Amid worrying polarization of views on climate change, classrooms link live to real science in the Arctic

Last week, the World Meteorological Organisation published its annual report on the state of the global climate, confirming previously released figures showing that 2016 was the warmest year on record. Yet, attitudes to climate change remain markedly divided.

Research shows that those who are “science curious” are more likely to be able to sort fact from fiction. To this end, a team in the Arctic has been working with schools across the world to bring real science to the classroom.

From the team’s base on the island of Svalbard, the visual signs of climate change are obvious. Glaciers are in retreat and there is no sea ice in the nearby fjord, while February temperatures have been over 6 degrees Celsius above average. The Arctic works like an early warning system dramatic changes occurring there can help predict further impact on the rest of the planet.

It is the combination of being able to speak live to active scientists and expeditions from an area markedly affected by climate change that helps students develop a more curious and critical approach to science.

Live directly from the Arctic

Kids connected via Skype with Jamie from Svalbard
Between 7-16 March 2017 over 10,000 young people of all ages participated in the XL Catlin Arctic Live event. This was an exciting learning experience connecting schools from five continents with members of an expedition team based at the UK Arctic Research Station. From the comfort of their classrooms, students interacted via one-to-one Skype calls and YouTube live broadcasts with the expedition team in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, the most northerly permanent settlement in the world.

I have always wanted to see a real-life explorer. I would like to be one“, said a 6-year-old from the Recreation Road Infant School in Norwich after a Skype video meeting with Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop, Director of the UK-based social enterprise Digital Explorer and teacher turned expedition educator.

There’s nothing more exciting for kids in school than getting to see with their own eyes what this fragile environment looks like and hearing from real scientists what they go through during their expeditions. We’re bringing that to life using live chats, virtual reality and new technologies. And by talking to curious minds from the earliest ages, we effectively develop critical thinking and scientific curiosity.”, he explains.

Now in its fourth year, Arctic Live uses the latest communications technology and inspiring education resources to help children get a closer look at this fragile environment and meet the scientists researching vital data on environmental change.

Students connecting with Jamie from Svalbard
We are not always aware of these problems and it is important to consider them. Learning directly from a researcher is a fascinating experience. She has encouraged us so much!”, said a high school student from Estudio School in Madrid. His class connected with Dr Ceri Lewis, an experienced marine biologist at the University of Exeter researching how environmental change and pollution affects marine animals.

A continuous journey

Since 2014, over 25,000 students across 400 schools globally have spoken to polar scientists and explorers based on Svalbard, and in the UK and Norway. They discovered the real science behind this unique environment and found out the challenges of expedition leaders, marine geophysicists, biologists, polar guides and world record holders.

It is a privilege to do this kind of work. I get to share with all sorts of students from all over the world my love for and knowledge of one of the most beautiful and rapidly changing places on the planet.”, said Dr Bianca Perren, paleoecologist at the British Antarctic Survey, who has spent the last 15 years working in the polar regions investigating how ecosystems respond to past and ongoing climate change.

Teachers continue the learning journey by accessing free resources that are developed in collaboration with scientists working at the forefront of these issues. 360 degree virtual reality media, on platforms such as Google Expeditions and YouTube, continue to bring this environment to life.

Arctic Live is part of XL Catlin’s Oceans Education programme which focuses on increasing ocean literacy around the world. It is a collaboration between XL Catlin, Digital Explorer and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), that operates the UK Arctic Research Station supported by NERC Arctic Office.

Photo albums available on Facebook and Twitter.

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My Voice-My School is returning

my voice my school

Digital Explorer’s My Voice-My School is returning for the 2016/17 academic year. The project connects Palestine Refugee students from Syria with students in Europe to debate and advocate for a quality education for all. We are looking for classes at secondary schools in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden to take part in this year’s programme.

My Voice-My School is a joint response by Digital Explorer, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and Skype in the classroom to the degradation of education caused by the Syria crisis.

For more information, watch the CNN report on the project below and visit the My Voice-My School website.

To get your school involved in the My Voice-My School 2016/17 project, register your interest now by emailing

Get involved in Submarine STEM!

Submarine stem

We have an exciting new submarine-based STEM programme in the pipeline and we’re looking for KS2 and KS3 Science and Computing teachers to be part of developing the education resources. The one day workshops will be held at the Royal Geographical Society, London and we’ll pay £100 plus travel expenses* for your time.

Submarine STEM Design workshop on 3rd June 10am – 4pm
Creative session to frame lesson concepts and ideas based on deep sea submersible exploration.

Submarine STEM Development workshop on 1st July 10am – 4pm
Development session to create draft resources and ideas for multimedia resources.

Please indicate which session you would like to attend with a brief bio and your interest in the programme by emailing us at

*travel expenses up to £80 max

Oceans education subject knowledge (6 of 6)

This is number six in our follow-up posts to to XL Catlin Oceans Teacher Academy, sharing oceans education subject knowledge with teachers.

Ocean acidification is one of the processes threatening marine life and is included in the Coral Oceans and Frozen Oceans resources. This video shows two simple experiments for your classroom to show the process of ocean acidification and its impact on marine life…

Oceans education subject knowledge (5 of 6)

This is number five in our follow-up posts to to XL Catlin Oceans Teacher Academy, sharing oceans education subject knowledge with teachers.

The Incredible Edible Polyp activity is designed to be used in oceans education, and specifically with the Coral Oceans primary scheme of work, but has proved incredibly popular with all age groups and teachers alike. Here’s a video on how to make your own edible polyps with your class and a little twist on the classic anatomy lesson…

Oceans education subject knowledge

Here are two videos to introduce your classes to the work of the Catlin Ocean Expeditions. The first is a highlight video including clips and photos from the Catlin Arctic Survey in 2011:

The second is a Day in the Life video filmed with the Catlin Seaview Survey Shallow Reef team in the Bahamas in 2013 to give you a taste for a day in the life of a marine biologist:

Oceans education subject knowledge (3 of 6)

As a follow-up to the XL Catlin Oceans Teacher Academy, here is one of the videos that is a great introduction to teaching oceans in the classroom and to brush up on a bit of subject knowledge.

This video from the great team at One World One Ocean is a brilliant introduction to the ecosystem goods and services that the ocean provides and a summary of the potential and current human impact on our marine environment…

Oceans education subject knowledge

When ocean currents go bad and paleoclimatologists become Hollywood heros, the trailer for The Day After Tomorrow and indeed the opening 10 minutes of the film if you can get your hands on a copy of the film, make an exciting and extremely exaggerated introduction to the world of thermohaline circulation and the impact of the Arctic ice on the gulf stream…

Catlin Ocean Academy for Teachers (follow-up 1 of 6)

Dr Helen Findlay helped with this great animation on ocean acidification by pupils at the Ridgeway School in Plymouth. We hope you meet a great range of plasticine characters who can help explain ocean acidification and its impacts to your classroom.

If you think nice things, write nice things…

Came back from lunch today, to find this lovely email waiting for me. After a fairly boring time dealing with problems with the website, it was back up just in time. It takes so little time to write a note like this and gave me a nice big smile. It’s easy to forget sometimes that there are actually people working hard to put so much wonderful and inspirational content on the web and this has reminded me to write to people when I see wonderful projects online!

Dear Sir,
I had the chance to visit your website and your project.
I have been amazed by the quality of the idea (exploration with edu purposes and free) as well as those of the resources.
I’m an italian science teachers working full time for a Science Centre in Italy called MUSE Museum of Sciences

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