Antarctic E-Mail Social Studies Lesson

Author: Marc Sheehan

Title: Southern Exposure

Content Area: Social Studies, Science

Grade: Third

Materials Needed: Paper, pencils, overhead pens, Internet/electronic mail access

Objectives: The students will demonstrate prior knowledge of the Antarctic (geography, population, etc.) They will also speculate on what kinds of people go to Antarctica and why those people go to live there. The students will speculate on what life is like in Antarctica. Finally, the students will develop questions they can ask of researchers living at the Amundsen-Scott Research Station in Antarctica.

Time: 25-35 minutes

Introduction: This lesson will begin with my asking the students to tell me what do they know about Antarctica ("What can you tell me about Antarctica?"). I will list the answers (8-10 possible) on the overhead projector. I will attempt to guide the discussion with these questions: "Do any people live in Antarctica? Who lives there? Why might people go to live in Antarctica? What do you think life might be like in Antarctica?"

Procedure: Once we reach the "what do you think life in Antarctica is like" stage, I will have the students write down on a sheet of paper what they think life at the South Pole would be like ("I would like you to take out a sheet of paper and write your name down. Then put down your pencils and listen to me. I want you to write down what you think life in Antarctica would be like. You will be working alone when you do this. You could say 'It would be cold, it would be lonely," whatever. We will share some of the answers when we are done."). The students will be working on their own. Once this activity is done (4-5 students share answers), I will have the students think of a question they would like to ask someone who lives in Antarctica. ("We are all wondering what life in Antarctica is like. How about asking someone who lives there now? I want you to think of a question you would like to ask someone who lives down there in Antarctica. You can ask if they get lonely, what kind of food do they have, how big their room is, whatever. I will collect your questions, and then I will send them to a research station in Antarctica through my electronic mail account. I should have the answers back in a couple of weeks. Then I will bring the answers back here for us to read.")

Note: The station can be found at:

Closure: I will have a few students share their questions in front of the class ("Who wants to share their question?"). Since the answers to our questions will not come for at least a few days, full closure will not be immediate. Once we get the answers back, we will read them and then I will have the students write down two things they learned about life in Antarctica. ("I want you to write down two things we learned from the answers we got back from Antarctica.")

Assessment: I will collect the students' responses and see if they have written down a guess on what Antarctic life is like and I will also look for a the students' questions for the scientists. Once we get the answers back, I will look for two new things the students learned about Antarctica and what life is like there.

Special needs: Emphasize concrete information for students who perform at low levels. Example: A child with Mental Retardation could practice writing a sentence while the class works on questions. These students will also be able to answer recall questions, but a teacher will have to put the idea in their head first.("What is Antarctica like?" "It is cold.) Students with a learning disability could tell the teacher their question and also what they learned orally instead of writing the information down. Students can also draw what they think Antarctica looks like and how people live down there (ex: Draw people living under a large dome in Antarctica.) Gifted kids could think of an extra question, harder questions, or perhaps they could write down different information from the other students. Instead of writing "It is cold," or "The snow is dry," they could write about the animals found in Antarctica or where the station is located.

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