Magazine article Teach

LESSON TWO the Arctic Environment

Magazine article Teach

LESSON TWO the Arctic Environment

Article excerpt


Arctic Climate, Vegetation, Landforms, Ice, Weather


3 to 4 classes

80 Degrees North tells the remarkable story of Canada's first Arctic Expedition that began over 100 years ago. Led by the noted and controversial Arctic explorer, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, the expedition members experienced extreme conditions and staggering challenges. The flagship of the expedition, the Karluk, became caught in the ice and was lost early on. Twenty-two individuals and the ship's mascot, a cat, survived. The ship's captain, Robert Bartlett, trekked hundreds of miles over the ice in harsh conditions to effect the rescue. Divided into two parties, North and South, each had a separate mandate. The Southern Party, led by Dr. R.M. Anderson, noted zoologist and Stefansson's partner on a previous expedition, examined flora and fauna and mapped the Mackenzie River Delta. The Northern Party, led by Stefansson, explored the Western Arctic searching for new lands to be claimed for Canada and Britain in a bid to maintain sovereignty over the north. Despite setbacks and even, tragedy, both parties managed to fulfill their objectives. In particular, the findings of the Southern Party provided the basis of knowledge for Canadian scientists and researchers of the Arctic and Inuit peoples for decades to come.


Aboriginal: refers to all indigenous peoples in Canada, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit

First Nation: refers to all the Aboriginal nations of North America (formerly tribes and includes over 65 different languages) except the Métis and Inuit

Métis: refers to Aboriginal people who are of First Nations and French descent

Inuit: refers to Aboriginal people who speak Inuktitut and live in Arctic Canada

Copper Inuit: refers to a specific group of Canadian Inuit people who relied on the use of native copper of the region

Inupiat: refers to a specific group of Alaska Native people


Students will examine diverse environmental factors influencing the Arctic and outline characteristics of Earth's major biomes, including the tundra, and/or outline the criteria used to define selected Canadian ecozones and describe the processes and interactions that shape those ecozones, and/or describe and compare the natural characteristics of the equatorial, mid-latitude and polar regions of the Americas. Students will investigate and communicate their findings about interrelationships within the Arctic ecosystem and between it and other ecosystems. In an extension activity, they have the opportunity to reflect on the impact of tourism on a fragile environment.


Graphic novel, 80 Degrees North

Topographic map of Canada/climate map of Canada

Computers with Internet access

Writing paper and utensils

Poster board, poster cards, tape, and markers or

presentation programs on a computer or device


The overall expectations listed below serve as an entry point for teachers. Teachers are encouraged to make connections to specific expectations in their region and grade.

Students will:

* Explain how various characteristics of Canada's natural environment can be used to divide the country into different physical regions

* Describe the natural characteristics of the polar region/ecosystem of North America and/or describe the patterns of natural characteristics in the Americas

* Review the geographic concept of interrelationship and analyze the interrelationships within the Arctic ecosystem and between it and other ecosystems



Ask students whether any of them have visited the North and if any have, ask them to share what it was like. If none have, discuss what students think the physical environment might be like for example, what they might see, feel, hear, and so on. Have them tell what landforms they would expect to see and what the weather might be like. …

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