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Young Geographer of the Year Competition 2015

Why Antarctica Matters!

The theme of this competition coincides with the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, which aimed to complete the first crossing of Antarctica.

Year 5 and Year 6 girls were asked to produce an A3 poster to explore why Antarctica is so important for the world’s ecology and future.  Many girls entered and we held our own semi-finals to determine those girls whose work will be submitted to the national competition run by The Royal Geographic Society.  Well done to all the girls who took part and congratulations to our semi-finalists: Anna Michaels, Ayisha Durbar, Georgia Stacey, Hiba Jelassi, Imogen White Campbell, Lucy Dennett, Michaela Henderson, Mikaya Amarasuriya, Milly Lovering and Motoko Akiyama. 

Very many congratulations go to Anna Michaels, whose poster was judged by the RGS and received a Highly Commended award.  Anna attended the awards to receive her accolade and this is what she wrote of the experience:

“On Friday December 4th I went with my parents and Mrs Bower to the awards ceremony for the Royal Geographical Society’s ‘Why is Antarctica important?’ competition, held to commemorate the centenary of Shackleton’s expedition to the cold continent.

There were four age categories and in each there was an overall winner and three highly commended entries, out of what they said there were up to 10,000 overall participants.  My entry was highly commended.

I entered because I find Antarctica very interesting.  It is larger than Europe, yet it uninhabited (apart from researchers); it is one of the last great wildernesses and does not belong to anyone. It is also the subject of one of the most long-standing political agreements, known as The Antarctic Treaty, which protects it from countries claiming the land and from oil drilling, which could harm the unique wildlife.

We arrived at a grand, almost hidden building, on Exhibition Road near Hyde Park. We first came into the society and had a chance to look at all the other entries – they were really good! – and have tea and cake.  There were lots of interesting looking people milling about, owners of the posters, their teachers and parents.

Then we were ushered into a conference room and took our seats.  There were a few thought provoking and passionate speeches from people who had dedicated their lives to this amazing continent.  I asked one scientist whether you could go skiing in Antarctica, because it looked from the pictures in their presentations like a great place to go with lots of hills, and he said yes!

Then we were called up in our age categories to receive our prize: a framed certificate and a goodie bag which included an Ordnance Survey map of our home area specially printed with our names.  We shook hands with Jane Rumble (from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office) and had our picture taken. I felt extremely important.

Even more pictures were taken at Hyde Park for the society’s website (which you can view online shortly), and I was starting to feel I was a geography celebrity!

After a delicious buffet lunch we took advantage of our location and visited the society’s newly opened Enduring Eye exhibition. This is a whole collection of never-seen-before photos taken by Frank Hurley, the photographer in Shackleton’s team. He captured how life was for the crew during the unforgettable voyage. The photos soon revealed the immense courage, determination and, above all, unfailing optimism during the long struggle to reach home. It was really inspiring. We left with our goodie bags and lots of things to ponder on.  I had so many interesting conversations with people!”