As a follow-up to the International Polar Year, the International Polar Foundation (IPF) launched the Polar Quest project in September 2010, centring around the Belgian Princess Elisabeth Antarctica (PEA)station. Building on the success of the first Polar Quest, a second competition was launched in October 2013.
Polar Quest is a contest for 5th grade classes (17 years old) with the teacher of the winning class gaining the unique opportunity to join the technical and/or scientific team at PEA in Antarctica. In the first phase of the contest the students need to submit a short movie, in the second phase they need to prepare a project proposal and present it in front of a professional jury. The IPF offers support by organising workshops and providing educational material.
After his/her Antarctic expedition the teacher becomes a polar ambassador and will inspire his students year after year. He/she will also collaborate with the IPF to develop new educational material. These resources will be made available on EducaPoles. By offering free educational material in three languages (French, Dutch and English), we hope that this local project will have a global outreach.
Polar Quest 2
The principal theme of Polar Quest 2 is sustainable energy, with PEA as a showcase. It was launched in October 2013. To enter the competition, the class must design an energy project which they will carry out the 2014-15 school year. The winning teacher will go to PEA during the Antarctic summer season 2014-2015 for 4 to 6 weeks. By the end of May the winning class will be announced. The project aims to:
- raise students' awareness of sustainable energy and encourage their creativity, technology and communication skills.
- Increase students' interest in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) careers.
- Develop new educational material to translate sustainable energy management to the classroom through inquiry-based learning.
Polar Quest 2 is supported by Brussels-Capital Region and Wallonie.
The first Polar Quest
The principal theme of the first edition of Polar Quest was polar research. The contest (academic year 2010-2011) was won by teacher Koen Meirlaen and his students of the Leiepoort Deinze campus Sint-Hendrik with their AHA project. It was aimed to:
- Increase students' understanding of and engagement in the Polar Regions and interest in polar science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) careers.
- Improve teacher content knowledge of multidisciplinary polar science.
- Develop new educational material to translate polar science to the classroom through inquiry-based learning.
- Improve polar researchers' understanding of and engagement in K-12 education to strengthen and enrich the outreach and dissemination of their research
It was supported by the Flemish Government’s “Wetenschap maakt knap” action plan. Here is a short video summarizing what it was all about.