Winston Wong | Imperial College London


The Expedition team is delighted to be working closely with three London primary schools:
Timbercroft Primary School, Greenwich (
Notre Dame Primary School, Greenwich ( )
St Patrick’s Primary School, Camden ( )

Visits to schools

Members of the Expedition team visited each school during the summer of 2010 to explain about the Expedition and invite the children to get involved in the project. Expedition co-leader Andrew Regan recorded a special welcome video.


The schools have each appointed an ‘Antarctic champion’ – a member of staff who is the contact with the Expedition team and who is leading a series of classroom and other activities to encourage a good understanding of the Antarctica and its science before, during and after the Expedition. Members of the Expedition team have visited the schools. A special outreach day was held for Year 6 pupils at all schools at Imperial College on 13 September 2010. The schools will have regular update reports from the Expedition team during their time on the ice and will have special presentations on their return.

Meet the Champions

Paul Nichols is a Senior Administration Officer at Timbercroft Primary School. He looks after all the ICT resources in the school and is part of the team introducing the school’s managed learning environment. Paul’s background is in science and engineering and he’s keen to contribute as much as he can to science and technology within the school.
As Antarctic champion Paul is leading the ‘Polar’ topic in the second half of the autumn term. The school is building a dedicated ‘room’ within its managed learning environment, linked to the Expedition; this will include some challenges that the children can tackle at home.

Aine Molloy is the Year 3 teacher at St Patricks’s Catholic Primary School in Camden; she also leads the school’s work on Science, Sustainability and Health. Year 3’s topic for their second term will be Antarctica. ‘We’ll be learning all about Antarctica and doing lots of experiments trying to find out about life there. There will be other things happening in the school, with lots of literacy and maths based on Antarctica. We hope to hold an Antarctic Week’.

Rachel Vost is the Year 6 teacher at Notre Dame Catholic School in Plumstead. ‘My class and I are lucky to be involved with the Expedition and we are basing a lot of our learning around it.
‘After spending the day at Imperial College the children have a real passion for this topic and want to learn more. Each child has produced a paper mache penguin and in groups they have produced paper mache whales – 4 feet long! – after learning that they live in Antarctica. The children have also researched Roald Amundsen and produced biographies about him. We’ve been learning about insulation to understand the clothing needed in low temperatures; this is going to lead to history work on Edwardian explorers – what they looked like and what they wore. Over the coming weeks, the children are looking forward to hearing back from the Expedition and receiving data, which will help their data receiving skills. The children are also interested in learning how this topic links to the ozone layer and how the temperature in Antarctica compares with the temperature on other planets. 
‘The rest of the school has noticed how much we’re enjoying our topic, so we’ve decided that the whole school will do a 2-week mini-topic on Antarctica’.

Outreach Day at Imperial College London

Year 6 students from the three schools (approximately 100 children) were invited to attend Imperial College London for the day to meet members of the Expedition team, explore the Winston Wong Bio-Inspired Ice Vehicle and one of the Science Support Vehicles and learn more about the Antarctic. The day was organised and led by Stefan Algar, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College, who is Chair of Governors at Timbercroft School.
The Expedition’s co-leader Andrew Moon spoke about the Expedition and the background of each of the 11-man team. Jamie Bligh, Robin North and David Pearson were also present. The science of Expedition was explained and the cold-weather kit was explained and demonstrated.

A special demonstration of the Toumaz Sensium Pebble was made by Dr Panetlis Georgiou from the Winston Wong Centre for Bio-Inspired Technology. All Expedition members are going to wear the tiny monitoring device throughout their time on the ice; the device monitors all vital health signs – breathing, heart rate, pulse – 24/7. Dr Robin North acted as guinea pig for the demonstration to show how exercise affects heart rate.

A thank you letter after the Outreach Day

Practical demonstrations took place on how low temperatures affect the human body. The explorers expect temperatures of minus 30 degrees in November and December, which is summer in the Antarctic.

Cold hands demonstration

How much does cold affect your ability to do things? The children were very good at playing jenga (building with wooden blocks, then taking blocks away without collapsing the structure) – until they tried it with ice-cold hands. Then it was much harder.

The results show clearly how immersion into cold water reduces the body’s ability to do things. The colder the hand – the longer it takes to do simple tasks.  (These results were taken from a small number of experiments but if repeated a few more times then the grey trendline placed upon the graph would be the expected results).

Things that fall from space

The Expedition team will be gathering meteorites and returning them to Dr Matthew Genge at Imperial College London. Dr Genge is a world expert on meteorites and planetary science.

Meteorites can give us vital information about our planet and how it was formed. And Antarctica is one of the best places in the world to collect meteorites. In a vast white wilderness, it is relatively easy to find both meteorites and cosmic dust – both of which have fallen from the sky and are millions – even billions – of years old. In examining meteorites and cosmic dust – often from now-dead stars – scientists learn about how the universe was created.
There are different kinds of meteorites. The most common ones are Stony Rocks, which have a thin black crust which is formed as the rocks hurtle through the earth’s atmosphere at very high temperatures. There are also Iron and Metal meteorites and Stony Irons, which are a mixture of rock and iron.
David Pearson explained the different meteorites the team would be looking for and showed real examples of meteorites from the Imperial College collection.


The made-for-purpose vehicles, in which the team will travel, were described and the children were able to see the vehicles just before they set out on their journey to the South Pole.

Resources »


  • The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959, which puts all territorial claims on hold ? so no-one actually owns Antarctica. It has been set aside as a scientific preserve, and military activity is prohibited in the region.
  • The Antarctic is 48 times the size of the UK (14.4 million sq km). It is the world's only uninhabited continent.


Transantarctica Expedition


Andrew Moon and Andrew Regan will endeavour to cross the continent of Antarctica from the west coast to the South Pole...