What's it all about?
On this day in 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing became the first people to reach the summit of Everest, the world's highest mountain. The peak is 29,029 feet above sea level. Since then, 2,436 climbers have reached the summit, although the mountain has also claimed 210 lives. However, a National Geographic survey a couple of years ago found a third of adults think Everest is in Europe. It's actually on the border of Tibet and Nepal.
An assembly on Everest can make any number of points. You could explore the climbers' determination and the careful planning required to reach the summit. There were nearly 400 people in the group accompanying Hillary and Tenzing, and the climbers attributed their success to learning from the mistakes of previous failed expeditions. Ask the children to think of one thing they would like to achieve, whether scoring the winning goal at the next football game, or becoming a doctor when they grow up. What do they need to do to succeed? And what will it feel like when they reach the summit?
Alternatively, talk about the area surrounding the mountain and the lives of those who live there. Tourism to Everest provides a major source of income for the Nepalese, but it has also damaged the area. This is an opportunity to talk to secondary pupils about cultural sensitivity.
Help, I've got no time to prepare
Everest News (www.everestnews.comlessonplan.htm) and National Geographic (www.nationalgeographic.comeverest) have a number of lesson plans that could be adapted for assemblies.
Where do I get more information?
It's True! Everest Kills by Kim Wilson is aimed at ages eight to 11 and is packed with facts about the mountain and frostbitten climbers. The Royal Geography Society has a section full of resources for teachers: www.unlockingthearchives.rgs.orgthemeseverestdefault.aspx.