If the ice cap fits...

26th January 2007 at 00:00
A Cardiff teacher will go to the end of the world to study climate change

An adventurous teacher will follow in the famous footsteps of Captain RF Scott next month on a fact-finding mission to the Antarctic. Joanne Hopkins, 28, will also keep a journal, as did the explorers who went before her.

The English teacher, who said she was bored in her day job, was chosen from dozens of entrants to take part in a 15-day expedition to set up an education centre on the icy continent. The aim of the new base is to teach young people around the world about the effects of climate change.

Miss Hopkins, from Cardiff high school, said she does not know how she will cope with the sub-zero temperatures or if her endurance will hold out. But she said: "This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I like to challenge myself and this is really extraordinary."

She had been considering some time out to teach abroad when a friend sent her a weblink about the competition. Now she will see the effects of climate change first-hand by observing icebergs and wildlife, including whales, dolphins and penguins. The trip will end with a live global broadcast to schools when the new centre opens.

The 60-strong expedition is being led by Robert Swan, the first person ever to walk to both the North and South Poles.

Miss Hopkins said: "There are lots of personal gains from this, but also for my school when I come back. It will be good to get children engaged in the topic."

The trip will begin in Ushuaia, Argentina, where Miss Hopkins and her colleagues will prepare to face the Antarctic.

The team will be fully trained and kitted out for the harsh conditions.

Their target destination is the Russian base at Bellingshausen, on King George Island, where the education centre will be based. They will also explore the Arctic peninsula.

The group's base will be mostly on the reinforced marine vessel Ushuaia.

But if the weather is kind enough to them, they will also camp on the mainland.

Miss Hopkins said she will incorporate her experience into her English lessons. "I want to write down what I see to include in non-fiction writing lessons when I get back," she said.

"I'm also a keen photographer, so I'll have pictures to illustrate it."

She is also in charge of out-of-hours activities at the school and will use her knowledge at summer classes.

"There are 20 hours' daylight and I'm curious about how one copes in that situation," she said. "I'm really looking forward to working with Robert Swan, helping to combat global warming and making children aware of the problem."

Techniquest and Cardiff council helped to run the competition for G24i, a renewable energy innovation company based at Wentloog, near Cardiff.

* aled.blake@tes.co.uk

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