The APECS entities of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg have, after some skype sessions last fall, decided to team up to organize an international outreach project within the context of Antarctica Day for elementary school children.
Antarctica Day is a tradition within APECS and usually revolves around outreach projects teaching young children about Antarctica (or, in this case, polar science in general). Many entities have been involved in the flag projects, where children were asked to design a flag for Antarctica. Many of these flags are now at Antarctic field stations.
This year, the three APECS entities collaborated with artist Udo Prinsen to set up a solargraphy project for researchers and school children alike. Solargraphy, tracking the movement of the sun through the sky using pinhole cameras and long exposure times (6 months!), enables children to see how the sun moves through the sky. This is a major factor in our climate system and also explains the climate at the poles and polar night and polar day. Apart from that, the resulting images are wonderful to look at:
The programme developed by the three APECS entities and Udo is centered around a mini lecture and videos explaining how the earth revolves around the sun and how this causes the phenomena mentioned above. Afterwards, the children install pinhole cameras at strategic places around their school. This is determined in a tiny brainstorm with the children (where does the sun rise and set, and how can we best capture it?). Additionally, individual APECS members contribute some slides with images and stories of their polar research topics, to demonstrate the importance of polar ecosystems and tell a bit about how it is to work as a scientist.
Children from various schools in the Benelux area (1 to 6 schools per country) will open the pinhole cameras around the winter solstice and collect them again around the summer solstice. This way, they can study the trajectory of the sun across seasons. Additionally, pinhole cameras have been distributed among scientists working at polar stations, and will be distributed to more stations in the future. This will result in a set of solargraphs from various climate zones, which will be represented in an online exhibition after the summer of 2019. The children’s photographs will also be part of the exhibition.