Yesterday I had a wonderful time at St Kevins Primary School, Eastwood, doing a talk on my experiences in Antarctica for Year 5 students. And what a welcome committee! Brett Salakas, the teacher, had arranged for a number of the children, including Bella Mincer, to meet me as I arrived and usher me into a special morning tea. On the walls of the classroom I could see the work the children had been doing on Antarctica. Brett is keen to encourage them to think laterally because they will live in a world where the challenges and technology will be different from today. Gone are the days (my day!) when memorising facts was the focus. Brett divided the class into groups and each group explored a particular theme: threats to animals, climate change, mining and military presence, whaling and so on. They explored these issues by looking at the past, the present and the future. Best of all, Brett had read my Antarctic thriller, THIRST, and decided to set the class a project: they were to create their own Antarctic station. Some created them in Lego or drew them, and some created a three dimensional computer graphic so that you could “walk through” their station. Bella Mincher set up her own website and called her station Thirst station, after my book. I couldn’t believe how inventive and also tech-savvy these children are! I was so impressed.
I was there simply to supplement the teacher’s work and share my first-hand experiences of life in Antarctica, the animal and bird life, the abandoned stations I visited, the clothing we wore (complete with practical demonstration of my canary yellow parka) and we talked quite a bit about The Antarctic Treaty and Australia’s role in protecting and preserving this frozen continent. We had great fun and lots of volunteers helped me out.
I was presented with some lovely gifts afterwards and one very peculiar one – a lettuce! But not any old lettuce. No. An iceberg! I am glad to see that Brett and his class have a good sense of humour. I have to confess, though, that when I got home my dog ate the “iceberg”!
Thank you to everyone for having me at your school. I had a ball!