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Why does Antarctica matter?

‘Young Geographer of the Year’ winners 2015 ‘Young Geographer of the Year’ winners 2015 Howard Sayer
29 Apr
To celebrate the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, the 2015 Young Geographer of the Year competition asked pupils to answer the question ‘Why does Antarctica matter?’

Each year the RGS-IBG holds a national competition for pupils aged between nine and 18. Young Geographer of the Year aims to encourage pupils to engage with a specific geographical topic. Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3 and GCSE pupils submitted posters, while A level students were asked to write 1,500 word essays on the question, ‘Why does Antarctica matter?’, which could include illustrations, maps and graphs.

In December, the winning pupils in each age category, along with three highly commended entries, were invited to a special ceremony at the Society to receive their awards from Jane Rumble, Deputy Commissioner of the British Antarctic Territory (BAT), and Dr John Shears from the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI). This year's winners, from left to right, were: Amelia Bowling, Wendy Walford, Molly Hughes, Jack Rogers, Anisha Mehta, Anna Kelly, Anna Michaels, Rohan Woodcock, Fiona Tremelling, Lucy Wardrop, Jane Rumble (BAT), Catherine James, John Shears (SPRI), Rhiannon Fleming, Daniel Vaughan, Beaut Lersakrussamee, Jay Tonge, Elizabeth Huang, Christian Byrne, and Katie Banks.

Antarctica is truly a location that inspires people with wonder for the natural world and that’s why it’s so good to see the next generation of geographers recognising its value

Commenting on the winners, Steve Brace, Head of Education and Outdoor Learning at the Society, said: ‘Our competition winners have really understood why Antarctica is still so important today. Some have focused on its world-leading science, or its unique biodiversity and landscapes, while others have explored its fascinating history and modern governance. It’s truly a location that inspires people with wonder for the natural world and that’s why it’s so good to see the next generation of geographers recognising its value.’

The Society also announced the 2015 winner of the Rex Walford Award for a new or student teacher. Fiona Tremelling, from Windsor Girls’ School, was judged to have produced the best set of teaching resources linked to the competition question. Steve Brace said: ‘Fiona’s resources provided a series of lessons which connected her pupils to this frozen continent through the use of engaging activities and up-to-date information.’

The 2015 YGOTY competition was kindly supported by the British Antarctic Territory, Cotswold Outdoors, Esri UK, Ordnance Survey, Stanfords and Philip’s. 

The YGOTY 2015 award ceremony also saw the re-launch of the Discovering Antarctica website, produced jointly by the Society, the British Antarctic Survey, the British Antarctic Territory and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The website includes primary, secondary and A level resources on Antarctica. www.discoveringantarctica.org.uk

This was published in the May 2016 edition of Geographical magazine.

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