Summary of Antarctica: cool penguin science in action | NZ teachers, enrol in this LEARNZ virtual field trip

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Summary Page: Antarctica: cool penguin science in action
Term 2 starting 18 May 2020.



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Everyone loves penguins, the most recognised and loved species living in Antarctica. In 2020 you can come with us to live and work amongst a penguin colony larger than some cities!

Unlike previous LEARNZ field trips to Antarctica we will be filming this field trip in December 2019 and sharing it in May 2020. This means you can travel further away from Scott Base virtually, to work with penguin biologists during the breeding season.

Your Antarctic adventure will involve remote field work away from the comforts of New Zealand's Scott Base. You will stay in a small isolated hut at Cape Bird on Ross Island where your only connection with the outside world will be via radio communication with Scott Base. In May you will reconnect with these scientists to discover more about penguin behaviour and how changing conditions are affecting this population. This asynchronous field trip in May 2020 will allow students to see how scientists live and work in a remote area of Antarctica, while still being able to ask questions during live web conferences.

Your virtual journey will start on a Hercules aircraft landing on glacial ice in McMurdo Sound. On leaving the plane you will have to adjust to the brightness of a white landscape and an air temperature well below 0 degrees Celsius. When explorer James Ross sailed into the Ross Sea in 1841, he expected to find a frozen desert. He didn't expect to see seals, whales, fish, penguins and seabirds. How could this be? Where did these creatures find their food? On this trip you will join a New Zealand science team monitoring the Adélie penguin population. This research will help inform decisions on how to manage the Ross Sea Marine Protected Area. This area is one of the most pristine environments in the world, so it is the perfect place for scientists to observe the natural behaviours of species such as Adélie penguins. You will help scientists measure the weight of Adélie penguins, monitor nests and GPS tag birds to record foraging behaviour. This research aims to understand and forecast Adélie penguin population changes in response to a range of marine management and climate change scenarios.

Before flying by helicopter out to Cape Bird you will spend time at Scott Base learning how to survive in the harsh Antarctic environment. We'll look after the RAMS forms - all you need to do is enrol your class!

This will be the 15th LEARNZ field trip to Antarctica. The opportunities for student involvement and interaction during this trip will ensure their learning is very real.

Teachers can sign up an ambassador for this field trip via MyLEARNZ now so they can travel to Antarctica during the December part of the field trip.

In preparation for this field trip you will learn about:

  • Marine science in Antarctica
  • The Ross Sea Marine Protected Area
  • Adélie penguin behaviour and their importance as an indicator species
  • The role of sea ice in the Antarctic marine ecosystem
  • Antarctica as a place for scientific research
  • Penguin ecology and animal welfare
  • Maintaining biosecurity in Antarctica
  • Minimising human impacts in Antarctica
  • The importance of Antarctic science in helping us understand our dynamic world
  • Antarctic food webs
  • Climate Change and Antarctica

During the field trip you will:

  • See Shelley's tweets on twitter
  • Travel to Antarctica aboard a Hercules aircraft
  • Complete a survival training course
  • Take a helicopter flight out to Cape Bird at the northern end of Ross Island
  • See the home of 60,000 Adélie penguins
  • Weigh Adélie penguins
  • Measure the growth of Adélie penguin chicks
  • Band the flippers of Adélie penguin chicks
  • Help place GPS tags on penguins
  • Record foraging trips of penguins
  • Monitor penguin and skua behaviour

By the end of the field trip:

  • Students will have gained knowledge, skills and experience to understand how exploration and innovation create opportunities and challenges for people, places and environment (Social Studies Level 4).
  • Students will have gained understanding about the Nature of Science - understanding science, investigating in science, communicating in science, participating and contributing (Science Levels 2-4).

After the field trip:

  • Invite someone from your community who has been to Antarctica to share their experiences with your class.
  • Invite a marine scientist to share their knowledge about sea-life with your class.
  • Take action to reduce your carbon footprint and minimise human-induced climate change.

The LEARNZ Team think that joining NZASE and staying connected through NZ Science Teacher will help you become a better teacher of science.

Teacher comments

"My curriculum focus was supported fully by the LEARNZ Antarctica programme and also two NIWA scientists visiting the class in person helped no end to endorse what we had learned". Valerie Moratti from Havelock North Intermediate

"I thought LEARNZ did a great job of mixing up content that covered multiple curriculum areas in a logical and accessible way". Adrian Humm from Ruawai College.

"Having all of the Antarctica resources together makes it very easy for students to self-explore the parts of the topic they are especially interested in". Lisa O'Connor from St Teresa's School Featherston.

Go to more comments about Antarctic field trips.

Where you will go

You will travel over 3,800 kilometres south from Christchurch to Scott Base, New Zealand's only permanent research station in Antarctica. Why Antarctica? Antarctica is one of the last places in the world where scientists can study animals in a habitat still largely unmodified by people. Data on changes to penguin populations may reflect the impacts that humans and climate change, may be having on the marine ecosystem. Antarctica has a major effect on world oceans and weather patterns.

Through Antarctic Field Training and taking the 30-minute helicopter ride to Cape Bird where you will be living in a remote field camp, you will investigate how people working in Antarctica stay safe, maintain personal well-being and relationships with other people. You will take responsibility for reducing your impact upon the environment and help scientists monitor penguins. Temperatures in Antarctica in December can be as low as -20°C. You will need to be very well prepared!

Learning Areas/Levels

Health and Physical Education: Personal Health and Physical Development Levels 2-4, Relationships with Other People Levels 2-4, Healthy Communities and Environments Levels 2-4; Science: Nature of Science Levels 2-4, Material World Levels 2-4, Planet Earth and Beyond Levels 2-4, Earth and Space Science Levels 7-8; Social Sciences: Geography Level 6; Social Studies: Place and Environment Levels 2-5, Continuity and Change Levels 2-5

  • Vision, Values, Key Competencies, Principles, Literacy and Numeracy

    By their nature, LEARNZ field trips integrate with the higher levels of the NZ Curriculum. Participation encourages development of the Key Competencies around Thinking, Using language, symbols and text, Managing self, Relating to others, and Participating and contributing. Teachers indicate this in testimonials. LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Literacy, with opportunities to develop skills in Listening, Reading and Viewing and in Speaking, Writing and Presenting. More about LEARNZ as a Reading Resource and student writing opportunities with LEARNZ. Select LEARNZ field trips have support and activities for Numeracy, encouraging the development of skills in Number and Algebra, in Statistics and in Geometry and Measurement.

  • ESOL

    As well as providing visual and audio material and access to real experiences, LEARNZ links well to ESOL Principles, especially Principle 3 Maintain and make explicit the same learning outcomes for all the learners. How can I make the lesson comprehensible to all students? How can I plan the learning tasks so that all the students are actively involved? Do my students understand the learning outcomes? Principle 4 Begin with context embedded tasks which make the abstract concrete. How can I put these concepts into a concrete context?

  • What's in a Field Trip

    Every LEARNZ field trip has its own newly-built, self-contained web site ready for integration into your teaching and learning programme. Teacher Support has curriculum integration, resources, newsletters, support and evaluation. Prepare Students provides opportunities for student inquiry on two sets of image-rich background pages at reading levels 2 years apart, (students can click to have those pages read to them out loud), online interactive and other activities to check students' understanding, and a glossary. During the field trip there are daily additions such as a diary, video clips, profiles of the experts (ideal careers education), a photo gallery, live tweets on twitter, and ambassador (mascot) page updates. Live web conferences on our enterprise-level Zoom platform scales to enable multiple teachers to manage students putting prepared and spontaneous questions to experts (recorded for replay). After the field trip, teachers are encouraged to take further action with their class in the community or to go on a related field trip, or to invite a guest speaker, or to present what they have learned to a school assembly or wider group. Teachers also fill in an online evaluation (more about reflective practice), the field trip prize winner is drawn, and the final newsletter is sent. Content remains online for continued use.

  • How teachers use LEARNZ

    View some of over 1,000 teacher comments in testimonials. There are two main ways teachers use a LEARNZ virtual field trip with their class. Firstly, a LEARNZ field trip is ideally an immersive, engaging, synchronous, online learning experience with real-time components and a myriad of opportunities for teachers and students. Secondly, and less ideal but still effective, a LEARNZ field trip can be used as a retrospective experience where the resources such as photos, text, activities, videos and audioconferences/web conferences comprise a unique collection of authentic, contemporary New Zealand teaching and learning material.

  • What Now

    Not Registered with LEARNZ? Are you a New Zealand Registered or Provisionally-Registered Teacher on the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand website? Register free with LEARNZ Now.

    Already Registered with LEARNZ and activated your account? Log in to your personal MyLEARNZ Control Panel and then enrol your classes at no cost in field trips. Note: Enrolment is only needed for the current and future year's field trips.

    Registered but need help? Check your email for activation instructions - contact us if the message did not make it to your email inbox. Log on to MyLEARNZ. Go to Getting Started.

    Teachers - Lost your password? Recover it here.

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Shelley the LEARNZ Field Trip Teacher.

Meet Shelley, your LEARNZ Field Trip Teacher

Inquiry Topics: adaptations, adaptations of birds, adaptations of marine life, Adélie penguins, Antarctica, banding, biodiversity, biosecurity, birds, carbon cycle, changing values, climate, climate change, coastal ecosystems, coastal habitat, data gathering, ecology, ecosystems, eggs, environment, fish, flightless birds, food webs, freezing, future focus, gadgets, genetic variation and change, GPS, guardianship, habitat, human impacts, ice, life cycle, location based information, marine communities, marine ecosystems, marine environment, marine research, marine science, monitoring change, oceans, Offshore, penguins, physical activity, population, predators, protected environments, risk management, risks, Ross Ice Shelf, Ross Sea, science, scientific research, Scott Base, sea, sea birds, sea ice, skua, statistics, sustainability, technology, temperature, values, viewpoints, weather

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