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Subglacial Lake Ellsworth inspires students in USA

Inspiring the next generation

The Lake Ellsworth teams want to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.  This section of the web site links to award-winning learning resources for teachers and fun stuff to capture your imagination.

Teachers and students can learn more about Antarctica, its environment, geography and science by visiting

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Bob Fontaine teaches art at The Village School, a Montessori school in Waldwick, New Jersey, USA.  He develops art projects that are connected with other subject areas, including geography and science.  He discovered the Ellsworth project on the web and shared his fascination with his first second, and third grade students.  They were studying Antarctica in their regular class and Bob created an art/science/fantasy project for them to develop.

Each of forty-seven students created a portion of a large wall chart, nine feet wide by seven feet high.  After viewing slides of Antarctic ice walls and ice crystals, they drew forty-two panels of ice, each 12x18 inches.  Eighth grade students were given a math word problem to determine the proportional depth of ice to the depth of Lake Ellsworth: two miles of ice to 300 feet of water became a depth of 84 inches of ice to 2.4 inches of water in our chart.  The first, second, and third graders drew over 200 imaginary microbes that they thought could be found when samples are taken from Lake Ellsworth.  Their microbe drawings are just above the lake at the bottom of the chart.  They also drew a long length of drill pipe, stopping short of the lake because it has not yet been reached, and a drill station at the top of the chart. The students stood on a ladder to assemble the entire chart on the wall.

The children became very involved with the chart and began to understand the great depth of ice in Antarctica.  They were intrigued that even scientists did not know exactly what they might find in the lake or sediment.  It gave them the opportunity to think about what it might be like to explore the unknown.  It also gave them a chance to stretch their imaginations as they speculated about the nature of microbes never before seen.

Bob sent us photographs of their chart, including close-ups of some of their ice drawings and microbes.  We put them on the front cover of the Draft Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation Report.  Enjoy these and do let us know if the science of subglacial lakes inspires you.