Program 6 HEROES AND HEROINES: Explorers Past and Present (14:41)

Key Science Content

After viewing the video and participating in one or more of the Hands-On Activities, students will be able to:
• create a report or timeline showing the history of Antarctic exploration, with specific reference to the "Heroic Age" of the early 20th century
• compare and contrast the explorers of the past (male) with today's researchers and science support teams (a mix of male and females)
• explain and simulate how Extreme Cold Weather gear protects against heat loss
• simulate how heavy planes can safely land on sea ice

Program Description
Program 6 focuses on human stories of exploring this remote and challenging continent, and the transformation from an age of heroic, male adventurers to one where teams of scientists, females as well as males, work at making discoveries on what are still the frontiers of knowledge. This video integrates Science Standard 16, "Understands the scientific enterprise" (Project 2061, Benchmarks for Science Literacy, page 14) with history and fascinating vignettes of today's researchers in the field.

• "The Heroic Age" (04:08) Key dates and events in the race for the South Pole are introduced through stories of the expeditions of the Englishman, Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton (an Irish member of Scott's first expedition) and the Norwegian, Roald Amundsen. We see some of the huts built to support these early expeditions, still largely preserved in the cold, dry air. Shackleton's party was first to climb Mount Erebus (see program 2), and reached within 100 miles of the Pole before turning back. In 1911, Scott and Amundsen raced for the Pole, using very different equipment and approaches to the task. (Amundsen used dogs and skis; Scott relied on human muscle-power.) Amundsen applied lessons learned in the exploration of the Arctic, and his party was the first to reach the "last place on Earth." Scott arrived soon after, but unlike Amundsen, never made it back to safety. His 5-man party all died on the return trip. Though Scott's goal was primarily to get to the Pole first, when their bodies were discovered he and his men were found to be hauling 39 pounds of rock samples back for scientific study.

• "Heroines and Heroes" (05:01) Today's Antarctic explorers are very different. This sequence offers a fast-paced round-up of the planes and vehicles now used to travel across the continent. Eddie Holt, food service manager at McMurdo, says he wants to see "at least 15 pounds (added) on each person before they leave!" We see researchers new to the Ice go through "Snow School," designed to teach them how to stay safe and make emergency shelters. (See also Educator program A for excerpts from official NSF safety videos.) NSF's logistics chief, Dave Bresnahan, notes that women now play a major role in the USAP. Biologist Diane Stoecker and geologist Sridhar Anandakrishnan express their warm enthusiasm for working on the cold continent (Diane happily calls herself an "ice freak.") We see "R&R" on the ice, with people flying kites and listening to folk music, and see venturesome USAP participants plunging into freezing waters at Palmer Station, in a kind of "Penguin Polar Plunge."

• "Frontiers of Knowledge" (03:42) Diving can also be for serious science as well as recreation. Dive Coordinator Jim Mastro, NASA exobiologist, Dale Andersen, and veteran dive safety instructor, Jim Stewart, talk about some of the unique and amazing things to be seen underwater. Andersen explains that NASA sees Antarctica as an analog to processes which may have happened long ago on Mars, as Mars cooled to its present Ice Age. We see ice fish, able to survive in waters below zero degrees Celsius, and nematodes which live in the Dry Valleys, even inside rocks. Penguin researcher Gerry Kooyman (see program 4) concludes by noting that Antarctica is like no place else on the planet, somewhere that-today, just as a century ago-shows us things impossible to discover elsewhere.