Visit the full collection of Polar Lab educational resources on PBS LearningMedia:

The interactive NOVA Polar Lab uses 360° interactive environments, interviews with scientists, and mini-games to send students on an immersive quest to understand how the poles are key to understanding Earth’s climate—past, present, and future. The Polar Lab, hosted by Caitlin Saks, is made up of three missions:

Mission 1, Ellesmere Island, Canada: Students land in the Arctic tundra and are guided through this mission by paleontologist Jim Basinger and paleontologist Jaelyn Eberle. The player encounters a 360° video petrified forest environment and, through videos and interactive mini-games, must piece together fossils from ancient trees and animals to determine what this environment looked like 50 million years ago.

Mission 2, Lab Exploration: Students go from the field to the lab in Mission 2. At the National Lacustrine Core Facility in Minnesota, geoscientist Julie Brigham-Grette helps student find clues to the past locked in lake cores. Then, at the NSF Ice Core Facility in Colorado, glaciologist Christo Buizert helps students analyze ancient ice cores to determine the role carbon dioxide at the poles has played in our planet’s temperature.

Mission 3, Greenland and Antarctica: Finally, students are flown to the Jacobshavn Glacier in Greenland with climate scientist David Holland and to Antarctica with ecologist Jay Rotella, where they will learn how warming waters are impacting ice at the poles, and what that means for the animals that call Antarctica home.Students will complete the Polar Lab with an understanding of how Earth’s natural climactic variations, from hot house to ice house conditions, and of how human activity is currently disrupting that pattern with potentially global consequences. The Polar Lab is an interdisciplinary resource, spanning Earth, life, and physical sciences.

Visit the NOVA Polar Lab collection on PBS LearningMedia to view the full lesson plan as well as video resources featuring footage from the Polar Lab with teaching tips and discussion questions: