Antarctica Day was a big day for Bulgaria! They organised several events first based on a exchange with the schools. 3 talks were organised with kids at kindergartens. On top of that, 2 schools participated in the confection of Antarctica flags that were then sent to Antarctica where the researchers participating to the event took a photo of them.
To symbolize the importance of the day, a Polar Week was organised in the largest mall of the capital city, Sofia. During that week, people could participate to an Antarctic photography exhibition and at a polar scientific workshop. The latter consisted of several kiosks with interactive demonstrations in the fields of geology, mineralogy, zoology, geodesy and cartography among others. The event was opened by a speech from Prof. Christo Pimpirev – director of the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute. The audience interest was huge, with parents and children spending a total of two hours at the event. A member of the parliament of Bulgaria together with his family was among the visitors as well. Various prizes – ice-creams, wall calendars, pens, etc. were awarded to the children.
Finally, an APECS talk highlighting the goal of APECS was held at the Bulgarian Geological Society’s conference.
APECS-Italia organised a seminar at the Scientific campus of The Ca Foscari University of Venice. The seminar has the aim to introduce the students to the Antarctic world as well increase their attention and interest for this "strange continent". The seminar has been divided in 6 lectures, all of them presented by early polar career scientist. The first lecture was focused to explain the Antarctic and the Antarctic day as well the Antarctic treat. The other lectures were focused on the scientific activities and daily-life in Antarctica base on personal experience. In total there were about 1000 persons, 80 of them were students.
The Antarctic Day 2015 was held by APECS Spain on the 1st of December 2015. Early career scientists in polar science organized some events in Barcelona and Madrid.
In Barcelona, a couple of talks and as well as hands-on activities for students were carried out in several schools. In particular, at IES Joan Brossa and IES Jaume Balmes the talks were addressed to secondary school students, and they learnt about the Antarctic treaty, as well as about Antarctica in general, besides watching a video with images of Antarctica filmed by an APECS-Spain member. All of the participating students enjoyed the “The Antarctic flag” activity, where each child drew and painted a unique Antarctic flag while increasing their creativity and condensing on a paper their knowledge on Antarctica.
These flags will travel to Antarctica and will be shared with Antarctic scientists from all over the world! At Escola Sant Gregori, secondary school students learnt more about Antarctic sea ice and observed sea ice diatoms under the microscope; at this same school, as some of the 4-year-old students belong to the “Penguins class”, they received a talk combined with hands-on activities about Antarctica and, in particular, about penguins. They observed some real penguin feathers and krill samples, too! These children also drew flags for the “Antarctic flags activity”.
Two different events were organized in Madrid. In the morning, at the National Museum of Natural Science, around 70 children from 6th grade learnt about Antarctica through pictures and videos. Moreover, and thanks to the collaboration between the Museum and the “Friends of the museum” association, a small cycle of four outreach conferences about science and conservation, lichens, fauna and contamination of the white continent was organized. Furthermore, and together with the staff of the library of the museum, an exhibition of books from the firsts Antarctic expeditions were shown (for example, the Robert F. Scott British expedition “Terra Nova” and the second French Antarctic expedition led by Charcot). With the present books, APECS-Spain organizers wanted to show the adventurous nature of exploring a new continent, and the quality and amount of research done in Antarctica since the beginning of the 20th century. Finally, assistants had the chance to see authentic Antarctic biological material such as lichens or penguin feathers.
December 1st marked the internationally recognized ‘Antarctica Day’. This day celebrates the signing of the Antarctic treaty in 1959 and its importance throughout history. To promote the day, and organize an event for it, the UKPN teamed up with Our Spaces charity, and Dr Julie Hambrook Berkmann, director of Our Spaces. The UKPN participation was in organizing an activity: Antarctic Flags. For the event, we asked participating schools sending us their renditions of Antarctic flags. The flags will then hitch a ride all the way to Antarctica with polar researchers, and we will send proof of travel with a certificate and photos of their journey. Through this project, schoolchildren learn about the importance of Antarctica as a symbol of international cooperation through science, and the 1959 Antarctic Treaty that encapsulated this belief into law.
These flags were then sent south with volunteer flag-bearers, who were already travelling to the pristine continent for science, heritage, exploration or research purposes. From this journey, we send proof of travel with a certificate and photos of their journey. The age range of the pupils involved ranges from 4 to 16, and the nationality of these pupils includes British, Irish, Spanish, Egyptian, Arabic, American, Australian and many, many more!
This international event was celebrated across the globe. We had flags sent in from 38 schools in total to give a total of 284 flags, which travelled down south with 18 research teams to 13 different bases on the Antarctic continent, all showcasing the international reach of polar science taught and conducted. The schools had a chance to liaise with their paired researcher, and learn more about their research within the context of polar science.
As not all flag-bearers were travelling to the same place in the Antarctic, the flags have been distributed around a large proportion of the continent from Port Lockroy to the UK’s Halley research station, to the American McMurdo station, to deep in the field. One set of flags is even circumnavigating the continent on the JCR ship travelling around the Southern Ocean, as you are reading this newsletter!
Some of the fantastic flags are displayed below, showing the creativity of the pupils, and the many important features within the Antarctic. We would like to thank all teachers, pupils, parents, flag-bearers and committee members who participated in this event and made it the most successful Antarctic Flag campaign since its inception in date.