Blog

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.

Class Skype – a great way to speak at schools

It was wonderful to take part in a Skype call with Middleham Primary last week to talk about life in the polar regions. The wonderful Catherine Monaghan is doing wonderful things with her Year 3 & 4 class to bring learning alive for the pupils, amongst other things they are building an igloo in the classroom using old milk bottles, which looks amazing… the kind of teacher I wish I’d had.

Using Skype to talk to a school is something that I have done when on expedition, but never when I have been in the UK. Normally, I have gone into schools to talk directly to classes. It was a great way to interact with young people, without having to take a long time out of the ‘office’. Talking to schools is one of the highlights of my job, but the travel time to and from schools limits the amount of schools that I can visit. So, if there are more schools out there who would like to have someone who has been on expedition speak via Skype to their class, then I would be delighted to look at how we can make better use of this technology when the team is back in the UK.

Catherine put up a wonderful video of the class reflecting on what they had learnt and to my surprise I have also become a scientist!

I like to think that I am getting better at polar and ocean science, thanks to the wonderful support of Helen and Ceri, who have held my hand through being a novice a year or so ago. I even have a ‘beaker’ (polar slang for a scientist) award to prove it.

A great use of technology and thank you to Catherine (Mrs M) and Class 2 at Middleham for a great Skype chat and also to Al Humphreys for helping to put it all together.

Arctic Expedition on BBC


One of my roles on the Catlin Arctic Survey was to film for this documentary coming out on the BBC and Open University this week. It was quite nerve-wracking shooting my first film, with the added pressures of the Arctic environment and the fact that it is to be broadcast on the BBC. I haven’t seen it yet, and look forward to reliving the expedition through Victoria’s eyes.

Broadcast details
This weekend Dr Victoria Hill presents a BBC Earth Reporters documentary about the Catlin Arctic Survey. The programme screens on BBC World (02:30 & 09:30 28/5 or 15:30 & 21:30 29/5). If you’re unable to watch BBC World TV, you can view the programme from the Open University website from this Friday.

On Cold (Arctic blog)

‘How cold is cold?’ I asked. I felt a bit stupid. Simon, the Ice Base Manager was giving me a briefing in the sitting room of his house in late February. I had never been to the Arctic before and had no idea what to expect.

We went for a walk after lunch. The air was damp and heavy. It crawled in between my jacket and fleece, the heavy, clinging, damp cold of England. It must have been 5°C.

Simon was a polar veteran. I tried not to shiver in the relative mild.

The temperature at the Ice Base was likely to be between about -35°C, rising to about -20°C towards the end of April. I had no idea what these figures meant. Is -35°C twice as cold, three times as cold, ten times as cold? These numbers were abstract and extreme in equal measure. They accompanied me on shopping trips to buy thermal leggings and fleece jackets and entertained friends in pubs at weekends.

I am now in Resolute, one of the coldest inhabited places in the world, waiting for a flight to the Ice Base. The cold here is a sharp and dry cold that is, at first, a comfortable contrast to the stuffy and claustrophobic warmth of the hotel.

As I stretch outside, the first sensation is a stiffening brittleness in my nose as the damp exhalation freezes. Then my beard starts to feel waxy. Nose and cheeks are pinched and sting. It is -40°C, yet I do not feel cold. Ears if uncovered give off a sharp ache. The fabric on my gloves hardens. Each layer of clothing is like a piece of armour, a defence.

It is a battle to see how far the cold can penetrate from the outside and how well my body can warm from the inside. I feel cocksure wandering around town, confident that the extra chips and chocolate cake will fuel me in this fight. To battle the cold, you need energy.

If I were in London, I would be eating 2,000 calories a day to lead a normal working life. Here, I need to eat 5,000 calories a day. 3,000 calories just to fuel my body to stay warm, like feeding an extra me. On an expedition, pulling a sled, polar explorers will be consuming three times as many calories as recommended by your doctor and losing weight.

Even with the food and thermals, I feel like an invisible sprite has a frozen set of tongs and presses them to any patch of exposed flesh.
It is not colder in the Arctic. It is a different cold. Not malicious but lethal for the unwary. Do not think in terms of degrees. Imagine that the cold here is not a temperature but an animal or ice spirit, a polar djinn if you will, trying to find a way in, trying to find a weakness, biting, clawing, burning.

The team at the Ice Base put their idea of cold into words. This is what they came up with.

On Copepods (Arctic Blog)

Ceri thinks copepods are cool. I didn’t know what a copepod was. I hadn’t even heard of them before I met Ceri.

We met at Heathrow airport on the way to join the Catlin Arctic Survey and compared choices of bad films on the flight to Ottawa.

Dr Ceri Lewis of the University of Exeter drew a picture of a copepod for me on the paper table cloth of Montana’s in pink crayon. It looked like an elongated marine wood louse. (more…)

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.