Antarctica: A Journey of Discovery

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Antarctica's Dry Valleys. Source: NSF.

Antarctica: A Journey of Discovery

Useful to Teachers Across Disciplines

caption Niwot Ridge Research Site. Source: NSF; Credit: John W. Marr. The National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs has produced a full-color, extensively illustrated booklet that highlights the variety of cutting-edge science conducted in Antarctica at the three year-round stations the United States maintains on the continent. The booklet is available on-line. It is aimed primarily at a middle-school audience and is designed to be useful as supplementary material for classroom teachers in a variety of subjects. Although the booklet touches on natural sciences as diverse as astronomy and astrophysics, biology, geology, meteorology and oceanography, the content also could lend itself to teaching geography and the social sciences.

Antarctica: A Journey of Discovery, was written and designed by the NSF-funded, Lincoln, Neb.-based Antarctic geological Drilling (ANDRILL) project, a multinational collaboration comprised of more than 200 scientists, students, and educators from five nations, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Antarctica: A Journey of Discovery [PDF Format] provides a basic introduction to subjects as diverse as the food web of the Southern Ocean—which includes penguins, orcas and shrimp-like krill; the use of ice cores to establish a climate record extending back nearly a million years; state-of-the-art particle physics as carried out at the South Pole; and how Antarctic geology yields clues to our planet's past and its development. The booklet also includes a brief history of Antarctic exploration (see more about this exploration in the Encyclopedia of Earth), both historical and modern, and material about how modern-day researchers prepare to work on the world's coldest, highest and driest continent.

The content focuses on examples of science that are carried out at the individual U.S. Antarctic Program stations; Palmer, on the Antarctic Peninsula; McMurdo, on Ross Island; and Amundsen-Scott at the geographic South Pole. Through its Office of Polar Programs, NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, which manages all U.S. scientific research and related logistics on the southernmost continent and aboard ships in the Southern Ocean.

Designed as a "non-fiction book accessible to anyone at a middle-school reading level," the document should be equally useful for teaching about real-world Polar science or in helping to teach reading by providing young students with engaging content.

ANDRILL'S objective is to drill back in time to recover a history of ancient environmental changes to help guide our understanding of the speed, the size, and the frequency of past glacial and interglacial changes in the Antarctic region. Knowing how much and how rapidly the climate changed in the past is expected to provide important clues as to how climate change may affect the globe today.

Antarctica: A Journey of Discoveryis available for download in PDF format on the ANDRILL Website.

April 18, 2011

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(2011). Antarctica: A Journey of Discovery. Retrieved from


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