"Dinosaurs of Antarctica" tells the story of a changing environment at the bottom of the world. In ancient times, dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures roamed freely in a lush landscape. Over millions of years, geologic forces caused massive changes, completely altering the terrain. Today, the continent of Antarctica holds the evidence of that ancient world, frozen beneath its ice and snow. As the climate changes again, melting Antarctic ice is allowing scientists to discover the remains of the past — including the fossils of those distinctive dinosaurs.
Viewers of all ages will enjoy meeting the newest dinosaurs and other creatures in the film — as well as the scientists who explore the warming continent to find them and understand their habitat. Beyond presenting the reassembled skeletal structures on the giant screen, the film uses computer graphics to recreate the appearance and movement of the archaeological discoveries.
The backdrop of the story, however, goes beyond the dinosaurs to showcase the powerful forces of geologic change over time. Concepts like plate tectonics and continental drift come vividly to life as dynamic animations reveal the breakup of Pangaea into pieces including the southern landmass of Gondwana from which the continent known today as Antarctica will later emerge.
The film also offers a glimpse into the world of scientific field researchers. A diverse team of archaeologists and paleobotanists travel together to Antarctica in search of new evidence of the past. Their journey has many legs — first to New Zealand, then to McMurdo Station on the Antarctic icefield, and finally to Shackleton Glacier camp, their home for the season. From there, they venture even further by helicopter to remote sites for short stays of exploration. It’s rough and risky work, but their methods are careful and deliberate, designed to increase their odds of success.
"Dinosaurs of Antarctica" also features a companion collection of resources included here to help extend the film’s story beyond the theater.
Developed by experts at the Discovery Place Education Studio in Charlotte, North Carolina, the "Dinosaurs of Antarctica" camp curriculum presents a plan for engaging learners in the middle grades with a project-based exploration of the themes from the film. Educators working in informal settings like science centers or summer camps can fill a five-day camp session using the curriculum. Meanwhile, educators working in schools can also use the content as a unit of study for students. In either setting, the curriculum is designed to allow for shorter timeframes. While the curriculum targets learners in grades 6, 7, and 8, some of the content may be adaptable for other grades as well.
The content invites students to imagine they are joining a scientific expedition to Antarctica as interns. The activities are designed to help them ready themselves for the experience as they consider an overarching question: how does learning about Antarctica’s past help them appreciate that monitoring and minimizing human impact on the environment today is important?
The Educator Toolkit features an educator guide with a set of independent activities for use with learners in grades K-8 as well as other resources to help extend the story beyond the theater.
CONNECTIONS TO K-12 NATIONAL EDUCATION STANDARDS
The film’s content—especially its focus on geologic change over time—connects strongly with the Next Generation Science Standards. This presentation shows areas where the content can be used by K-12 educators to meet learning objectives within the NGSS.