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  4. ASPIRES Case Study 8: Antarctica Project (Year 8)

ASPIRES Case Study 8: Antarctica Project (Year 8)


Project on Antarctica in Year 8 

School: The London Nautical School, Lambeth (All boys school, state funded)

Teacher: Catherine Wilberforce (

Overview:  These lessons are part of the Year 8 course about ‘Ecosystems’ and are designed to get pupils thinking about climate change in Antarctica and to find out about the science stations based down there. We had a visitor into school to talk about their recent expedition to Antarctica, we watched the Werner Herzog ‘Encounters at the end of the World’ DVD in part and we discussed the different jobs scientists had at the base camp. We were also invited onto the ‘Ice Breaker’ ship (that was moored on the Thames) to meet Sir Ranulph Fiennes and to learn about ‘The Coldest Journey’ expedition he was planning.

Type of lesson: Classroom-based 

Why did you do this?

We wanted to get pupils (and teachers) to start thinking about the wide range of careers out there and to make lessons more relevant to the real world. Career-centric learning can help pupils visualise uses for the science they learn in the classroom and speaking to a real human being helps pupils have an understanding of what the jobs entail. It also allows pupils to see visitors as human and with personalities, likes and dislikes but all with a passion for their role in the workplace. 

We wanted the pupils to engage with the topic by looking at one specific ecosystem and the project just grew from there. Once we started getting in contact with STEMnet and also asking other teachers about resources we started to find out that there was a lot going on with Antarctica and we could do a lot with the topic especially around careers. 

Summary of Activities

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Lesson 1: Background lesson into ecosystems and our concerns about the climate change in Antarctica – leading on to lesson about needing scientists to ‘engineer solutions’ to the problem. Discussion and watching of clips of Werner Herzog film about working at the science laboratory in Antarctica.   

Lesson 2: Visit from person who has been to Antarctica (contact details: Roussel De Carvalho at London Met. University) 

Lesson 3: Use of Key Stage 3 pack from BBC about Antarctica (as part of the teaching package for schools that developed after the BBC wildlife programs about Antarctica) and the Arctic Homework: Finding out about Scott of the Antarctic. 

Timing: 3 x 50 minute lessons 


Materials: Pens, paper, Computer room for Lesson 1 and Lesson 3 is preferable (for research and write-up) but not essential.

Resource pack is ‘PACK 2 – Scott of the Antarctic’ from Oxford KS3 Science. You can visit their website or email 

External links:  

Main resource used:

Other available resources: 

Learning and Other Outcomes/Evaluation

The pupils fed back that they really enjoyed the experience and they particularly liked meeting the scientist that went to Antarctica. They also really got into the story of Scott and we did lots of group work to aid discussion on this. I think that we would definitely run a project like this again because it involved different disciplines in Science and this was reflected in the careers that we came across during the project. They generally find exploration exciting so it was a good way to ‘hook’ the pupils in to the learning and wider aim of getting them to think about careers in Science. 

Curriculum Links

KS3 Ecology modules, Geography (Cross-curricular opportunities) and links with Global Warming (KS4 CORE Science) 

Integrating Careers Information into the Lessons

Make sure you are explicit about the people involved in working in Antarctica and also about how people, particularly the generation we are teaching, are going to have to engineer solutions. Discuss job titles and types of careers that can be had (and some that haven’t even been invented yet) that will be on the front line of ‘fixing’ global warming. 

Top Tips

  • Get as many people involved as possible, this can be as big (or as small) as you want it to be. One year we did do a ‘parents evening’ where pupils and parents were invited to see all the work the Year 8s had been doing on their Antarctica projects and to watch presentations by the pupils.
  • Organisation of a visitor to the school is key (You will need to coordinate this; ask friends, colleagues if they know someone! Or your local university may be able to help you and also ask STEM ambassadors.)