Search form

About The Blogger

Gail S Hennessey's picture
Gail Skroback Hennessey taught for over 33 years, teaching sixth grade in all but two years. She earned a BA in early secondary education with a concentration in social studies and an MST in social...
Back to Blog

In the News: Antarctica! Interactive Notebook Activity

With more and more tourists visiting Antarctica each year(estimates are about 40,000 people), scientists have detected a problem with some of the penguins, native to the continent. Seems the birds are getting germs from the tourists and this could mean serious troubles. Scientists tested the droppings of penguins and found they contain human bacteria. It is the first such transfer, called “reverse zoonosis" every found, in Antarctica. The gentoo, king and macaroni penguins as well as several other birds, including the kelp gulls, giant petrels and brown skuas, are infected with human pathogens. The gentoo penguins are very endangered birds and it is feared that the human bacteria may cause the birds further survival issues. 

Your Turn:

  1. What are TWO facts you know about the continent of Antarctica? ______________________ and___________________________
  2. What would you suggest as a possible way to help these native creatures of Antarctica?  _________________________________
  3. Why do you think tourists want to go to Antarctica?     ______________________________________________________________
  4. Explain what “reverse zoonosis” means.    _______________________________________________________________________
  5. After 921 miles and 54 days, Colin O’Brady, has made history. He successfully crossed Antarctica, from coast to coast, unassisted and alone.  O’Brady, who called the trek, “The Impossible First”, dragged a 400 pound sled which carried his food, tent, a satellite phone, GPS tracker and fuel. He ate lots of oatmeal, soup and protein bars, trying for about 7000 calories per day to keep his energy levels up. During the journey, O’ Brady endured 30 mph winds ,extremely cold temperatures, averaging -40F degrees, and the solitude of not seeing anyone else! Another man,Louis Rudd, was also trying to be the first person to accomplish this task. About 70 miles away,O’Brady waited for Rudd to complete his journey, too. O’Brady has also climbed Mt. Everest and the other six highest peaks on each continent. 

Your Turn: 

  1. What would be ONE personal item you would pack in your sled for such a journey? Why?________________________________________
  2. Pretend you are O’Brady and list three things you would think about as you trekked across Antarctica.______________________________
  3. What would be ONE fear you would have about such a journey?____________________________________________________________
  4. What would be the hardest thing to deal with in such a journey?  ____________________________________________________________
  5. O’Brady waited for Rudd to finish his trek across Antarctica. Would you have done this?_________________________________________
  6. State an adventure that you would like to take sometime in your life. _________________________________________________________
  7. What do you think O’Brady meant by his calling his trek, “The Impossible First”?_________________________________________________

Did You Know?

  1. The continent of Antarctica was once part of a larger mass mass called Gondwanaland. India, Australia, SA and Africa were also part of Gondwanaland.
  2. The highest point in Antarctica is Vinson Massif. It is 16,070 ft. (4897 m)
  3. The coldest temp ever recorded was -128.6 F(-89.2 C)on  July 21, 1983, at the Russian Vostok Station, on Antarctica.
  4. Did you know that 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice and snow?
  5. Did you know that only 100 tourists are allowed to be ON Antarctica at any one time?
  6. The Antarctic Treaty states that “The area(Antarctica) is to be used for peaceful purposes only.”
  7. There are NO countries on the continent of Antarctica.
  8. From a Greek word, Antarctica means the opposite of north.
  9. Lake Vostoc is a fresh water lake UNDERNEATH the ice of Antarctica! It is estimated to be about the size of Lake Ontario. It is under 2.29 MILES of ice.
  10. It was only in 1820 that Antarctica was first seen by the outside world. It would take 20 more years before scientists determined it to be a continent.

Geographical web quest which introduces kids to the continent of Antarctica. There are 10 web quests(with lots of information in the questions), 14 Did You Know? facts, comprehension questions(including several "thought question"), a teacher page with a number of extension activities, additional links and key.> More info


Illustrations from