Polar Puzzles

International Polar Foundation

International Polar Foundation

© International Polar Foundation

The "Puzzel je warm...experimenteer je koud" (Bamboozle yourself hot...experiment yourself cold again) project is intended to test the knowledge of young people about the North and South Poles. It comes up with a range of experiments that bring the issue of climate into the bright light of day. It also sounds out girls' interest and knowledge of science and ideas about the future, compared with boys'. This project is part of the "Wetenschapsinformatie en Innovatie actieplan" (Scientific Information and Innovation Plan), an initiative run by the Flemish government.

There's something wrong with our Earth

At the beginning of the 1980s, we all had the life scared out of us with news about the gaping hole in the ozone layer above the South Pole. The ozone layer is around 12 to 50 kilometres above our heads and protects life on Earth from harmful ultraviolet sunlight. But this shield was being adversely affected by the release into the atmosphere of substances containing chemicals such as chlorine and bromine. Fortunately, these products are now being replaced with more environmental-friendly alternatives.

Today, twenty-five years later, scientists are warning us about the rapid rate of climate change that our planet is currently experiencing. Startling observations, alarming statistics and ominous messages have convinced young people that there is something going wrong with the temperature on Earth. By now, many of them have heard the clock ticking, but are not sure when midnight will strike.

Making young people aware of the importance of the poles and polar research

It's a fact: most young people have heard things being said and reported about the poles, but usually in a very fragmented way. Many youngsters know that there is a North Pole and a South Pole, of course, but what it really means still remains a vague concept to them. Then there are others, for whom talk of the Far North and ice-shelves and explorers conjures up fabulous images: stories of windswept icy wastes told by intrepid adventurers, or the truly fascinating world of penguins, seals, whales and polar bears.

They usually know that the North and South Poles are suffering from the effects of global warming, too. What they don't know, though, is that both poles play a fundamental role in the issue of climate, so this is completely unfamiliar topic for them.

Having said that, it needs to be clearly understood that:

  • the polar regions play a key role in the Earth's climate system.
  • the polar regions provide us with an early-warning system for the threat posed by rising temperatures on Earth.
  • the polar regions contain the most amazing storage vaults for the history of the Earth's climate.

As a result, these fascinating polar regions provide us with the ideal tool for explaining to young people about the far-from-rosy problems relating to the climate and the jumble of factors that are all interlinked to form one giant whole.

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COP22 – time to act on climate change!

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The International Polar Foundation (IPF) participated in the recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties…

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