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

'From the Field' Awards

Inspiring fieldwork supported by the RGS-IBG

Pole of Cold lesson twoPolar Science: Pole of Cold - Lesson two

Key Question

  • What is life like in the freezer?
  • How does the cold affect people?


  • Explore how extreme cold affects people
  • Identify groups of people in the circum-Polar regions and their strategies for coping with the cold
  • Consider how we might cope with extreme cold if we found ourselves in a similar situation

Documents to download


Show the 5W’s PPT, which shows an image taken by the Pole of Cold team while on the road in Scandinavia.

Discuss some possible answers to the 5Ws

Look at the map of Eurasia and identify the countries which lie partly within the Arctic Circle

An extension activity, using a suitable map (or Google Earth) would be to plot the route of the Pole of Cold team, and identify the countries that they pass through during the expedition, and any major cities they are visiting.

Brief details on the route followed by the team can be seen in the Pole of Cold route spreadsheet file.


How will the cold affect a range of day-to-day activities that people living in the area need to carry out?

This is an image of the team’s vehicle: a Land Rover Defender 110

Pole of Cold Landrover

Watch this short VIMEO video.

Ask the question:  What changes might need to be made to a vehicle if it is to cope with icy roads, long hours of darkness, thick snow and very low temperatures?

Label these changes onto a copy of the Land Rover image.
Now show this short VIMEO video.

Let students read the garage report on suggested modifications.

How many of the suggestions that the students made were actually featured on the Land Rover which the team are using for the trip. Selected tweets from the trip could be used to show that the modifications were important.

What other equipment do you think the team will take with them?
Have you thought about all the possible problems that the team would expect to face?

How will the extremes of cold also affect the following:

  • Housing
  • Provision of services such as water and energy to houses
  • Jobs and industry
  • Health of people
  • Agriculture or food production

Students should be organised into five groups, and allocated one of the areas above to research, and provide suggestions for:

a) the problems caused by extreme cold, using real examples
b) some actual solutions that have been developed by people
c) some further solutions designed by the students

The Pole of Cold website and various social media streams can be used as a source of relevant information. Can students also think of other potential value (in its widest sense) in these remote places with their extreme cold temperatures?

Extension Task

Research the culture of people who live in these areas, and how it is influenced by the cold. This goes beyond the practicalities of day-to-day life, and reinforces the way that cold is deeply embedded in the way that people in Siberia and other areas think about their identity.

Connection with research

The Pole of Cold team have been exploring the idea of what the winter means to different people they have met on their travels. They have shared this on the Pole of Cold website, and this website will develop further over time. Check out the visits to Shamen and other people along the route.


Why do people continue to live in such extreme places?

There is a school in Oymyakon where pupils cope with the extreme conditions. Imagine going out to play at break time in sub-zero temperatures.

How else would the school day and routines have to change?

Produce some ideas for how your current school would have to adapt its rules and routines if you were to suddenly relocate to Oymyakon.

How would you change the uniform, or the timing of school holidays? What would you do for PE – change hockey to ice hockey perhaps?

Think creatively, and geographically. Try to find a solution to some of the issues that might arise because of your relocation.

Homework Task – Designing a smartphone app

Smartphones are increasingly common, even in remote locations. Users tend to install apps (small programs) which are connected with their interest and daily lives. They are generally designed to solve a problem, or help with a situation, e.g. checking whether a train is delayed, viewing the weather forecast or taking a ‘selfie’.

Design a suite of six apps, which would be useful for someone living in a remote Siberian location during the winter. These could be based on existing applications, and make use of the features of the smartphone e.g. location services, camera, video or sound recording facility etc. They could also have an element of ‘creativity’ in them, and include features that are not currently possible.

Use the polar app homework sheet to record the designs for the six apps

One of the apps should then be prepared for submission to the App store. This requires the completion of a submission form (PDF download) which provides opportunities for students to develop their thinking further, and connect it directly with one of the problems facing people living in Siberia.

Thanks to Tony Cassidy for the original inspiration for the smartphone app activity.

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