Lesson 1: Introducing the Arctic

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Enduring Understanding: What's the point?

In this lesson students will be introduced to the Arctic, its ecosystems, species, and climate by Geoff Green, founder of Students on Ice (SOI). Students will meet Geoff, learn about his career and the SOI program, and have the opportunity to explore an overview of the Arctic. Students will develop an understanding of key features of Arctic ecosystems and how the Arctic eco-region influences Canada.

Essential/Guiding Question:

What is the “Arctic” and why is it important to learn about?

Curriculum Links:

Science, Biology, Geography

Lesson Framework:

Time required:

1 class period (could be shortened or extended depending on use of adaptations, enrichments, and extensions)


  • Computer lab or tablets/notebooks/laptop cart with internet access.
  • Method of recording observations and reflections

Lesson Content


Students should have some background on ecosystems, eco-regions, and Canadian biomes. This lesson is meant as a baseline introduction to the Canadian Arctic and will cover a variety of Arctic related topics through the eyes of Geoff Green, founder of Students On Ice. This lesson leads nicely into the other lessons which examine specific topics in further depth.


Watch the video recap of the 2012 Arctic Youth Expedition on the Students On Ice website (video is approximately 7 minutes long). Discuss some of the unique aspects of the Arctic that were seen in the video.


On the Expedition Arctic website, students will follow the “Team” link at the top of the page, and select Geoff Green.  While exploring the page by following along with Geoff, have students write down observations and reflections. Have students think about the following:

Specific questions:

  • What makes the Arctic a unique region within Canada?
  • Why is the Arctic important to the rest of Canada?
  • How are you connected to the Arctic?
  • Why study the Arctic?
  • What is an eco-region?
  • What are some of the organisms who call the Arctic home?
  • What are some of the current ecological issues in the Arctic?
  • What is the significance of the Students On Ice program?

General questions:

  • What interested you the most?
  • What surprised you to learn?
  • What is one thing that you would like to know more about?

Formative Assessment/Debrief:

Think-Pair-Share (Students are given time to think about their response to a specific question or topic, pair up with a partner and discuss, and then share their collective thoughts with the class or another pair).

  • Based on reflection questions
  • Based on guiding question

Have a class discussion based around reflection questions.

Split into small groups and create a poster answer to guiding question using flipchart paper.



Use a SMART Board to explore the site as a class, in part or in whole.


Students can continue on to explore the other sections of the website including 360 expedition vistas, and the virtual collection of Arctic specimens.


Expand the activity, by using Lesson 2: Explorations in Science, to guide learning about scientist’s careers to fulfill career expectations of science curriculum.

Link this lesson to the closer examination of Arctic food webs and trophic structures using Lesson 3: Arctic Food Webs.

Explore Arctic marine organisms using Lesson 4: Arctic Aquatic Life.

Learn about adaptations of organisms to extreme environments through Lesson 5: Life at the Top of the World.

Link this lesson to the geology of the Arctic over time using Lesson 6: The Age of Ice

Learn about fossil records and what Arctic fossils can teach us with Lesson 7: Ancient Arctic.

Explore how changes in the global climate are affecting the Arctic, and how these changes affect the rest of the world in Lesson 8: Changing Climate.