KS2: Robert Falcon Scott

Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated journey to the South Pole is brought to life in this short animated film for primary pupils.

As we relive the epic adventure, we discuss letter writing, working with averages and temperature change, maps and scale, polar habitats, properties of materials, topographical features and climate conditions.

This short film is from the BBC series, Explorers.

Teacher Notes

This short film could be used as a starting point for a topic focused on the polar regions, or Scott himself.

Alternatively it could be used in conjunction with one or more of the other Explorers films to compare exploration at different times in history.

Scott came from Plymouth. Your pupils could explore Devon’s rich history of explorers and how they have changed Britain.

The film introduces some aspects of the geography of the South Pole:

  • This could be investigated further through looking at maps and atlases and exploring the topography and climate of the polar ice biome.
  • The climate could be compared to that of other regions explored in the other films, for example the tropical climate experienced by Christopher Columbus or the desert climate experienced by Ibn Battuta.
  • Pupils could plot Scott's journey using digital mapping tools.

This short film is also a perfect starting point for learning about the living things found in and around the South Pole:

  • You could use classification keys to help group, identify and name living things, and construct and interpret food chains and food webs using animals found in the ocean around the Antarctic.
  • You could also learn about the life cycles of polar animals, discuss how the environment is affected by humans, or discuss how polar animals have adapted to survive in the cold.

The film also introduces the idea of insulating materials in the explorers' clothes, which could be linked to science work on the properties of materials:

  • Pupils could carry out an experiment using ice and insulating or conducting materials such as wool and foil – which is best at keeping the ice frozen?
  • Alternatively you could link this to work on forces and friction: investigate moving over ice and snow and the influence of friction. Why did they use sledges to carry their equipment?

Maths, geography and science skills could be combined when looking at average temperatures and comparing average temperatures in the Antarctic to those in England. Pupils could learn about negative numbers in this real life context.

The film shows Robert Falcon Scott writing a letter home to his wife, which is a great starting point for learning about letter writing:

  • Your pupils could write their own letters home or write a letter to Robert Falcon Scott or another explorer.
  • Alternatively you could investigate the diaries written by the explorers and focus on diary writing.

Pupils could use their technology skills to design and make an insulated tent for the polar explorers to use, or mittens that would keep hands warm at freezing temperatures, or a sledge that would move smoothly over snow.

In art, you could look at Edward Wilson's watercolour painting of a bird, discovered in a hut in Antarctica in 2017, and have a go at painting similarly detailed watercolours of Antarctic birds and animals.

Curriculum Notes

This short film could be used to study a variety of cross-curricular topics at KS2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 2nd Level in Scotland. Including;

  • Science
  • Geography
  • English
  • History
  • Design and technology
  • Art
  • Maths

More from Explorers

Neil Armstrong
Christopher Columbus
Amelia Earhart
Ibn Battuta