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Arctic Passage

Viewing Ideas

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Before Watching

  1. The Northwest Passage is the sea route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Franklin Expedition traveled from England to western Greenland through what is now Baffin Bay, then on to Resolute Island. Some believe the crew made it as far as King William Island. Have students plot the Northwest Passage on a map and estimate its distance.

  2. Organize the class into five teams. As they watch the program, have four of the teams track one of the following types of evidence related to why the expedition failed: diseases, health issues and physical remains; ship-related artifacts; Inuit testimony; and written notes and journals. Have a fifth group keep track of when events occurred.


After Watching

  1. Have students refer to their notes and share what they learned, beginning with the team that took notes on when events occurred (have this team write the sequence of events on the board). Each team should report and add its findings to the time line. Ask students to share which theory of why the men became ill and died they believe is most likely and why.

  2. Discuss with students what conditions were like for the men on the Franklin Expedition. What were the hardships? The pleasures? What technologies were available to them? What technologies are available today that did not exist in 1845? (Some technologies available today include advanced ice-breaking equipment, Global Positioning System navigation, nutrient supplements, better preservation methods for food, synthetic fibers for clothes, and antibiotics and other medications.)

Teacher's Guide
Arctic Passage
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