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polar day

Schoolchildren explore careers in polar research

Published on: 20 November 2023

Hundreds of schoolchildren will visit Newcastle University this week to learn what it is like to be a polar researcher.

The ‘Exploring Polar Environments’ day has been organised by polar scientists at Newcastle University to help young people understand what polar science is and the career opportunities that exist.

The event has been organised to challenge stereotypes about polar science, who does it, what polar scientists do and how young people can get involved.

More than 300 students in years 9-11 from 11 schools across the North East will take part, including those with a high number of students who receive free school meals or are from diverse ethnicities. It is hoped that by engaging with young people from a wide range of backgrounds before they begin to think about university, a more diverse group will consider moving into polar science and ensure the field becomes more representative.

The free event on 20 November will cover a wide range of topics including studying polar regions from space, what we can learn about climate change from microscopic fossils, how indigenous people survive in the cold regions of North America and how arctic animals adapt to the cold.

There will also be sessions on how artificial intelligence and machine learning is increasingly being used throughout polar science to help forecast sea ice, track icebergs, guide research ships and even map caribou migration patterns.

Two panel discussions will also take place, covering careers in polar science and fieldwork at the poles, with a number of experts including from Newcastle University, Durham University, Northumbria University, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), and the British Geological Survey (BGS) talking about their own personal experiences.

The day will also include presentations on topics such as how drones can be used to collect data, how glaciers change, the practicalities of doing research in cold environments including the type of equipment teams must take with them, and the BAS virtual work experience programme.

Dr Bethan Davies, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, Newcastle University, said: “There is a huge variety in the types of research we mean when we talk about ‘polar science’. In fact, from data science to using satellites, you don’t even need to leave your desk to be at the cutting edge of work in this area. We hope the activities on offer and the range of experts who will talk about their work will inspire the next generation of scientists from all backgrounds to get into polar exploration.”  

The event coincides with Polar Pride 2023, a celebration of the contribution of LGBTQ+ people in STEM across the overseas territories including British Antarctic Territory. The first Polar Pride took place in 2018 and demonstrated a commitment to supporting and enhancing diversity in polar science.

The event takes place at Newcastle University and the Great North Museum:  Hancock, and is co-hosted with Northumbria and Durham universities, the British Antarctic Survey, Quaternary Research Association and Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling. It is being supported by the Royal Geographical Society, British Antarctic Survey, Liverpool University, Royal Holloway University and St Andrew’s University.

For more information about studying geography at Newcastle University visit


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