Grades K–2 Activities
EXPLORE ENVIRONMENTS & ADAPTATIONS
Students will explore the environment of Antarctica and identify how animals, including humans survive in Antarctica's extreme environment.BACKGROUND FOR EDUCATOR
NYS Science Core Curriculum
LE Standard 4, 3.1c: In order to survive in their environment, plants and animals must be adapted to that environment.
Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent. It is the coldest place on Earth with temperatures that can fall below -57 degrees Celsius (-70°F). Winds that can reach over 322 kilometers per hour (200 mph) make it the windiest. Most life is concentrated on the shoreline and surrounding waters, although some microbes thrive in unexpected places like dry valleys and ice-capped brine lakes. The few species, including penguins, seals, seabirds, and tundra vegetation, that can live in Antarctica have features that help them survive extreme conditions. For example, penguins and seals have a thick layer of insulating fat called blubber.
For humans, living and working in Antarctica's extreme cold presents challenges. They must wear extreme weather gear to protect themselves against frostbite, ice, severe winds, and snow blindness.BEFORE YOUR VISIT
Plan how your students will explore Race to the End of the Earth. In the exhibition, students will use their student worksheets to investigate how penguins and humans survive in the harsh environment of Antarctica.
Distribute copies of the student worksheets to students before coming to the Museum. You may want to review the worksheets with students to make sure they understand what they are to do.
Class Discussion: How Do We Dress for the Weather?
Invite students to describe the weather they experience throughout the year. Ask:
Tell students that Antarctica is the coldest, windiest place on Earth. Display photos of people working in Antarctica. (You can search for and download photos from photolibrary.usap.gov) Ask:
Have students imagine that they will go to Antarctica to study penguins.
For older students: Have students work in groups to come up with a list of what clothing they would bring. Call on groups to share their lists and compare their items with other groups.
For younger students: Create a poster in the shape of a suitcase. Ask students to name things they would pack to go to Antarctica. Have them draw and cut out pictures of what they would bring and paste them on the suitcase.
Activity: How Do Penguins Stay Warm?
Explain that some animals live on Antarctica. Ask: How do you think they are able to live in such a cold place? (Answers will vary.) Tell students they will watch a video about one Antarctic animal, the Emperor penguin. As they watch, have students identify how the penguins stay warm, keep their young warm, and find food.
Show this video from National Geographic Kids.
After showing the video, have students share their ideas with the class. Elicit that one way Emperor penguins stay warm is by huddling together. Create a class huddle. Call on volunteers to walk like penguins and try to find the warmest spot. Ask: Which penguins in the huddle will stay warmest? (Answer: Penguins in the center) Tell students they will have the opportunity of seeing a penguin diorama when they visit the Race to the End of the Earth exhibition.DURING YOUR VISIT
Just beyond the theater, students can "Meet the Men." As students go through the exhibition, encourage them to pay close attention to the decisions the British and Norwegian teams made about clothing, transportation, and timing, and to the consequences of those choices.
Race to the End of the Earth Exhibition
4th floor (30-45 minutes)
On their student worksheets, have students draw and label a picture of the penguin.
Visit the Living in Antarctica Today display near the end of the exhibition. Have students examine the clothing worn by scientists living and working in Antarctica. Call on students to suggest other items they might add to their list of what to bring or to add to their suitcase. Have students note the number of layers of clothing people in Antarctica have to wear. Ask them, if they were to live in Antarctica, how long it would take them to get dressed.
Stop by the brightly colored igloo satellite cabin used by scientists working in remote locations. Have students share what they think living in the cabin would be like. On their student worksheets, have students draw a picture showing polar gear and/or housing.Millstein Hall of Ocean Life
1st floor (15-20 minutes)
Discussion: Survival in Antarctica
Talk about the Museum experience with your class. Ask: What did you learn about penguins? (Answers will vary.) How do they live in Antarctica? (Answers may include: They have features that enable them to live in the harsh climate.) Have students revisit the list of items or polar suitcase they made before the Museum visit. Ask: What did you learn about polar clothing? (Answers may include: It is designed for extreme cold and windy conditions.) What other items would you now include in your list of clothing to take to Antarctica? (Answers will vary.)
Activity: Rubber Blubber Gloves
Activity: Create a Polar Creature
Antarctica by Helen Cowcher
Penguins by Seymour Simon
The Emperor's Egg by Marten Jenkins
Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition by Caroline AlexanderONLINE RESOURCES
Antarctica: The Farthest Place Close to Home
National Geographic Kids
United States Antarctic Program