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Warnings from the Ice

Classroom Activity


Objective
To plan a survival pack for severe Antarctic weather.

Materials for each team
  • copy of "The Icy Survival" student handouts
    Icy Survival (PDF or HTML)
    Antarctic Conditions Fact Sheet (PDF or HTML)
Procedure
  1. Scientists in Antarctica often work in mobile teams that venture out on the ice to do research. They bring survival equipment in case conditions such as storms, accidents, or equipment failure prevent them from returning to camp. In this activity students plan a standard survival pack that would enable them to endure severe weather for 24 hours.

  2. Divide students into teams of four and distribute to each student the "Icy Survival" student handout and the "Antarctic Conditions Fact Sheet" student handout.

  3. Have students identify pack items they consider essential or not. After teams make their selections, have them compare lists, discuss how they would use their items, and revise their packs based on their discussions. To conclude, have students consider what they would need to survive in a hot desert environment and compare items in both cold and hot packs and their reasons for including each.

Activity Answer

Conditions are so extreme in Antarctica that scientists expend more energy on surviving than they do on research. In actuality there are several types of survival packs. There are first-aid packs; helicopter emergency transport packs; deep-field packs for those working distances away from the base camp, and packs for crevasse rescues. This activity uses a combination of items from the helicopter and deep-field packs.

In a worst-case scenario, a group might have to wait out a storm in order to make safe passage back to base camp. However, communication and transportation systems have become so advanced that it is unlikely anyone would be left for days. Students choices for their packs may vary. Each group should choose a total of 16 items: 8 items that are the same for each pack and 8 items that are shared by the group (2 per pack). Use the chart to the right as a general guide for determining essential and non-essential items.


Possible items for survival pack


Essential


Not Essential


Why?

individual first-aid kit

X

 

To treat wounds or illnesses

sleeping bag, thermal sleeping pad

X

 

To hold body heat in and keep cold out

socks/mittens/face mask

X

 

To have as spares in case originals are lost or get wet

gorp, chocolate bar

X

 

High-energy carbohydrates to keep digestive system working and release energy quickly

dehydrated food

X

 

Carbohydrates to keep body warm

1/2 gallon water

X

 

To prevent dehydration (a serious problem in the dry Antarctic), and to rehydrate food

tent*

X

 

To provide shelter against wind and to protect body warmth

backpacking stove/kerosene*

X

 

To warm food and water, which freeze in a pack, for eating

matches*

X

 

To light stove

pot and pan set*

X

 

To prepare hot water and cook food

snow shove/ice saw*

X

 

To build a snow wall to block wind for a tent, or to cut ice to make a shelter

sledgehammer*

X

 

To pound tent stakes into the frozen ground

radio with spare batteries*

X

 

To communicate with rescue team

signal mirror*

X

 

To signal rescue team

camera, book, pictures of someone you love, rifle, toilet paper

 

X

Adds additional weight, not necessary to survive

beef jerky, cheese, 1/2 loaf bread

 

X

Unusable when frozen and not high enough carbohydrate energy levels for quick energy release

blanket

 

X

Not as efficient for holding in heat as sleeping bag

flashlight

 

X

Not needed because there is constant daylight

drill, journal/pencil

 

X

For research, not an emergency situation

snowshoes

 

X

Too cumbersome to carry. In severe weather, it is better to stay put and wait for help or for storm to end.

suntan lotion

 

X

Not needed because body will be protected by clothing

insect repellant

 

X

Very few insects in Antarctic

cup/spoon

 

X

Useful, but food can be eaten without these

* Shared group items

Teacher's Guide
Warnings from the Ice
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