Antarctic Flags Project 2020-2021 Round-up

On December 1st 1959, 12 nations signed the Antarctic Treaty, a document declaring that Antarctica would be off limits to military activity and setting it aside as a place for peace and scientific discoveries. Since 2010, December 1st has been celebrated each year to mark this milestone of peace and to inspire future decisions.

Sixty years on, the Antarctic Treaty has expanded to include 54 countries and is a rare example of international cooperation. The Treaty governs much of the politics, activities and responsibilities within the Antarctic continent and waters south of 60 degrees latitude. For example, all scientific observations should be made freely available to all researchers, no military bases or weapons testing are allowed, and the dumping or burning of any rubbish is prohibited.

Every year since 2015 we have organised an outreach project – the Antarctica Day Flags Initiative – with the aim to spread the word about this world-wide collaboration and to inspires future generations.

As Antarctica does not have its own official flag, we ask participating schools to design one which they believe symbolises this continent. We at the UKPN (UK Polar Network) then pair the flags with researchers and station staff that are heading down to Antarctica for the Austral Summer (November-January). The flags are then transported all the way to Antarctica with these “flag bearers”. Upon the flags return, schools receive proof of travel with a certificate and photos of their journey.

Alongside designing the flags, we encourage schools to learn about Antarctica, its governance and the Treaty in their lessons. This year we received a diverse range of flag designs, from penguins (by far the most popular!), orcas, icebergs and mountains to designs representing peace and international cooperation.

A selection of flags designed by schools across the globe to celebrate Antarctica. Credit: UK Polar Network

A selection of flags designed by schools across the globe to celebrate Antarctica. Credit: UK Polar Network

 ‘Our student was so chuffed to see their flag in Antarctica, they are now researching how to become an Antarctic Scientist'! (Danielle Bate, Worcestershire Secondary School teacher)

It is truly great to see how the unique environment of Antarctica is inspiring the flag makers and the next generation of polar researchers!

This year presented its own challenges, with Covid-19 meaning Antarctic research programs reduced the number of scientists and staff heading South. We were nevertheless delighted at the involvement in our initiative, and sent 122 flags to Antarctica from 106 schools in 13 countries, including UK, Poland, Ireland, China, Germany, Cyprus, Singapore, Uganda, USA, Abu Dhabi and the Netherlands! Most flags have now made their journey back from Antarctica to the schools eagerly awaiting their return.

Some of the flags in Antarctica with research scientists, field assistants, station staff and research ship crew members!

Watch this space for more beautiful flags and more global connections between science, schools and Antarctica. Look out for details on how to take part in our next Antarctic Flags project in October 2021!

Jenny Arthur and Fiona Old (2020-21 Antarctic Flags project coordinators)

Email: Antarctica-day@polarnetwork.org

Twitter: @UKPolarNetwork, @AntarcticJenny, @fiona_616


Join us for Antarctica Day 2020!

Are you studying the frozen planet or the poles? Do you want to learn about the Antarctic Treaty and why we celebrate it on Antarctica Day? The UK Polar Network are offering you the opportunity to learn more about this and to design and send an Antarctic flag out down to Antarctica with a fantastic team of polar researchers!

Why celebrate Antarctica Day?

On December 1st 1959, 12 nations signed the Antarctic Treaty, a document declaring that Antarctica would be off limits to military activity and setting it aside as a place for peace and scientific discoveries. Since 2010, December 1st has been celebrated each year to mark this milestone of peace and to inspire future decisions. We hope to extend the celebrations worldwide through our Antarctic Flags initiative, giving new generations the opportunity to learn about the Antarctic Treaty and to share, interpret and cherish the values associated with Antarctica!

Are you a school teacher/ individual interested in sending a flag to Antarctica?

The aim of this initiative is to inspire new generations about the Antarctic and Antarctica Day. We have many school resources, including a class plan and a PowerPoint on how you can introduce the Antarctic and Antarctica Day to your classroom before having your students send their flags south. (If you would like the sample plan in another language, we have also included translations into ChineseFrenchSpanishPortuguese and Dutch).

The idea is that following a lesson(s) on Antarctica, your students design a flag for the

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Researcher Christine Dow and her team display a flag at South Korea's Jang Bogo Research Station.

Antarctic – as it does not have its own – based on what they have learnt. Given the current Covid-19 situation, we would like to emphasise that we can only accept 1 flag per school or classroom, so you could get your students to design their own flags and then select one or your whole class could design one together. Please ask your students to consider their design/colour choices - to be recognisable from a distance and against lots of bright snow, bright colours and designs work best!

We then ask you to send us a pdf of your flags (ideally scanned in rather than photos) and we will match them up with a researcher or engineer who will take them down to Antarctica. You will receive a photo of your flag in Antarctica together with a certificate letting you know which part of the continent your flag travelled to.

A penguin-themed flag from the British International School in Cairo, Egypt

So far we have had schools and researchers from over 20 countries involved in the Antarctic flag initiative and we would love to have your school join us this year! If you would like to register your interest, please fill in this form by October 31st 2020. Following this, we will match school groups with researchers and provide you details of how you can upload your flags (the deadline for this will be the 22nd November 2020 to ensure as many flags as possible are pictured close to Antarctica Day on December 1st).

We are keen to maintain a relationship with the school after so please do get in touch if you would like to organise a visit/ skype with a scientist. Alternatively, get in touch with education@polarnetwork.org if you would like to send a letter to a Polar Pen Pal who will be able to answer any questions your class may have about research and life in the field!

Are you a researcher travelling to Antarctica this year (2020 – 2021)?

Please help us!

If you are heading to Antarctica or any of the surrounding Antarctic islands this winter (November – January) please get in touch, we would love your help! All we ask is that you take some flags (however many you are willing to take) sent to you as a pdf or jpg and photograph them in Antarctica as proof that they have made it there. How you choose to do this is totally up to you, you can be as creative as you like! We will then ask you to please send them back to your contact on the UKPN committee who will sort out sending these back to the schools.

Any other questions?

Please get in touch with us at antarctica-day@polarnetwork.org. Make sure to follow us on our social media accounts (twitter and facebook) where we will be counting down to Antarctica Day 2020!


Happy Antarctica Day!

Happy Antarctica Day 2019!

Today the Antarctic Treaty is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

Every year since 2015 the UKPN have organised an outreach project – the Antarctica Day Flags Initiative – with the aim to spread the word about this success story for world-wide collaboration and to hope its message and values inspires future generations.

We asked participating schools to create a flag for Antarctica (as it is without an official flag) which they believe symbolises this continent. 

The flags are then sent to us here at UKPN, who pair flags from schools with researchers and station staff that are heading down to Antarctica for the Austral Summer (November-January). The flags are then transported all the way to Antarctica with these “flag bearers”, and proof of travel with a certificate and photos of their journey will be sent to the schools upon the flag bearers’ return.

For more information about our Antarctic Flags initiative, please visit: https://britishantarcticterritory.org.uk/blog-uk-polar-network-antarctic-flags/ or contact us at antarctica-day@polarnetwork.org

#AntarcticaDay2019_UKPN #PolarOutreach #AntarcticFlags