Polar Night & Day
The 1st of December is internationally known as the Antarctica Day. It celebrates the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in Washington in 1959, Treaty which aims to protect the Antarctic continent (representing nearly 10% of the Earth’s surface). Antarctica shall “forever [to] be used exclusively for peaceful purposes … in the interests of all mankind”. Antarctica Day has a long tradition within APECS (Association of Polar Early Career Scientists) mainly through outreach activities like teaching children and teenagers about Antarctica. Given the importance and the tradition, the BeNeLux APECS National Committees together with the Dutch artist Udo Prinsen decided to join forces and organise an internationally coordinated outreach project for the Antarctica day 2018 in primary schools of the three countries.
In December 2018 we therefore went to 6 different classes in 4 different schools in Frisange, Gonderange, Remich and Schengen. In December 2019 we had the honor to return to 4 classes in the primary school in Frisange and the Lycée d'Echternach. During that first workshop, the pupils explored the reason behind Arctic day and night. While explaining the theory of the earth’s rotation around the sun with some globi, the children solved some exercises and had fun exploring live web-cameras from Tromsö, Norway (Arctic) and from the research station Amundsen Scott in Antarctica. More than once could we hear an enthusiastic “Wow” - discovering the theory behind a concept is still different, and more fun, when you can see it with your own eyes. In order to visualize the concept of night and day, we built camerae obscurae with soda cans and light sensitive paper. The pupils were wondering where the “camera” was located - all of them being only familiar with digital cameras. It was about time we revealed the “secret” behind our “special” cameras.
In June and July of the following year, we went back to the same classes. Our cameras had hung outside for 6 months now: from the first part of our workshop around the winter solstice (21st december) until the summer solstice (21st june) recording the trajectory of the sun on the horizon for 6 months! It was time to look at the results!
The students were amazed by the sun tracks they were able to record with their cameras, so were we. In some pictures houses and trees could even be seen and the pupils eagerly shared stories about where they hung up their cameras.
After having talked about celestial bodies for such a long time, we dedicated the second lesson to earthly matters again. We talked about the Inuit - about some of their traditions, as well as their modern life. Using GoogleMaps, we looked at Iqaluit, one of the biggest Inuit cities. We then read an Inuit legend, where the crow brings the sunlight back to the Inuit, who had previously only lived in darkness. The pupils were encouraged to draw their favorite scenes, so we collected a whole set of creative and colorful pictures.
This project was supported by SCRIPT. We also want to thank the municipalities of Frisange, Schengen, Gonderange, Remich and Echternach for letting us realise our workshops in their schools. Not to forget Paradox 8 Studios from Mertert who developped the pictures for us.