovered.
  • Want to follow in the footsteps of previous explorers.

The Arctic protects the world from warming – we need to look after it.

We must invest more in sustainable things.

Things that surprised you from Nanou’s talk:

  • They needed rifles for self-defence; seagulls falling out of the sky due to pollution; ran into a polar bear; illegal to kill a polar bear; difference between walrus on land and in water.
  • That you would have to swim naked and wear two pairs of socks!

Would you like to explore the poles?

  • Lots of us would – interesting animals; beautiful skies; fun; ice sculptures – a cool adventure!

Why is polar exploration important?

  • So we can know about them and how to keep them safe (wildlife), know how to help, can clean the land there.
  • To learn more about the wildlife, but also to learn about the impact of climate change.
  • Document the animals, study the rocks and the effects of climate change.

Some of their ‘concluding comments‘ can be found below:

Fun, educational and inspirational.

An interesting day with rich activities and an inspiring encounter with a real life explorer.

Interesting; useful; informative, inspiring; engaging; great opportunities throughout the day.


A fascinating and thoughtful insight into the Arctic.

Thank you so much for such a fantastic Arctic Adventure. We had a great day.

Our next virtual adventure to the Arctic is scheduled for Wednesday 6th December 2023.  Do get in touch if you wish to be involved; it would be great to have you on board (contact Rhianna Davies-Smith:

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