Minnesota winters have become colder than Alaska these past few years. We no longer call school closings, “snow days” they are now known as “windchill days.” This past Wednesday, most Minnesota schools closed due to windchill temperatures of 30-40 below zero. It’s just not safe for kids to be waiting at a bus stop in those kinds of elements. We are starting to feel like we live on Antarctica!
Speaking of Antarctica, I have a friend/coworker (our science teacher) that is a huge marathon runner. Her goal is to run a marathon in all 50 states and around the world. Her next run is this March in Antarctica. She’s been waiting three years for this because there is a waiting list for this newest craze. The Antarctica Marathon was the first sporting event held in Antarctica, on January 28, 1995, although not held on the continent itself. The event is now held every year in late February or early March. The 42.195-kilometre (26.219 mi) race is held on King George Island, just off the Antarctic Peninsula. There is also a half-marathon held at the same time. I can’t wait till she returns and tells us all about it. She said she’ll take photo’s as well. I don’t think I’d even take my mittens off for that! She did tell me that at last year’s race, the temperature was 35 degrees (above zero), so hey, that’s do-able for someone from Minnesota. I hope she gets lucky enough to have those kind of temperatures the day of the race. What a wonderful experience she is going to have. Her bucket list and mine are quite different. Ha!
Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of only 8 inches along the coast and far less inland. The temperature in Antarctica has reached −89 °C (−129 °F). I hope it’s a bit warmer than that when she is there this March. There are no permanent human residents, but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent.
There is, however, some life on this continent….the penguins! There are six species of penguins living here and loving it. They are the Adelies, Chinstraps, Emperors, Gentoos, Macaronis, and Rockhoppers.
Probably the most well-known penguins are the Emperors. Emperor penguins are the largest of all penguins. They average 44 inches high and 66 pounds in weight. They are also the least numerous of all species. Rockhoppers are the smallest of the penguins in Antarctica. They measure only 21.5 inches high and weigh only 5.5 pounds. They are also known as the very aggressive specie among penguins. They look angry! haha
In school today, I got to hang out with some penguins of my own. My cutie little first graders are learning about penguins in science class. They learned how the mother and father carry their eggs on their feet. They got to try and experience this themselves and found out how hard it really is to balance and “egg” with their feet. Such fun to watch that I had to take my camera out.
I thought it was appropriate that we are doing a penguin unit this week since it’s been so cold. It made it seem a little more real and we felt at times, that if we looked out our class-room windows, we just may spot a penguin walking past.
Stay warm my Midwest friends and keep waddling!