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Polar science - lesson one
Polar science - lesson two
Polar science - lesson three

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Pole of cold lesson threePolar Science: Pole of Cold - Lesson three

“Flying into Yakutsk was like landing on a different planet” – Nick Middleton

Key Question

Why is Oymyakon the Pole of Cold?

Aim

  • Explore the factors which lead to places experiencing extreme cold
  • Identify the physical factors which affect Oymyakon
  • Explore the way that these factors combine in this geographical location

Documents to download

Starter

Some of the reasons why places are so cold are included on ‘The Cold Factor’ sheet from lesson one.

Students should work in groups. One person from the group is given a factor taken from the sheet, and has to act out the reason without speaking. This could also be done using a Pictionary, Taboo or Dingbats-style method.

Main

Oymyakon is officially the coldest place in the Northern Hemisphere. There is a neighbouring town called Verkhoyansk which also claims the title. What is it about Siberia that makes it so cold?

Hand out the ‘Oymyakon Interview’ resource which is a transcript of an interview with a resident of Oymyakon who knows about the geography of the place. Sadly, because of the incredibly cold temperatures, the voice recorder did not work properly, so the audio keeps ‘freezing’ and there are gaps.

Use the resource, along with other supporting materials from the Pole of Cold materials to reconstruct an explanation of why Siberia suffers such low temperatures.

Use the ‘Oymyakon explanation’ sheet to complete an explanation of why the temperatures are so extreme in this area.

If an iPad or similar device is available, students could use the Explain Everything, Showbie or similar app to capture an explanation with sound as well as text and images.

It might be worth hunting out a copy of Nick Middleton’s book of his journey to Oymyakon for his ‘Going to Extremes’ programme. Clips from the programme may be found online or you can view bits from the book on Amazon.

“Pen ink freezes. Batteries lose power faster. Metal sticks to skin. The first time I tried to take some still [pictures] with my camera the metal stuck to my nose.”  Nick Middleton

Plenary

Recap on the work done in the three sessions, and play the ‘Why’ Chain game.

Students make a statement about the reasons why Siberia is cold, or one of the issues caused by low temperatures, and then have to respond to the repeated question ‘Why?’ and see how many times they can answer before they run out of things to say
e.g.
Places further away from the ocean tend to have less extreme climates
Why ?
Well, because the oceans tends to be warmer in the winter, and cooler in the summer
Why ?
Water and land heat up and cool down at different rates, so….

Homework Task

Explore the Pole of Cold website, and use it to plan your own trip to Siberia.

What are the other options for travel rather than driving the whole way?

If you would rather not drive the ‘Road of Bones’, you might consider the Trans-Siberian railway.

Create some updates and pictures from your ‘journey’ in the same style as those of the Pole of Cold team.

Students could be asked to include some of the locations along the route followed by the team in their itinerary e.g. Lake Baikal.

Extension Tasks

One of the factors that influences the weather in a place is the wind. This creates what is called wind chill which makes temperatures ‘feel’ colder than they actually are by speeding up heat loss from the body.

Use this wind visualisation tool to explore the current winds in the area around Oymyakon. How strong are the winds, and which direction are they blowing from?

Use the website above, and other research to assess the relative claims of Oymayakon and Verkhoyansk to be ‘the Pole of Cold’ for the northern hemisphere.

Imagine flying over Siberia looking at the landscape below, and create a resource in the style of those that have been created already for the RGS-IBG’s Hidden Journeys website.

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