Station buildings

The coloured buildings comprising Mawson station
Mawson station (Photo: Wayne Papps)
Small hut being built into the side of a mountain rock wall

Students can use maps to consider building locations, lifestyle, the distances between buildings and the topography of settlements in Antarctica.

Give students a copy of the Mawson station buildings and structures map [PDF].

  • Using this map, students could answer the following questions:
    • Why do you think the buildings are in the locations they are? (An example would be the fuel depots located a long way away in case of fire, an ever-present danger in the dry atmosphere in Antarctica.)
    • What do these buildings show about the type of activities engaged in at the station?
    • What sort of lifestyle would the residents of Mawson station have?
  • Use the map to work out the distances between buildings, for example, the distance between the main living quarters (SMQ), and the following locations: Wombat (the Science building), the helicopter hangar, the Operations building, the Store, the incinerator, Cosray building and so on.
  • As an extension activity, students can look at the topography of the site on the Mawson station area map [PDF]. They can determine the number of small hills on the site and make a model of the settlement making sure the topographical detail is correct.
  • To get a real feel for the station students can explore Mawson station. They can pan through a full 360°, and zoom in on individual station buildings. An experience not to be missed! [Requires Quicktime for Windows. It's not necesary to download iTunes, give your e-mail address or sign up to an Apple mailing list in order to download this software; but you need to deselect these options on the screen as they're set by default.]
  • It's also well worth a visit to the Mawson station page for lots of photos and background information, including the real-time webcam photos.
  • Give students a design brief for building a hut that will withstand and provide shelter from the harsh Antarctic weather conditions, particularly wind and snow ingress.
    • Working in groups, students can draw a plan, giving the measurements and explaining features of the design that will make the structure warm, strong, durable and impenetrable to snow and wind. They can estimate the costs to build it.
    • You can then have them build it (either as a model, or actual size if you have the space) using a variety of materials (such as alfoil, foam, tape, wool, plastic wood, papier mache, metal etc.). The different designs can then be assessed for their relative success. Background information on field huts and refuges.
This page was last modified on January 23, 2014.