Resource Type
Middle School and Up
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Lollie Garay
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A USGS RADARSAT Image map of Antarctica -shows all of the geographic points I have included and is a large group-sized map. Quantity will depend on class/group size. I use 1 map for every 4-6 students and recommend laminating it. I actually cut it in half to fit our school’s laminating machine and was able to match it up just fine!
Wipe-off markers to identify locations.
One copy of the questions. (attached) Copy of Teacher answer key (attached). These can be modified to your learning objectives.
One copy of the Lat/Long key
30 envelopes or pockets labeled with the names of the geographic locations from the lat/long
Index cards
Tri-panel, poster board, etc. for displaying labeled envelopes. (optional)
For Version 1: Student Data Log
For Version 2: Access to Internet and Student Data Log
General Polar Science


This versatile activity was inspired by my own Antarctic voyage (Lollie Garay, Oden Expedition 07) and The Amazing Race. As my students followed the journey through the Antarctic Seas on a USGS map, I realized what a great opportunity this was for them to "see" where I was in a part of the world so foreign to us. It also made me realize how little of the continent we knew about. Using lat/long coordinates and research skills, students can learn about the geography, history, and climate of this incredible continent in an engaging format. The format of this activity allows flexibility in modifying it to fit any Polar study.

  • This lesson can be adapted to an online (virtual) lesson by giving students the Lats/Longs and an online map. Students will find locations on the map and describe them (ice shelf, etc.). All locations must be identified. Teachers can choose whether to make it a competitive race or not. The main learning objective is mapping skills.


  1. To enhance map skills using lat/long coordinates

  2. To identify geographic locations on the continent of Antarctica and its seas

  3. To provide an engaging mechanism for review or assessment at the end of an Antarctic study

  4. To provide a research-based activity students would enjoy doing while learning about the geography/environment of Antarctica


Version 1 – One-two class periods

Version 2 – Two or more class periods

Version 1

This version can be used as a pre/post assessment or for review. If using for review or post assessment, all the topics must have already been studied. All the information used for the questions and answers here came from Antarctica, written by Edward G. Atkins and Larry Engel under the auspices of and in cooperation with The Office of Polar Programs and the Informal Science Education Program, National Science Foundation. Teachers can modify the questions to fit the resources they use.

  • Cut out questions and glue to index cards- laminate for longer use.

  • Label lower backside of envelope with location name from Lat/Long Key.

  • Glue envelopes with front side back onto tri-panel, poster board, etc; or you may simply lay them on a table.

  • Insert any question card inside.

  • Make enough copies of Student Data Log as required. If you are using this as review, you may not need the Data Log.

Version 2

  • Copy of Student Data Log for each student or team. You will need to make additional copies of the second page for each team.


Version 1 (one-two class periods)

  • Tri-panel or board with envelopes set up for easy access to students

  • Distribute Student Data Logs and read over the instructions

  • Students will work individually or in teams to find the locations given the Lat/Long

  • When they identify the location, they will go to the corresponding envelope and read the question

  • Answers to the questions will be written in the Log

  • Completed Logs will be handed in as directed

  • This version gives the teacher many options: to be done as a group aloud; to be worked in teams; to be timed for competition, etc. Teachers will determine how it is best used.

Version 2 (two or more class periods)

  • This version can be used at any point in a study, but is optimal after students have been studying about the various research and methods used in Polar Studies. PolarTREC expeditions are a great way to introduce them to many research projects and methods!

  • Distribute Student Data Logs and read over directions

  • Assign work to partners or teams (remember they will have to share maps).

  • As per directions, students will use the Lat/Long coordinates to mark the location on the map then record the name in the Log.

  • For each location, they will give a brief description. Ex: ice shelf, volcano, research station etc.

  • Next, they will find out about its history. Ex: when it was discovered or named, when it was established, etc.

  • Based on what they have learned, they will propose the research they will do there and the methods they will use. Ex: Ice core drilling on the edge of the ice shelf to measure the presence of CO2

  • This version works well with middle school students working in competitive teams. Before they can proceed to the next lat/long, they have to show the teacher that they have included all information required. If not, they have to continue to work on it before they can advance! It's a race!


  • My students suggested that I include "a task" they have to do along with the Log at each location - stay tuned for the modification!!

  • This activity has many uses. Other ideas have been discussed in the lesson. I have also used this activity in family science events and teacher workshops. I'd like to know how you use it!!


  • Arctic/Antarctic expedition experiences between teachers and researchers documented through photos and journals. Site includes additional resource information, links, and activities for Polar Studies.

  • Maps –

  • Antarctica, Edward G. Atkins Ph.D and Larry Engel in cooperation with the Office of Polar Programs and the Informal Science Education Program, National Science Foundation, 2001, Sesame Workshop.


Version 1

  • Will depend on use

  • Communicated concept understanding

  • Ability to find locations using Lat/Long and number of correct answers will determine points/grades if applicable

  • Completion of Data Log if applicable

Version 2

  • Completion of Data Log (see rubric attached)


Lollie Garay, PolarTREC Oden Expedition 07, lolgaray [at]

Note: Users are free to download, share and remix but with original credit to author


5-8 Content Standard D: Earth and Space Science: Content Standard F: Science In Personal and Social Perspectives: a. Structure of the earth system b. Earth's history b. Populations, resources, and environments e. Science and technology in society

Standards Other

TEKS (Texas-Science)

Version 1 – 5.9, 5.11A, 5.12A; 6.8C,6.12C; 7.12; 8.6C Version 2 – 6.6C; 7.14; 8.12B, 14

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This program is supported by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed by this program are those of the PIs and coordinating team, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.