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Video Clip Synopsis:
In 1912, Mawson’s expedition arrived in the Antarctic. Little did they realise it was the windiest place on the globe.

2min 10sec

Mawson’s Expedition to the Antarctic is an excerpt from the film Antarctic Pioneers (30mins), produced in 1962.

Antarctic Pioneers: One of Australia’s most famous photographers and explorers, Frank Hurley, narrates this absorbing film on the history of Australia’s first expeditions to the Antarctic continent between 1911 and 1954. It includes remarkable, original footage of the expedition on the tall ship Aurora in 1911, the Campbell expedition in 1947 and the Law expedition in 1954.

Much of this film was made by Hurley when he accompanied Sir Douglas Mawson and an Australian party to the Antarctic in 1912, and on later expeditions. The program traces the history of the Australian expeditions between 1911 and 1914 and the establishment of Mawson Station. A rare film which reveals the true hardship and courage of these early pioneers.

Antarctic Pioneers was produced by the Commonwealth Film Unit with the co-operation of The Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: Science
Year: 7-8
Strand: Working scientifically
Theme: Science Work

Key Concepts

Environment; Ecology

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Working scientifically; Investigating; Materials and their uses
NSW:Science 4.5, 4.10, 5.10
NT:Science Band 3: CC3.1, WS 3.5
Qld:Science and society 4.1, Life and Living 3.3, 4.3
SA:Life systems 3.5
Tas:Creating sustainable futures: standards 3 and 4
Vic:Biological science 3.1, 4.1; Data handling and interpretation 4
WA:Learning outcomes: Science in daily Life, Life and living

Context / Background Information

This video clip shows an expedition led by Douglas Mawson to Antarctica in 1911. It was filmed by one of Australia's most famous photographers – Frank Hurley.

Antarctica is the highest, coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth. The early explorers travelled by boat to Antarctica and then used dogs or themselves to pull sleds which carried their supplies. They explored, mapped the coast and took weather measurements as well as documented the animal life. Today there are regular scientific expeditions to the Antarctic which are organised by the Australian Antarctic Division. Antarctica is also becoming a popular ecotourism destination.

Discussion Pointers

  1. Discuss what it would be like to go to Antarctica. What would you have to take and what would you have to bring back. How would a journey today differ from one 100 years ago?
  2. Brainstorm the types of research that scientists who go to Antarctica might do.
  3. Discuss why Antarctic research might be important for the rest of the world.

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Find a map of Antarctica and mark the different territories governed by different countries. Which other continent is closest to Antarctica? On your map mark Mawson Station and Australia’s sub-Antarctic colonies of Heard and Macquarie Islands.
  2. Use the Australian Antarctic Division web site to complete the rest of these activities.
    • List the different types of Australian scientists who are currently in the Antarctic and briefly describe their research.
    • Find out how to become part of a research team and what sorts of training and qualifications are required.
  3. Go to Classroom Antarctica and find out about Antarctic ecology. Construct a food web of Antarctic animals beginning with krill. Why are there no plants in Antarctica? Where do the krill feed?
  4. Go to Classroom Antarctica and find out more about the hole in the Ozone layer and how Antarctic research is finding out about this global problem.

Modules That Use This Clip

Science Year 7-8, SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10, English Year 9-10