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Shackleton's Voyage of Endurance

Classroom Activity


Objective
To decide what to rescue from the sinking Endurance and compare those decisions to ones made by Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Materials for teacher
  • transparency copy of "Weighty Decisions" student handout (PDF or HTML)
  • transparency marker
Materials for each student
  • copy of "Weighty Decisions" student handout
    (plus an additional copy for each group)
Procedure
  1. Before watching, organize students into groups and supply a copy of the "Weighty Decisions" student handout to each student, and an additional copy to each group. Students will be prioritizing items to take from the Endurance before it sinks, just as Shackleton had to.

  2. Allow students time to review their choices of items for the journey before them. Then have students individually fill out their student handouts. When done, have students in each group discuss their choices with their group members and reach a consensus about what to take from the ship.

  3. Have students fill out the additional group student handout with their final choices and answer the Group Questions section before returning the sheet to you.

  4. Using each group's student handouts and your transparency copy, place a dot in the first, second, or third priority box for each item each group has ranked. When you have recorded each group's decisions, hold a class discussion on any differences of opinion.

  5. Have students watch the program. When the program is finished, review Shackleton's choices and the explanations for each of those. (See Activity Answer.) Were there any decisions students would change to be the same as or different from Shackleton's? If so, which ones and why?

  6. As an extension, have students list people they consider leaders in such areas as politics, sports, business, and society. What are their qualities? What traits seem to recur when students describe these people? What traits might these people have that could be detrimental to effective leadership?

More Shackleton Activities
Want more activities that relate to Shackleton's infamous journey? You can download the 24-page Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure Teacher's Guide that accompanies a giant-screen film on this legendary leader's journey. Find the guide and upcoming film locations at

www.shackletonsantarcticadventure.com
Activity Answer

Here are some of the decisions Shackleton made regarding which items should be taken from the sinking Endurance (compiled from written accounts of Shackleton's journey).

1

2

3

Item

1

2

3

Item

1

 

 

Artist's Oil Paints

 

 

3

Radio

1

 

 

Books

1

 

 

Reindeer skin sleeping bag

 

2

 

Camera, film

1

 

 

Rifles, cartridges

 

2

 

Canned meat

1

 

 

Rope

1

 

 

Compass

1

 

 

Sail canvas

1

 

 

Cooking pots

1

 

 

Sextant

 

 

3

Cotton shirts

 

 

3

Ship's bell

1

 

 

Extra kerosene

 

 

3

Signal mirror

1

 

 

Extra lamp wicks

 

 

3

Sledges and dogs

 

 

3

Flare pistol

 

 

3

Soccer ball

 

2

 

Fresh water in canisters

 

 

3

Star charts

 

2

 

Journals and pencils

1

 

 

Stove

1

 

 

Knives

 

2

 

Tents

1

 

 

Matches

1

 

 

Tools

1

 

 

Medical supplies

1

 

 

Wooden crates

 

 

3

Pistols, cartridges

1

 

 

Woolen long underwear

1

 

 

Playing cards

 

 

 

 

Shackleton's first concerns were for the necessities of life. Penguins and seals were easily hunted with rifles (1), so canned meat (2) was unnecessary. Pistols however, would have been dead weight (3).

Fresh water (2) was essential, but heavy and bulky. Although sea ice is salty, glacial ice, iceberg fragments, and snow are plentiful sources of fresh water if there is a stove (1), kerosene (1), matches (1), and cooking pots (1) to melt them in.

Shelter includes staying warm. Rope (1) has many uses, including making replacement shelter for the flimsy tents (2) from sail canvas (1). Woolen long underwear (1) and reindeer skin sleeping bags (1) are warm when wet because they trap air. Cotton shirts (3) stay saturated and cold.

Some choices depended on the journey. The pack ice proved to be too rough for sledges (3), and the dogs required too many provisions. (They were shot.) The lamp wicks (1), and artist's oil paints (1) were used to caulk the lifeboats and the tools (1) and wooden crates (1) were essential to maintain the lifeboats.

Navigation to South Georgia depended on sextant (1) sightings of the sun, not stars; so star charts (3) were unnecessary. The value of medical supplies (1), knives (1), and a compass (1) are obvious.

Calling for help was not an option. Radio (3) was in its infancy in 1916, and Shackleton was too far from any rescuers for a signal mirror (3), a ship's bell (3), or a flare pistol (3) to be useful.

Shackleton was also concerned about the mental health of his men and included playing cards (1) and books (1) to help them through times when they were forced to lie low. Perhaps this explains why the extra weight of journals and pencils (2), and a camera and film (2) were permitted. But the soccer ball (3) would see little opportunity for use under these conditions.

Links and Books

Books

Alexander, Caroline. The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition. Bloomsbury, U.K.: Knopf, U.S.A., 1998.
Blends detailed research with Frank Hurley's expedition photography to chronicle the 22-month epic of survival.

Huntford, Roland. Shackleton. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf, 1998.
Offers a comprehensive biography of Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Lansing, Alfred. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf, 1999.
Reconstructs the months of hardship and terror the Endurance crew suffered.

Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody. Ice Story: Shackleton's Lost Expedition. New York, NY: Clarion Books, 1999.
Follows the series of disasters that constitute Shackleton's adventure.

Shackleton, Ernest, and Peter King (ed.) South: The Last Antarctic Expedition of Shackleton and the Endurance. New York, NY: The Lyons Press, 1998.
Presents Shackleton's own account of his odyssey.

Web Sites

NOVA Online—Shackleton's Voyage of Endurance
http://www.pbs.org/nova/shackleton/
Documents the PBS/NOVA Online Adventure that follows the filming of Shackleton's story.

Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/shackleton/expedintro.html
Features one-page summaries of each stage of Shackleton's adventure.

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton
http://indigo.ie/~jshack/ernest.html
Provides links to information in all forms about the explorer, including books, video and film, upcoming exhibitions, and related Internet sites.

Standards

The "Weighty Decisions" activity aligns with the following National Science Education Standards:

Grades 5-8

Life Science

Science Standard C:
Life Science

The characteristics of organisms

  • Organisms have basic needs. For example, animals need air, water, and food; plants require air, water, nutrients, and light. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their needs can be met. The world has many different environments, and distinct environments support the life of different types of organisms.

Grades 9-12

Life Science

Science Standard C:
Life Science

The behavior of organisms

  • Organisms have behavioral responses to internal changes and to external stimuli. Responses to external stimuli can result from interactions with the organism's own species and others, as well as environmental changes; these responses either can be innate or learned. The broad patterns of behavior exhibited by animals have evolved to ensure reproductive success. Animals often live in unpredictable environments, and so their behavior must be flexible enough to deal with uncertainty and change. Plants also respond to stimuli.

Teacher's Guide
Shackleton's Voyage of Endurance
PROGRAM OVERVIEW VIEWING IDEAS CLASSROOM ACTIVITY RELATED NOVA RESOURCES INTERACTIVE FOR STUDENTS




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