Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
NATURE Home Current Season Episode Index NATURE Shop Contact Us For Teachers
Video DatabasePuzzles & FunEpisode PreviewsAnimal Guides
For Teachers
Lesson Plans For Teachers
Print this page
Email this page
Buy the Video
Lesson Plans: Middle School
Survival in Antarctica
Subject: Physical Science, Life Science, Cooperative Learning, Geography
Grade Level: 6-8

Visit episode web site

The NATURE program UNDER ANTARCTIC ICE takes students to a desolate place they'll probably never visit on their own: Antarctica! In this lesson, students will experience the harshness of the climate, explore the variety of interesting wildlife, and learn about human survival on the "frozen continent." Using a problem-based approach in cooperative teams, students will participate in various in-class design challenges. Each design challenge will address one of the difficulties faced by either scientists or other organisms as they try to survive the harsh climate of Antarctica.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
  • Identify the insulating properties of different materials.

  • Construct a food web from information obtained through research.

  • Identify different locations in Antarctica.

  • Work cooperatively to solve problems.


Physical Sciences

Standard 9, Level II
Knows that heat energy flows from warmer materials or regions to cooler ones through conduction, convection, and radiation

Standard 7, Level III
Knows basic ideas related to biological evolution (e.g., diversity of species is developed through gradual processes over many generations; biological adaptations, such as changes in structure, behavior, or physiology, allow some species to enhance their reproductive success and survival in a particular environment)


Standard 4, Level III
Knows that the design process relies on different strategies: creative brainstorming to establish many design solutions, evaluating the feasibility of various solutions in order to choose a design, and troubleshooting the selected design

Designs a solution or product, taking into account needs and constraints (e.g., cost, time, trade-offs, properties of materials, safety, aesthetics)

Implements a proposed design (e.g., organizes materials and other resources, plans one's work, makes use of group collaboration when appropriate, chooses suitable tools and techniques, works with appropriate measurement methods to ensure accuracy)

Working With Others

Standard 1, Level IV
1. Challenges practices in a group that are not working
2. Demonstrates respect for others in the group
3. Identifies and uses the strengths of others
4. Takes initiative when needed
5. Identifies and deals with causes of conflict in a group
6. Helps the group establish goals
7. Engages in active listening
8. Takes the initiative in interacting with others

Life Sciences

Standard 6, Level III
Knows ways in which organisms interact and depend on one another through food chains and food webs in an ecosystem


Standard 1, Level III
Knows the purposes and distinguishing characteristics of different map projections, including distortion on flat-map projections

Uses thematic maps (e.g., patterns of population, disease, economic features, rainfall, vegetation)

Standard 2, Level III
Knows the location of physical and human features on maps and globes


Standard 2, Level III
Uses advanced features and utilities of word processors (e.g., uses clip art, a spell-checker, grammar checker, thesaurus, outliner)

Uses boolean searches to execute complex searches on a database


back to For Teachers Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students