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Arctic Passage

Program Overview

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NOVA recreates the expeditions of Sir John Franklin and Roald Amundsen, two Arctic explorers who set out to find the legendary Arctic sea route known as the Northwest Passage.

Hour one of the program:

  • tells how Sir John Franklin and his British Admiralty crew of 128 men set out in May of 1845 with two ships to find the mythical route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

  • notes the food and other provisions brought on the journey.

  • presents the types of evidence that historians relied on to determine what happened to the expedition—artifacts that included a written note, ice core data, interviews with Inuit, and forensic analysis of body remains.

  • pieces together an account of where expedition members traveled and how they may have died.

  • explains how Franklin and 20 percent of his crew died two years into the expedition; the final four crew members died after six years on the ice.

  • reports that the search for the men was officially called off in 1859.

Hour two of the program:

  • relates how Amundsen became a polar explorer.

  • explains why Amundsen chose to make the journey in a small converted fishing boat rather than a large ship, setting out from Oslo in 1903 with a six-man crew.

  • reports on some of the challenges the expedition faced, including a fire and running aground.

  • recounts the path the Norwegian explorer took through the passage.

  • reveals how Amundsen befriended the Inuit and notes ways that both the explorers and the Inuit were affected by the relationship between the two cultures.

  • tells of Amundsen's successful completion of the passage on August 26, 1905.

  • relates how Amundsen went on to be the first person to reach the South Pole on December 14, 1911.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after the program is taped off the air.

Teacher's Guide
Arctic Passage
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