Educator program B
Teaching and Learning with "Passport to Antarctica"

"Real Science" the P2K way
The Student Videos
Hands-On Activities
Online Resources

Educator program B
"Real Science" the P2K way

(montage of scenes from PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE projects, with music.)

How can you bring this world of exploration and discovery to your students?

How can they join these scientists out in the field and learn about their research while never leaving your classroom?

Now the "PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE" project invites teachers and students to...

EXPLORE Antarctica, a whole continent dedicated to cutting-edge research.

EXPERIENCE the Amazon Rainforest, home to the greatest diversity of plants and animals on Earth.

EXCITE minds and imaginations by flying to the planets with NASA Missions.

ENLIST leading scientists and engineers as MENTORS for your students.

How does this entirely new kind of learning experience work? "PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE" uses an integrated suite of videos, hands-on activities and online resources.

PTK'S multimedia materials provide everything you need to allow your students to do REAL SCIENCE alongside REAL SCIENTISTS while experiencing some of the most exciting and challenging places on Earth.

PTK videos provide the real-world context within which students can appreciate the importance of the scientific principles they are learning. The videos also offer lively portraits of today's researchers and the research process.

"PASSPORT TO ANTARCTICA," for example, brings Earth's coldest, windiest, iciest, and most remote continent home for students studying Earth, Life and Physical science.

Find out what it's like to live at the very end of our planet, at America's South Pole Station, where scientists probe the ozone hole.

See how researchers in isolated field camps use explosive charges to track ice movements and detect possible global climate change.

Male researcher:
"30 seconds, shooting!"


Trek across 1,000 meters of subzero ocean to participate in a census of Weddell seals.

Female researcher measuring seal:
"Sternum is at 75, total at a hundred and fifty two..."

Accompany researchers to the Allan Hills to look for meteorites from the moon and Mars, and brave temperatures close to 100 below.

Sail across the stormy Drake Passage, some of the roughest seas on Earth, to Palmer Station, off the Antarctic Peninsula, America's premiere research base for work on giant petrels and Adelie Penguins.

PTK videos personalize the adventure of doing science, and make some of the most challenging, remote and otherwise inaccessible places on Earth familiar to students.

Sharon Spence:
"I think the most important part is that it's real science; it's something that students get so excited about because they're really doing something that's never been done before. They're involved with what's going on in the world; they're being able to communicate with other people all over the world. It's been one of the most exciting experiences we've had."

But participants in "PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE" don't just watch science being done-they DO IT for themselves!

Each PASSPORT Module provides a Teacher's Guide full of hands-on activities embodying key curriculum content and the National Science Standards...

Blackline masters of student worksheets...

Sample hands-on supplies...

Resource videos...

CD-ROMS and more mean teachers start with a complete "turn-key" package to ensure success in any classroom or setting.

The Teacher's Guides provide simple, practical procedures related to real-world content more EXCITING than found in any textbook.

In "PASSPORT TO THE SOLAR SYSTEM", for example, these students use graphing and mathematics to probe the shape of objects hidden in a shoe box, directly paralleling the way the orbiting laser altimeter aboard Mars Global Surveyor is mapping the previously unknown topography of the Red Planet.

Young "engineers" are CHALLENGED to design the best way to land a fragile payload, such as an egg, on a hard surface.

Man (as egg drops and smashes):

After several messy trials and errors, they succeed!

"It survived!"

These students then have a new appreciation of the technology NASA uses when the Pathfinder Spacecraft lands safely on Mars.

Jo Lynne Roberts:
"The hands-on activities are fabulous. I really believe we often do too many activities without content, and PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE provides the content."

Mary Matthes:
"It was so clear: The diffraction gratings were provided, the heat-sensitive paper was provided. So it was like my little mini kit there that I could start off with; I didn't have to search out or write the materials myself.

Jo Lynne Roberts:
"It's what's happening today... It's what's going on... It's the cutting edge.

PASSPORT'S award-winning online resources provide opportunities impossible before the Internet. Each Module has visually-rich web sites and simple e-mail discussion groups for teachers and students.

"PASSPORT TO THE RAINFOREST", for example, provides current and engaging information not available in textbooks.

Its 4 main sections... "GEOSYSTEM"... "ECOSYSTEM"... "TEAMS" and "INTERACT"... provide a comprehensive and engaging overview of rainforests around the world, the plants and creatures who live there, and the researchers who know them best.

Once you've met the researchers online, "INTERACT" provides a chance to send them questions, and receive back individual answers.

Each Module also offers online collaborative projects in which students INTERACT with world-class researchers.

During "LIVE FROM THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE", NASA offered PTK 3 orbits of Earth's most powerful eye on the Universe.

The only requirement was to have students directly involved in decisions about what planets to observe.

(Students in planetarium cheer)

PTK recruited 4 of America's leading astronomers as online mentors. Each of them spoke up, on camera and online, for a particular planet, Jupiter, Pluto, Neptune or Uranus.

Online, students across America and around the world asked questions of these "PLANET ADVOCATES", researched each option, and collaborated with each other. Eventually PTK brokered a consensus to allocate one orbit to distant Pluto, and two for Neptune.

ONLINE, students followed the process of targeting the Hubble.

ON CAMERA, they and the "PLANET ADVOCATES" saw THEIR results for the first time.

C.J. Rodkey
"It's an extraordinary experience... 'Live from the Hubble' brought real-time data from outer space into my classroom. They were able to bring in the data that we wouldn't have been able to see otherwise. They were able to talk electronically, through cyberspace, to professionals in the field, people who are extraordinarily gifted, at that. This is very much like being with the 'All-Star' team of the basketball league. The people that you deal with would be the Michael Jordan's of the aerospace world."

But PTK'S unique online infrastructure "delivers" for educators as well as students. Mail lists and discussion forums invite teacher-to-teacher sharing-questions, resources, examples of classroom success, resulting in a nationwide, virtual, "Faculty Lounge."

Ginny Dexter:
"We develop our lessons together, we find out from each other how it's working. And so we 'Internet' together. And with the kids, it gives them a chance, when they Internet, to say, 'Gee, I get to know this person, and I talked with a scientist who lives here,' and they start looking at maps and figuring out where people are from."

So by participating in "PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE" your students can...

Understand the key concepts of middle school science...

Interact with the world's best researchers...

Visit unique and otherwise inaccessible locations...

Use authentic scientific procedures to solve real-world problems...

And put the tools of the Information Age to work.

But as a teacher or administrator you need to know if "PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE" works?

Supported by the National Science Foundation, a 3-year evaluation produced solid evidence of positive student learning outcomes. PTK'S use of integrated video, online and hands-on materials had powerful effects.

Student interest in science and technology was UP 20% when ALL 3 media were used together. Teachers reported many youngsters, including some otherwise unmotivated, responded more positively to PTK projects than to instruction using textbooks alone.

Female student:
"I go home and talk about it because it is something fun to do and it's something different other than just studying..."

Male student:
"...because if you read from a book you may forget it after a long while, but when you do it and it takes you a long time and you really concentrate on what you are doing, it stays with you, I would say, for years to come."

Female student #2:
"And when you are creating it that's how you are learning, because you are actually, like, visualizing stuff that would be in a book."

OK, kids LIKE PASSPORT, but are they really LEARNING the material you've required to TEACH?

Analysis of "LIVE FROM MARS" showed a 22% BOOST in student work demonstrating evidence of the National Science Standards, and related the improvement directly to PTK activities.

And teachers with decades in the profession tell us that PTK has re-energized their careers and attitudes, and provided them with the best and most practical example of how to use new tools, new educational technologies and new teaching practices successfully.

Bonnie Bracey:
"This is a passport, but this passport only takes you to the world. Passport to Knowledge has been my passport to all kinds of things. The tools mean nothing without the content. With Passport to Knowledge, it's what you do with those tools. And what each project has done for me is to put stars in my eyes that children see. They know that I like what I'm doing."

Tim McCollum:
"Our school theme for this next year is 'Exploring New Horizons'. And with each new PTK project, we're continuing to explore new horizons. And when it's new and exciting for the teacher, it makes it that much easier to pass on that excitement to the students.

"The success of any lesson can often be measured by insights and sometimes profound comments from our students. In the following samples, all done by 13 and 14-year-old-students, I think you'll know what I mean. Such things as, 'I've learned that there's a lot more to astronomy than just looking through a telescope.' 'I felt our class was really part of the decisions made around the world, I felt that we played an important part in the larger scheme of things.' 'It allowed us, as future space explorers, to be helping make decisions.' And finally, 'Astronomy is not just looking at stars, it's looking at a much broader topic, an endless universe.'

Those are pretty incredible thoughts from the minds and hearts of 13- and 14-year-olds."


The Student Videos & Hands-On Activities

program 1

The South Pole was the last place on Earth reached by the great explorers of the early 20th century.

And still, today, Antarctica is difficult to get to, and a challenging, dangerous place to live and work.

But it's also the only continent to peaceful scientific research in a place of natural wonders, and rare beauty.


In this video, we'll come to know Antarctica as a land of extremes...

(title: ALL ABOUT ICE)

We'll find out... "All about ice"


...And we'll see what it takes for today's scientific explorers to get here and to get around...

Graphics cite Science Content


Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, iciest place on Earth.

Earth's coldest temperature, minus 90 degrees, was recorded here at Russia's Vostok research station.

It is, on average, the highest continent on the planet; more than three times higher than North America.

(Graphics indicate sample Activities and Learning Objectives)


(Program 2 graphics)

Antarctica is a continent 98% covered in ice.

But has it always been a frozen, lifeless desert?

And if it was much warmer, could the ice melt again, and make global sea levels rise?

In this video, we'll see how one research team uses explosives to track huge amounts of ice on the move.


We'll explore the Earth's southern-most active volcano, and the forces which shape it.


And we'll hear how scientists, "reading the rocks," come to very different conclusions about the past and future of this continent.

(Graphics cite Science Content)

What we see on any day in Antarctica is just a snapshot of a continent in motion.

Some changes are slow, about the same speed that your fingernails grow.

Others, like this glacier calving, are much faster.

Scientists are trying to understand what these motions mean for the past and future of our planet.

(Graphics indicate sample Activities and Learning Objectives)


(Program 3 titles)

Winter in Antarctica... Night lasts 6 months of windy, freezing darkness...

Then comes Antarctic spring and summer, 6 months of day, and new life...

The pack ice begins to break up...

Light comes back to the Southern Ocean. Microscopic plant life blooms.

Billions of tiny creatures feed on the plants.

Penguins feast on the new abundance, bringing it home to hungry chicks.

In turn, Skuas swoop down on Adelie chicks, and leopard seals feast on unlucky penguins.

Humpbacks gorge on tiny plankton, and killer whales stalk penguins.

(titles: The Antarctic Food Web)

In this video, we'll explore the Antarctic food web, from small to large, in the air and in the ocean.

(titles: Studying the Marine Ecosystem)

And we'll see how researchers use computers and calipers to study plankton, penguins, and petrels, all amazing examples of the annual cycle of life in the most extreme environment on Earth.

Graphics cite Science Content

But around the continent, over and under the ice and ocean surface, this chilly desert blooms.

(super graphics on screen)

(Land temperatures
-70 degrees
Ocean temperatures
1-2 degrees)

On land, temperatures can dip to minus 70 degrees Celsius with fierce winds of over 100mph.

But under the ocean, it's a constant one to two degrees.

Life here has adapted to the chill, and these polar waters are even more productive than those of the Tropics.

All you need to set the engine of this marine ecosystem running is sunlight to drive photosynthesis.

(Graphics indicate sample Activities and Learning Objectives)

(program 104 PENGUIN POWER At Home on the Ice)

Antarctica... the coldest place on Earth...

Drier than the Gobi desert, though covered year round with mile deep ice.

High up on the polar plateau, conditions are so extreme that only microbes live here, along with humans with our technology and support systems.

To survive in Antarctica, we need to bring our shelter with us...

...Make sure we have supplies of energy-rich foods...

...And layers of heavy clothing for protection against the cold.

To get around, we rely on planes... and snowmobiles... and caterpillar trucks...

But on this continent, our species is a Johnny- and Jane-come lately.

The true experts in living on the ice are the penguins, who make their homes in the Southern Ocean, and on the continent's shores and nearby islands.

Seeing how the penguins survive and raise their young shows us how these fascinating creatures have adapted to the most challenging environment on Earth...

And how their survival depends on both cooperation, and competition.


In this video, we'll meet penguins close up, and see how both parenting behaviors and physical adaptation have allowed them to make it in Antarctica.

(Graphics cite Science Content)

Penguins are birds, but today their stubby flippers fly through icy waters. They still have feathers, packed as densely as 70 per square inch... Together with layers of blubber and fat, the feathers protect them from icy winds and freezing waters.

On land, they waddle... but then they take to the water to feed on krill and small fish, and swim with powerful efficiency.

(Graphics indicate sample Activities and Learning Objectives)


Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth. With temperatures on the high, dry Polar plateau sometimes falling to minus 90 degrees Celsius.

Here, it's only microbes that have adapted to extreme cold... And humans, with our powerful technology.

But Antarctica's shores and oceans are rich with creatures who have evolved their own unique ways of surviving in this harsh environment.

Whales and seals are two species of mammal that are just as well adapted to life in these cold waters as the Emperor and Adelie Penguins that have become the symbol of Antarctica.


In this video, we'll see how different seal species make their living... on... and under the ice.

(graphic: "THE SEALHEADS")

We'll meet a team of researchers for whom the Antarctic is inspiration and adventure...


And we'll look close up at Weddell seals, and see how their physiology and behavior fit into the Antarctic ecosystem.

(Graphics cite Science Content)

Seal researcher Michael Castellini:
"The Weddell seal is extremely easy to handle. Most species in the world, we could not do this. The ability to work with a wild animal and a mother and pup just a few feet away from each other is essentially impossible in most other species."

"Because they've never been approached by humans before, essentially, in their history, they don't have any predator on land, nothing bothers them on land, they think we're just big penguins essentially."

(Graphics indicate sample Activities and Learning Objectives)

(PASSPORT TO ANTARCTICA program 6: HEROES AND HEROINES Explorers Past and Present)

Today's Antarctic explorers face the same extreme conditions as did the heroes of the past: the coldest temperatures on Earth, the highest winds, long months of dark isolation.

In this video...

(CHAPTER HEAD: The Heroic Age)

...The triumphs, and the tragedies of the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration...

(CHAPTER HEAD Heroines and Heroes)

...The heroines and heroes of today's Antarctic research program...

(chapter head: Frontiers of Knowledge)

...And the intellectual adventure of looking for life on the frontiers of knowledge.

(Graphics cite Science Content)

The South Pole remains the most remote scientific research station on Earth.

It takes special ski-equipped planes to fly in food and fuel, and powerful machines and complex logistics to keep it running.

Think back, about one hundred years, when none of this was here, and no one had ever trodden on this spot.

(Graphics indicate sample Activities and Learning Objectives)



If Antarctica is the "last continent," that makes the South Pole, 90 degrees South latitude, the "last place on Earth."

But Antarctica and the Pole are among the best sites to explore our place in the cosmos.

(CHAPTER HEAD TITLE: "Spaceship South Pole")

In this video, what it takes to live and work at "Spaceship South Pole..."

(TITLE: Astronomy@90 degrees S)

What we can discover when we do astronomy at 90 degrees South latitude...

(TITLE: "The Antarctic Search for Meteorites")

And how and why Antarctica is a great place to find meteorites from the outer reaches of our solar system.

(Graphics cite Science Content)

You leave the coast and the bare rock mountains behind, and soon, it's only ice... And more ice... Hundreds of miles of ice, some two miles deep. You catch your first glimpse of the South Pole Station. Then you approach, and slide, on the C-130's huge, hissing skis, to a halt. The crew keeps the engines running so they'll be warm to take off once again.

Your welcome to the Pole is warm, but station staff carefully run through the rules that are meant to keep you, and the rest of the small South Pole community safe and sound.


(Graphics indicate sample Activities and Learning Objectives)

(PASSPORT TO ANTARCTICA program 8 Antarctica and Global Weather and Climate)

Antarctica may be remoter, cutoff by ocean currents and winds at the bottom of our world, but it's deeply connected to what happens around our planet.

(chapter head graphic: THE OZONE HOLE AND UV-B)

In this video... the Antarctic ozone hole, and what increased levels of ultraviolet radiation, may mean for life on Earth.

(chapter head graphic: ICE AND WATER/ICE AND OCEAN)

... What might happen if some or all of this ice should turn, once again, to liquid water...

(chapter head graphic: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE)

And how and why research in Antarctica may not only give us critical information, but also serve as a model for 21st century science.

(Graphics cite Science Content)

No crops grow for hundreds of miles around the South Pole. So to study the impact of increased UV-B, researchers have to work at places like Stepping Stones Island, near Palmer Station.

That's why Tad Day and his team are out here monitoring the growth of two of the rare green plants which can survive in Antarctica.


(Graphics indicate sample Activities and Learning Objectives)

(graphics: Demonstration of Hands-On Activities)

(graphics) Activity 1.4.2 Layers in the Water Column

"I have a demonstration here showing water layers that might occur in the Antarctic. Diana is here helping me. Diana, pull the plug on that and we'll explain it as it occurs...

We have waters of different densities, and these waters occur in the Antarctic, and we'll see what happens when we pull this thing out. The top layer is less dense than the others. Diana, what causes that top layer to be less dense?"

"Well, when the ice melts, it only leaves behind fresh water."

"And what causes the bottom water to be more dense?"

"When the water freezes, the salt from the ice goes out, and it sinks to the bottom which makes the bottom more salty."

"So it's very salty and cold, it has lots of nutrients, these waters flow away from the Antarctic, and if they flow away, other water has to replace it... And here we see this red layer of water coming in, it actually comes from the North Atlantic, and it takes thousands of years for this to happen.

Eventually, it's going to crash into the Antarctic continent, which is represented here, and it up-wells, and brings all those nutrients, which are lost through the food cycle, which go down to the bottom waters, and it replenishes the nutrients for those phytoplankton and krill to live on.

Out here, our students are doing some demonstrations. They've been stacking water layers, and they're sampling different layers that would occur in different areas."

(Graphic: Activity 2.3.1 Blubber Glove)

Teacher #2:
"And what we have set up for you this afternoon is an activity called "the Blubber Glove." Now as Humans, we're able to wear regular gloves to keep in the heat, and ward off the cold. And I have two students that would like to help with this demonstration this afternoon. Jen will give you a little bit of an idea of what is required for materials. And then old Katie is all ready to immerse her hands right into this ice water. Jen?"

"Hi, I'm Jen... and for this project we'll need shortening... plastic bags, and tape."

"And if Katie could just hold her hand up for a second, we have one hand, as you can see, that is totally immersed in some Crisco. There are two actual plastic bags, so the Crisco is not actually on her hand. And the other hand is just the test hand without any at all. And we're going to ask Katie now to put her hands in the water, and have a sense of what that feels like. Katie, go ahead and dunk those hands in...

"And as an extension activity, teachers, something that might be interesting for you to do while you have this tank set up in your classroom, you might consider just allowing all your students to put their bare hand for twenty or thirty seconds and find out just how cold that ice water actually is. And it would be even more interesting to put a coin on the bottom of that tank, and after a minute or so, too see if anyone is able to pick that coin up.

"And, Katie, is one hand getting a little bit cool?"

"The hand with only the 2 plastic bags is very cold, whereas I can't feel any of the cold water on my other hand."

"So where we have to put on our gloves, Camille, the seals and the penguins have their own little blubber gloves that are already built in."


Online Resources

Graphic shows P2K web address