Program 1 THE LAST CONTINENT (14:53)

Key Science Content

After viewing the video and participating in one or more of the Hands-On Activities, students will be able to:
• locate Antarctica on a globe or map, and describe and explain the extreme weather conditions found on the continent (also see Opening Activities)
• contrast conditions in Antarctica with those of their home state or region (also see Opening Activities)
• discuss plate tectonics and describe the evolution through time of the Antarctic continent
• describe the variety of researchers and research to be found in the USAP, and identify key aspects of the science support infrastructure, such as Extreme Cold Weather clothing, housing and transportation

Program Description
This program introduces Antarctica and the entire Module and also offers ways to bring key aspects of the first 2 National Science Standards to life: "Understands basic features of the Earth" (Project 2061 Benchmarks for Science Literacy, page 66), such as ice and liquid water, and Standard 2: "Understands basic Earth processes" (Project 2061, Benchmarks for Science Literacy, page 71), such as plate tectonics, and how jet streams and ocean currents create extreme cold and high winds. The video uses dramatic and beautiful images to paint a fast-paced visual portrait of the place where students will be experiencing some important and fascinating science principles in the following videos and hands-on Activities.

• "Antarctica-Land of Extremes" (Video segment running time: 02:16) Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, iciest, highest-in average altitude-and most remote continent on Earth, with conditions so extreme that no indigenous peoples have ever lived here, unlike every other continent. This section of the video summarizes key facts about the weather and climate of the continent (such as temperature, wind speeds, etc.) and basic geography: 90% of Earth's ice and 70% of Earth's fresh water is found here, covering all but 2% of the continent. Animation using NASA satellite imagery shows the annual doubling of the continent's area in the winter growth of the sea ice sheets. Earth's tilt of 23.5 degrees results in approximately 6 months of day, followed by 6 months of night, with 80% of the Sun's radiation reflected back to space rather than being absorbed as heat (inviting discussion of the seasons and key principles of optics.) Surprisingly, Antarctica is classified as a "desert" since humidity is low, snowfall is comparatively rare, liquid water is infrequent and much of the ice is merely blown from place to place as crystals.

• "All about Ice" (06:12) The video's second section connects some of the most important concepts in earth science to phenomena and processes found in the Antarctic. It begins with a round-up of some the most important kinds of ice. We see stable ice sheets, and crumbling (or calving) glaciers-rivers of ice in motion. Using animation, we peer beneath the surface and see the difference between the solid, ancient rock of East Antarctica, and the jumble of islands found under the West Antarctic ice sheet. Geologist Ian Dalziel (pronounced "Dee-ell") takes us on a helicopter trip out into the field to show some of the evidence which he believes indicates that Antarctica's rocks were once connected directly with outcroppings now found on other continents. Students hear how Alfred Wegener first came up with the idea of what he called "continental drift", in part by seeing how the coast of West Africa and South America fitted so perfectly together. Through Dalziel's comments and program narration over computer graphics, students encounter the ancient land masses of Pangea and Gondwanaland, and see how over millions of years the continents finally arrived at the positions we recognize today. This segment uses the geological history of Antarctica to explain "plate tectonics", one of the master principles of 20th century earth science. (Program 2 provides additional background, including the use of fossils to provide further evidence of how all the continents were once connected. Please note that Wegener's ideas were initially criticized and rejected since he was unable to suggest an acceptable physical force to move the continents-allowing discussion of how truly revolutionary concepts are not necessarily accepted at once, nor easily. We now understand plate tectonics as being caused by convection currents in the mantle moving the plates on which the continents sit.) Just as Earth's continents have changed position over time, so has Earth's climate, as shown by the fact that dinosaurs once roamed the ancient tropical forests of Antarctica. The theme of climate change and how we can understand what has happened, and may happen in the future, is introduced, to be more fully covered in program 8.

• "Getting there and Getting around" (04:03) How can we explore a place with such extreme conditions? This section shows some of the science support infrastructure which makes the U.S. Antarctic Program possible. We meet many of the researchers who'll re-appear at greater length in later programs as they travel to the continent and gather the gear they need to live and work safely and successfully on the Ice. Marine biologist Robin Ross (featured in program 3) is seen preparing in sunny Santa Barbara, CA, then traveling via Chile to Palmer Station, collecting gear specifically designed to keep her dry as well as warm. Life boat drill and images of the "Roaring 40s" remind students of the inherent risks of working in extremes. Geologist Dave Harwood (featured in program 2) flies to the Ice via Christchurch, New Zealand, collecting ECW gear (Extreme Cold Weather clothing) consisting of layer upon layer of insulation. The program ends with images of the flags of some of the 44 nations signatory to the Antarctic Treaty (grouped round the ceremonial South Pole) which reserves the entire continent solely for peaceful scientific research.