Introduction and materials
This 'Continent' unit will enable students to appreciate the uniqueness of Antarctica, while developing skills in critical analysis, working scientifically, literacy, language and arts skills. The activities will lead to an understanding of the nature of Antarctica, and of how and why it is such a different place from Australia.
Sun and earth
Students can experiment to discover why the curvature of the earth causes the seasons and why such extreme seasons are experienced in Antarctica.
Students will research the pre-history of Antarctica and how it formed the centre of an ancient mid-latitude supercontinent called Gondwana.
Students will discover that Antarctica is the coldest and driest place on the earth, why this is and why climate data recorded there is so critical to help us forecast climate change.
Students will discover how conditions can become truly life-threatening in Antarctica when wind combines with cold, which happens frequently in Antarctica's coastal regions.
Students can get a good idea of the profile of Antarctica and how it is the highest continent on earth by drawing a cross section of the continent. This will show them what it would be like if they walked across Antarctica in a straight line.
Snow and ice falls on the interior of the Antarctic continent. The weight of the ice slowly pushes it downhill. This moving ice is called a glacier.
Icebergs are fascinating structures with wondrous beauty and power. Students can investigate what icebergs are made from, why four-fifths of an iceberg is underwater and research how icebergs float and melt.
Sea ice
Each winter the surface of a large area of the Southern Ocean freezes, forming a sea ice cover that surrounds Antarctica. When sea ice forms, salty cold water sinks to the ocean depths and influences the world's currents.
Snow flakes
There are an infinite variety of snowflakes. Wilson Bentley, an American farmer (1865-1931), spent most of his life examining and photographing snowflakes and never found two alike.
The flickering shimmering colours of the aurora must be the most spectacular of heavenly events, especially in the darkness of midwinter. Students will explore both the science and beauty of these phenomena.
This page was last modified on July 3, 2014.