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Tuesday, May 4, 1999 Published at 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK


Study notes from the frozen continent

Aurora over Halley research station (photo: BAS)

Secondary schools across the UK are being sent a free information pack about Antarctica, based on years of research by the British Antarctic Survey.

Worksheets and teachers' notes on the frozen continent will be made available to every secondary school, sixth form college and college of further education, with information on climate change, the hole in the ozone layer and other environmental issues.

[ image: British scientists discovered the ozone hole]
British scientists discovered the ozone hole
The British Antarctic Survey (BAS), which began in 1943 as a naval operation and is now funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, runs three research stations which are supplied by ships from the UK.

They operate in one of the most hostile environments to study the atmosphere, bird life and seals and Earth and biological sciences.

The discovery of the spring-time depletion of the ozone layer - the part of the atmosphere which protects the earth from the dangerous ultra-violet rays of the sun - was made in 1985 by Survey scientists.

The Director of the Cambridge-based BAS, Professor Chris Rapley, said understanding the area was "critical" to understanding the Earth.

Topics include tourism

"We need to capture the imagination of young people to create an awareness and understanding of the importance of Antarctica as a wilderness protected for science and peace," he said.

There are 15 student worksheets in the schools' pack, which is aimed at students aged 16-18. Topics covered range from the ozone hole to living and working in Antarctica and tourism.

[ image: Bird Island station: Up to 10,000 people work in Antarctica (photo: BAS)]
Bird Island station: Up to 10,000 people work in Antarctica (photo: BAS)
Students and teachers from Broomfield School, north London, were involved in testing the pack.

"There is nothing like it currently available," said their headteacher, Ian Lucas. "It is extremely useful, up-to-date and very accessible.

"The students really enjoy working with the pack as it brings Antarctica to life."

The education pack was funded by the Foreign Office and the Government of the British Antarctic Territory.

The Foreign Office Minister Baroness Symons said: "We have an enormous wealth of scientific expertise in this country which we have drawn on to enable students to study Antarctica using the latest, most accurate and relevant information."

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