On the 8th Feb, 82 pupils from 7 primary schools across Gloucestershire came together for a fun-filled and creative day looking at the impact of climate change on the Arctic, and what we can do about it. The Arctic Adventure was kindly hosted by High School for Girls.

The day started with pupils putting together a jigsaw of their destination for the day – the Arctic. They then watched the WWW Arctic film to give them a taste of where they were headed to. Each school then took part in 4 sessions throughout the day:

Sarah Shaw took pupils into the world of the Arctic through the medium of dance/drama.  They were transported to the Arctic, becoming true explorers as they set off over the snowfields and across the great glaciers.  On the way, they met the wildlife on land and in the sea and came to appreciate how their habitats are under threat due to climate change.

Professional chef, Kathryn Minchew, used cookery to investigate the ‘carbon footprint’ of various ingredients used to make cookies – the distance that each ingredient had to travel, whether the packaging could be recycled etc. Pupils divided into small groups to make biscuit dough and stamped out a footprint to bake (which were very yummy!). The students then discussed if they could change the ingredients to reduce the carbon footprint of the biscuits (without losing the taste!) before contemplating how we all might reduce our global footprint including increasing recycling.

WWW used art to look at climate change in more depth, including what it is, what causes it and the three, main, global impacts before focusing on different landscapes within the Arctic (polar deserts, tundra and the taiga forest) and what is happening to them, along with the animals that live there.  The children became familiar with key terms, such as permafrost and greenhouse gases, and were particularly fascinated by the ‘pizzly’ or ‘grolar’ (the result of a polar bear mating with a grizzly bear as the habitats of both change due to global warming). The pupils drew pictures of Arctic landscapes and animals to place on the giant, green cardboard heart to ‘#ShowTheLove’ for aspects of the region that they do not want to disappear.  The heart was added to as the day progressed and looked fantastic after the final group had placed their contributions.  Explorer, Digby Rawlins, then shared a video and talked about his trip to Greenland, reinforcing the adjustments communities are having to make as a result of climate change, gave a personal insight into what it is like to travel to the Arctic and answered questions posed by the pupils and teachers.

‘I hope the icebergs don’t melt because then lots of animals will lose their habitat.’

‘I don’t want to see any animal or aspect of nature go. It is too beautiful to get rid of and it must be preserved.’

Emma Espley led the Geography and Computing session that considered two fundamental questions:

  • What are the challenges facing the Arctic today?
  • What will the Arctic look like in the future?

Pupils’ first task was to access Google Earth and type in ‘North Pole’. This took many to a pub/restaurant called The North Pole within the UK, which had them rather puzzled for a minute or two! Emma then explained that there are actually four different North Poles. Pupils then ‘flew’ to North Pole, a small city in the state of Alaska, USA, then travelled to Kaffeklubben Island (what a great name!), just off the coast of Greenland and thought to be the northernmost area of land in the Arctic. Next, pupils paired up and were given a laminated card with two satellite images of the Arctic ice extent, taken of the same place at the same time of year, but a few years apart. They were challenged to see how many differences they could spot. The third activity involved small groups sorting several facts about climate change and the Arctic into a venn diagram of ‘true’, ‘false’ or ‘not sure’, with the last activity then a race to match various images of the Arctic with their appropriate captions. Pupils were quizzed at the end to see if there were any images that surprised them and why.

A huge thanks to all involved – a great team effort to make it such an exciting day for the schools. Feedback about the day was extremely positive, and we look forward to our next Arctic adventure!

‘Each activity offered the children a different learning experience and kept them all engaged really well.’

‘A really good day – we all enjoyed it.  It’s made us think what a difference we can make to help reduce climate change.’

‘The range of activities kept the children interested and practical input.  Got the messages in a child-friendly way.’

‘Dance session – wow!’

‘Lovely, informative day!  Thank-you!’

‘We’ll be looking at what we can do in our school environment to help.”