education.govt.nz

Antarctic Academy provides cross-curricular learning

Issue: Volume 99, Number 18

Posted: 5 November 2020
Reference #: 1HADr9

An online cross-curricular programme designed to inspire the next generation of explorers to consider the plight of Antarctica and its unique wildlife has broadened the horizons of a group of Christchurch students.

A Year 8 class from St Joseph’s School visited the International Antarctic Centre as part of the Antarctic Academy programme.

A Year 8 class from St Joseph’s School visited the International Antarctic Centre as part of the Antarctic Academy programme.

A class of Year 7 and 8 students from St Joseph’s School, Papanui, were the first students to graduate from the Antarctic Academy’s online learning programme. 

The STEAM-based, curriculum-aligned online programme offered by the International Antarctic Centre is cross-curricular, covering science, geography, history, biology, engineering and other subjects. Class teacher Alice Johns says that the initial Antarctica focus of her class was on literacy.

“We have had massive success in Year 7 and 8 using articles and non-fiction text of high interest. It was successful last year and equally successful this year.

“We started doing the literacy part of things at school and then when we went into lockdown, we moved online and then continued it when we went back to school, so it was both blended and remote. The online programme was really engaging; the kids wanted to complete the variety of online activities,” says Alice.

The Antarctic Academy programme incorporates elements of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, maths) and Social Science subjects, as well as being literacy based.

Drawing from the individual strengths and bodies of knowledge of each of the disciplines can be challenging. However, Alice says the integrated approach worked well, with each discipline complementing each other and the programme aligning well with the curriculum.

‘How I belong’

A subject like Antarctica provides a range of opportunities for cross-curricular learning, says Alice. 

“Our overarching concept for the term was ‘How I belong’. We looked at how we belong in our classroom, in our school and then we were able to build up to how New Zealand belongs on a world scale; and its relationship to Antarctica.

“It flowed really nicely because, in our second semester, we are learning about inspiring people or people who have stepped up. We have looked at Sir Edmund Hillary and his involvement in Antarctica and also his work in the Himalayas.”

The St Joseph’s students designed some of their own activities based on information from the International Antarctic Centre. 

“For example, we got information about a research base in Antarctica. The kids had to do some brain-storming and design their own research base. They went through the technology design process including researching and brainstorming,” says Alice.

Buckled up and ready to go on the Hagglund Field Trip are Year 7 students: Luca, Aaliyah, Seyara and Su Bin.   

Buckled up and ready to go on the Hagglund Field Trip are Year 7 students: Luca, Aaliyah, Seyara and Su Bin.  

Antarctica and Google Classroom 

Alice had been using Google Classroom and, when schools closed, all Year 5–8 classes began to use it. She says it wasn’t hard to incorporate the Antarctic Academy programme with Google Classroom.

“I could upload a piece of reading with a follow-up activity and we structured it quite loosely because different children had different access to things. Some of them had their reading books at home and they would write answers, do drawings or whatever the activity was in their books and then they would take a photo of it and upload it to Google Classroom. Or they could attach a Google Doc, or we could copy a Google Doc for each of them, which they could write on and submit.”

Popular topics

Popular topics included learning about the geography of Antarctica and animal adaptation. 

“Penguins are cute and a good buy-in for the students. Lots of them really enjoyed learning about the bases and how people live when they are in Antarctica,” says Alice.

“We have some children who are particularly interested in the science aspect. We learnt a lot about how they use Antarctica to test different things that they use on Mars; the kids were quite interested in that. It flowed quite naturally from the geography of Antarctica to this new learning.”

Year 7 student David enjoys the view from the Hägglund all-terrain amphibious vehicle   

Year 7 student David enjoys the view from the Hägglund all-terrain amphibious vehicle  

Student feedback

St Joseph’s students enjoyed remote learning about Antarctica. Here are some of their comments:

  • I enjoyed the videos because they were fun to watch and if you didn’t understand it you could always go back and watch it again.
  • I liked watching the videos on Jamie’s World on Ice and answering the Google forms. 
  • I enjoyed the Antarctica Kahoots because it was challenging and it was a fun way to remember what we had learnt.
  • I enjoyed researching independently for information reports.

Online resources

“We were impressed with how thoroughly the students adapted to receiving online instruction and how they could apply their learning: from building Antarctic bases, to understanding the intention behind the Antarctic Treaty, to the increasing issue of tourism,” said International Antarctic Centre Education Manager Miranda Satterthwaite. 

Miranda says the Antarctic Academy is enjoying strong demand for its in-centre and online programmes and has plans to further this programme.

The Antarctic Studies online programme, which focuses on Years 5–13, was trialled at St Joseph’s School before being used by Squawk Squad to support an eight-week ‘Expedition to Antarctica to learn about Climate Change’ programme. More than 4,000 learners engaged in this programme nationwide.

The International Antarctic Centre is located in Christchurch, one of only five cities in the world known as a gateway to Antarctica. See iceberg.co.nz(external link) for information and resources about Antarctic Academy programmes, or contact education@iceberg.co.nz.

Information and resources about Antarctic Academy(external link) programmes

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 10:49 am, 5 November 2020

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