We were thrilled to be invited by Techniquest to their @STEMLearningUK #PolarExplorerProgramme event on Tuesday 24 April 2018. And what a super fun day it was delivering activities with 400 children from primary schools across south Wales!
WWW Trustee and enthusiastic Arctic Adventurer Neill Williams gave pupils a whistle-stop tour of an Arctic camp – with his tent and kit set up as it has been on his many expeditions to the Geomagnetic and Magnetic North Poles. Teachers dressed up in full polar explorer gear whilst pupils crawled through the tent, looking at the cooking equipment and testing out the sleeping area, as well as seeing the skis, poles and sled complete with harness. Neill told tales of his expeditions, explaining how you have to learn to live with the climate or as the Inuit say the ‘rhythms of the land’, and showed children some Caribou antlers, and pieces of polar bear and husky fur. Neill also had pictures of the tent in action in the Arctic as well as a map plotting one of his expeditions. He told pupils about his UK based training and explained about the clothes and equipment you need for polar expeditions.
In the 25 years that Neill has been travelling to the Arctic he has witnessed ice thickness almost halve, and areas normally perfect to travel over become unstable, and he’s even gone through the ice himself in recent years. Friends of his rowed to the Magnetic Pole in July when 25 years ago this would have been impossible, but much of the multi-year ice has now gone. Despite this when a storm hits it’s more extreme than he recalls from the early days. He has noticed that wildlife has been forced to migrate and clash with the communities in search of food. The people making up the communities have changed with more natural resources now being exploited as a result of climate change. In less than 60 years the lives of the indigenous populations have changed beyond recognition and it’s almost impossible to hold onto their culture and traditions.
With this important message of melting ice and loss of traditional livelihoods, WWW staff member Vicky talked to children about how the animals and people living in the Arctic are affected by climate change. Pupils were amazed by the breadth of wildlife and landscapes in the Arctic, and had the unique opportunity to view a short film made specially for them by children in the Yamal Peninsula. The video clip showed what life is like for children living in that part of the world, and we talked about how life has changed for indigenous people and the region’s discovery of Mammoths over recent years!
Classes then got the opportunity to have their photo taken with our life-sized cardboard polar bear!
Thank you Techniquest, we had a great time and were honoured to deliver activities alongside such brilliant polar research scientists!