Class@poles contest now closed

Class@Poles the educational contest within BE-POLES has now closed. Five classes contributed creative projects and have won a trip to the North.

  1. Project 1, The 'Collège Cardinal Mercier' in Braine-L'Alleud designed a thermal drilling machine, intended to penetrate vertically while dissolving the ice of the satellite Europa around Jupiter. A prototype could be constructed for testing at the Poles.
  2. Project 2, entitled 'Albedo', from another class in the same school, set up an experiment to test the impact of soot pollution on the melting of snow.
  3. Project 3, submitted by the 'Collège de Bellevue' in Dinant, focused on the Southern Ocean food chain. Special attention was paid to the very small organisms that serve as food for larger animals.
  4. Project 4, 'expedition Spitsberg' was geographically focused. A class from the 'Koninklijke Atheneum Wetteren' wondered whether the needle of a compass is always directed to the north.
  5. Project 5, was concerned about the health of the Inuit, endangered by the industrialised lifestyle of southern country people. The 'Koninklijk Atheneum Voskenslaan' in Gent wanted to study PCBs, metaloxides and pesticides in tissues of animals and human beings.

Each class delegated a junior research worker to take their question to the field during an expedition to the North in the Easter school holidays, 31 March to 16 April 2006.

During the first "leg" of the expedition, Tromsoe - Longyearbyen - Tromsoe a team of junior scientists could explore the Svalbard polar world through a visit to Tromsoe Museum. One surprise followed another during the exploration of a mine, and there was great amusement for all during introductions to dog sledging and snow scooting. Some time was also spent trying out the compass experiment (project 4).

The second "leg" started from the Arctic Circle, near the Svartisen glacier. At the legendary Lofoten islands the youngsters were introduced to a range of scientific themes, from geological processes on continental shelves in the Arctic region, to oceanic streams, and from sea birds and mammals to deep sea corals. There was also a focus on the reality of human impact on polar regions. The expedition leg was completed with a visit to Narvik war museum and the Hakon Mosby research vessel. Here some attention was paid to the compass study of project 4.

During both expedition legs the junior scientists were accompanied by polar experts from the Renard Centre of Marine Geology (Ghent University), native guides or scientists from the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS).