For teachersFor teachers

Resources from the edge

Learning objectives

  • To discover the traditional resources that have been used for hundreds of years in the Arctic Region and the changes that are occurring
  • To understand the rich variety of resources available in the sea and on the land
  • To explore how climate change is affecting the exploitation of these resources

Pole position

Students could work in pairs firstly on the 1822 image then on the modern one to answer the question or the images could be projected onto an interactive whiteboard and annotated. Download of the images is available below.

Igloo 1822
1822 - Igloo, etching
an Icebreaker
Image by Knut Rasmussan taken on his travels 1921 - 1924 at what is now Arviat 61.06N 94.03W

1822 - Igloo, etching taken from the book 'Journal of a second voyage for the discovery of a North-West Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific performed in the years 1821-22-23, in His Majesty's Ships Fury and Hecla, under the orders of Captain William Edward Parry, R.N., F.R.S., and commander of the expedition'

The articles in the igloo are all obtained from local sources, the indigenous people of the Arctic had to be self sufficient. For example:

  • Bows for hunting made from bone and sinew.
  • Spears made from ivory
  • Bowls from the root of musk ox horn
  • Skins for clothing and shoes stone for cooking pots
  • Bone for fishing hooks and arrow heads
  • Seal and whale blubber oil for heating, lighting and cooking

Some materials came from outside the region:

  • Chips of iron-nickel meteorites, a limited source of iron metal, to form the cutting edges for tools such as an ulu and spear tips.
  • Driftwood for a variety of items including snow goggles as shown in the image below. The reasons for wearing the goggles could be discussed.

2009 - Simon's house, taken on the Arctic Voice Expedition

Inuit hut 2007
2009 - Simon's house

Old meets the new. The computer and furniture will come from Europe or America.

The meat is from caribou hunted locally and preapred using an ulu, single bladed cutting tool. A similar tool can be seen in the 1822 image. Meat is still prepared on the floor in the tradional manner.

Students could be asked to look at the similalrites and differences between the two images. A downloadable version of the images is provided below.

Using the land

This section explores the changing nature of subsistence husbandry and the variations throughout the Arctic Region. Students are asked to develop a programme to develop a programme for the protection and management of reindeer herds.

In the waters

An enquiry into 'How might less sea ice and affect the Arctic marine ecosystem and its exploitation?' using information in this section, the climate change chapter and web investigation.

Nature's riches

Students can use the resources of the section to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of oil and gas production in the Arctic Region. The geology of the region is explained and the effect of reduced ice cover on the exploitation of minerals discussed.

The video tells of one of the possible effects of mining for these resources on wildlife in the Umingmaktok area (located near Bathurst Inlet at 67° 41' N 107° 54' W in the Nunavut Territory).

Activity "What is the role of the Arctic in meeting future energy demands?"

This is a very complex subject with many lengthy reports. Students could be asked to work in groups on one of the sources and report back to the class when the information can be pooled and then a discussion take place as the role of the Arctic in meeting future energy demands.

Students could also discuss the extent to which those increasing demands could be mitigated and the extent to which people, flora and fauna are adapting to change. Teaching resources| Module 12: mitigation and adaptation at Climate4classrooms would be useful.

Polar pitstop

How do you think the import of resources from outside the Arctic region has affected the lives of the indigenous people?

This is an open ended question which should provoke discussion in groups or class using resources from elsewhere in the chapter. The picture is of the road to Qaanaaq airport. The airport has provided employment for 15 people, mostly clerical and managerial work for women, with a fire truck with a male crew, one male security officer and male baggage handlers as well. The provision of employment for the women allows the men in the family to carry on with the hunting traditions.

How many items in this picture do you think have been imported into the Qaanaaq region of Greenland? Make a list of them.

Teachers could give some hints about possible origins using the answers below.

  • Fur from Qaanaaq
  • Hickory sledge from USA
  • Rope from England
  • Primus stove from Denmark
  • High grade fuel for stove from Nigeria
  • Plastic bag from Denmark
  • Trousers from China
  • Ventile cotton for jacket from Egypt

'Do you think these imports are beneficial?'

Open ended discussion, there is some improvement to the quality of life, but there is also pollution and rubbish as the bottom two pictures show.

Images could be downloaded from the resources provided and laminated and the cards given out in sequence with the questions.

Images available for download

All images are in Word documents:

Powerpoint download

Additional information for Teachers examining shipping, business and geopolitical interest in the Arctic:

Teachers' notes

Notes on each chapter for information and tips on the activities in each section to help you plan how to use the site:


Home | 1: Climate change | 2: Living on the edge | 3: Arctic science | 4: Hunter or hunted? | 5: Postcard from the edge | 6: Troubled waters | 7: Resources from the edge | 8: Arctic Circumpolar Governance | 9: Snow, water, ice, permafrost | 10: Adapting to change

For teachers | Resource finder | Help | About the site/terms and conditions

Discovering Antarctica, our sister site