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Live investigations

Catlin Arctic Survey 2010: taking water samples

Putting into practice “working scientifically”, Digital Explorer ran five investigations twice a day for the five days of XL Catlin Arctic Live. The age-differentiated investigations were conducted in a morning and an afternoon session. Each investigation came with downloadable education resources and student sheets. A number of participating classrooms followed these simultaneously, while others followed the event by submitting questions.

Arctic Food Web (ages 6-11) – Friday, 4 May
Download the investigation sheets

Understanding food webs is important when thinking about microplastic pollution and its impact on marine life.

This food web activity introduced young people to a range of organisms that they could come across during an Arctic expedition. Students were asked to do research using secondary sources and identify, classify and group organisms to build an Arctic food web mobile.

Keeping Warm in the Arctic (ages 7-14) – Monday, 7 May
Download the investigation sheets
Surviving in the extreme conditions of the Arctic is very hard and explorers need a lot of kit to survive. One of the most important properties they are looking for in materials is insulation.

In this activity, students investigated different materials and compare how good they are as insulators. While waiting to measure and record the results, students were encouraged to think about how Arctic animals keep warm. They could pretend to be an Arctic animal and find out whether a layer of fat was a way of keeping warm in the Arctic, by trying on a pair of blubber gloves.

Ocean Acidification (ages 9-16) – Tuesday, 8 May
Download the investigation sheets
Increases of carbon dioxide in the ocean is lowering pH levels, thus impacting marine life.

This investigation aimed to show how water becomes more acidic when carbon dioxide was bubbled through it. Thus, it demonstrated the link between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and a process called ocean acidification, a change in the pH or acidity of the ocean. Students would observe over time the effects of acid (in this case, vinegar) on shells.

Microplastics Sampling (ages 11-16) – Wednesday, 9 May
Download the investigation sheets
Scientists have already identified microplastics in the Arctic, but how much is there?

Students thought about how to answer this question by considering appropriate sampling to conduct a fair test. This activity mirrored scientific investigation of algal content in ice core samples conducted during the Catlin Arctic Survey 2011.

Arctic Ice and Sea Level Rise (ages 7-14) – Thursday, 10 May
Download the investigation sheets
A common misconception is that melting sea ice in the Arctic will cause sea levels to rise.

This investigation provided students an opportunity to observe over time how the melting of different types of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic affected sea level rise.

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