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Igloo 101


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Ask almost any experienced igloo builder and he'll tell you that igloo construction is something everyone can learn to do. Indeed, during his two years studying arctic survival skills from the Netsilik tribe of Inuit on King William Island, polar explorer Roald Amundsen became an expert igloo builder, even though at first, he recalled, "Many a snow block did I get on my head when I tried this work." But the best snow-hut architects will also tell you that you would need to know some important things before you could build a successful igloo yourself. In this quiz, see if you can guess the answers to a handful of questions about the winter shelters of native arctic peoples.—Lexi Krock

1. The first step of igloo-building is finding the right spot. You can erect an igloo successfully anywhere you can find enough snow. But for the Inuit, who once relied on igloos for shelter throughout the winter, where was the best place to build one?

  1. on sea ice
  2. on tundra
  3. on a mountain

2. What is the ideal kind of snow for igloo construction?

  1. the freshest snow available
  2. snow with a high ice content
  3. a layer of snow formed in a single drift

3. What's the ideal shape for an igloo?

  1. a hemisphere
  2. a catenary
  3. a cone

4. What kind of tools are needed for igloo construction?

  1. a shovel, a knife, and a chisel
  2. just a shovel
  3. just a knife

5. Okay. You have your spot picked out, you've identified the right snow, you have the proper shape in mind, and you're carrying the right tool. Now, once you get started, where do you position yourself to construct an igloo?

  1. both inside and outside its foundation
  2. inside it only
  3. outside it only

6. You're just about to add the final pieces to your igloo. Do you add windows? How about a chimney?

  1. add both
  2. just add a chimney (no windows in igloos)
  3. just add windows (no chimneys in igloos)

7. Inside an igloo, with an oil lamp burning, how much warmer is it usually than outside?

  1. 15 degrees
  2. 35 degrees
  3. 65 degrees

8. How do you maintain an igloo, to keep it intact throughout the winter?

  1. pour water over it daily to harden it
  2. fill cracks between blocks with fresh snow
  3. it maintains itself, then you move

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