Search for Atlantis is on the timetable

20th February 1998 at 00:00
Pupils at a Devon comprehensive school will be getting a taste for adventure when explorer Colonel John Blashford-Snell goes in search of the legendary lost city of Atlantis.

Brixham Community College will operate the communication link via satellite and computer for the Kota Mama expedition, which begins early next month.

"I think it's about trying to make education relevant, vibrant and adding another dimension to the classroom. It's all changed from when I was a schoolboy. I remember some awful lessons - they were very dull and we learned nothing. I wish someone had found a way to make Latin that interesting, " said Col Blashford-Snell.

Using traditional reed boats, he and his 30-strong team aim to navigate the Desaguadero river between Lakes Titicaca and Poopo in Bolivia.

Following in the wake of Thor Heyerdahl's famous Kon-Tiki expedition, the team aims to show that ancient civilisations used reed boats to travel throughout South America and beyond. They will also investigate theories that the site of Atlantis lies below the waters of Lake Poopo.

And pupils at Brixham Community College, which was chosen by the British chapter of The Explorers' Club for the task, will play a vital role in relaying the team's findings over the next three years.

Expedition members will contact the school via satellite telephone, and send digital video images. Pupils will then put the information on a website and other schools will be encouraged to link up via the Internet.

Information gleaned over the Internet from Kota Mama will also be used in music, languages and geography, said deputy principal David Parker.

"I think the biggest benefit of this is that it's getting the kids interested. If nothing else, it will teach them that a love of geography and an appreciation of languages are important.

"And the technology side is the icing on the cake. It's showing a practical use of IT. We're using it for what it's supposed to be doing, which is communicating information."

Veteran adventurer Col Blashford-Snell said that the school's role would be a vital one. "They are our link to everyone else who wants to learn, whether in the UK or overseas. We are encouraging schools who are interested to contact Brixham and hopefully it will fan out from there.

"I think with the way that technology is moving, it's getting affordable for small charities like ours. And if we can get the co-operation of a school which is interested, as Brixham is, it's costing very little and it's making learning interesting."

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