The 1st of December is internationally known as the Antarctica Day celebrates the signing of the Antarctic Treaty in Washington in 1959. This Treaty aims to protect the Antarctic continent (which represents 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. One of the main activities is the Flag project, where children are asked to design a flag for Antarctica, which are then brought and showcased in Antarctic field stations. Given the importance and the tradition, the BeNeLux APECS National Committees countries decided to join forces and organise an internationally coordinated outreach project for the Antarctica day in primary schools of the three countries.
The project evolves around Udo Prinsen’s artistic concept of documenting the sun’s trajectory with camerae obscurae. In all 3 countries camerae were hung by the pupils outside of the school premises. The reason behind this is to capture the course of the sun from the shortest day (21st December, winter solstice) until the longest day (21st June, summer solstice). Since camerae obscurae mostly capture light and shadow, the results shall show that the sun is lower in December and higher in June.
In order for the kids to better understand the functioning of camerae obscurae, we also held a workshop where they could build their own camera under our guidance and with the assistance of their teachers. Additionally, we took the opportunity to talk about night and day in the Arctic and in Antartica, and how they compare to our latitudes. 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.
Now, the students have to be patient until June in order to uninstall the cameras, which will then partially be developed by Udo Prinsen in the Netherlands and partially in the schools locally. As an end result, the pictures from all three countries will then be displayed in a joint online exhibition. We are looking forward to June, when we will top this workshop series by an artistic workshop on life in the Arctic.
Schengen LyzeumIn Luxembourg, APECS Luxembourg and polar.lu visited 5 and 6th graders in 6 classes from 4 different schools during the week of December 10th. We like like the primary schools of Remich, Frisange and Junglinster as well as for their enthusiastic participation in the Antarctica Day activities.
We would also like to thank our partners SCRIPT (Service de la Coordination de la Recherche et de l’Innovation pédagogiques et technologies), the Municipalities of Remich, Frisange and Junglinster for their financial support.