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Emma Penguin’s Research Trip Down South

Our Emma Penguin toys are a family favourite in our gift shop, and as such, have been taken on adventures with explorers (young and old) all over the world. In fact, there are two in Antarctica as we write this, and one with our National Oceanography Centre friends aboard the 2012 RRS Discovery as she heads to Canada!

Another had a summer holiday down to visit Polar and ship museums in England – we’re very jealous! She was researching for some exciting new gallery plans for her home, here at Discovery Point. On her travels, she naturally became friends with lots of other penguins living in museums and learnt a lot about Antarctica and the British National Antarctic survey 1901-04; as well as modern research in Antarctica.

In this blog, we’re sharing her voyages – enjoy!

Pre-flight nerves…

Day 1: Travel down to Cambridge

The first day of the trip was spent travelling. Unfortunately, penguins cannot fly as their wings are better suited to swimming. So, Emma needed to hitch a lift on a plane down to London (she did well for her first flight!) and from there, it was a short hop across to Cambridge.

British Antarctic Survey.

Day 2: British Antarctic Survey and Scott Polar Research Institute

Emma was up bright and early the next day to visit the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), a modern research institute that focuses on Antarctica.

Here Emma learnt about underwater gliders which map the ocean floor. She also had a go on a skidoo and met Basil Penguin who works at BAS. Emma also felt an ice core ice cube from Antarctica melt and fizz on her tongue as the air bubbles escaped. The ice core had been kept safe on a journey of thousands of miles back to Cambridge where it was now stored in a freezer for visitors to see.

Emma also learnt about the new Discovery Base which is being built in Antarctica as a replacement for an older base. Its blue to blend in with the ice around it and will be home to scientists and the support teams whilst they are researching the area. It is also super-efficient and is designed to use as little energy and create as little waste as possible.

She met lots of helpful people who told her about the range of research being carried out such as space science, studying birds and tracking the shrinking glaciers.

The Scott Polar Research Institute.

Next, it was a quick hop on a bus back into the centre of Cambridge to see our friends at the Scott Polar Research Institute. Emma was very excited to go here, as it was set up as a memorial to Robert Falcon Scott, Lawrence Oates, Henry Robertson Bowers, Edward Wilson and Edgar Evans who sadly did not back it back from their journey to the South Pole in 1912.

Emma really enjoyed meeting the other penguins who also live in a museum. Learnt about the history of exploring Antarctica, and also the communities of the Arctic and the explorers who also travelled to the arctic.

She met the curators who look after the collection, saw sledging flags and paper party hats that were made and worn on the Discovery. She also said hello to the wonderful volunteers who welcome visitors to the museum, as well as the education manager who showed her some very exciting toys and games used to teach children about Antarctica.

After all of that excitement it was time to get on a train to head to London.

Oates, Captain Scott, Evans, Bowers and Wilson at the South Pole in 1912.

Day 3: Royal Geographical Society

This was an opportunity for Emma to see the notes from the setting up of the Discovery, for the British National Antarctic Survey 1901-04. The Royal Geographic Society came up with the idea for the expedition, arranged the design of the Discovery, and employed the crew.

Emma was too busy looking at all the amazing items in the archive (including sledging charts and photographs from the expedition), and didn’t have a chance to get any photographs.

Day 4: National Maritime Museum – Royal Museums Greenwich

Emma wandered over to the National Maritime Museum to speak to the curators of the Polar World’s galleries and meet the penguins there. So many penguins to meet!

She had a great time exploring the gallery, learning about early Antarctic Exploration and, seeing how it links in with modern work in Antarctica. After all of that running around it was time to get on a train and zoom across to Bristol for the final adventure of the trip.

Day 5: SS Great Britain

Emma’s final day was something a bit different; she took a trip to see the SS Great Britain and learn more about other big ship museums.

This ship had not been to Antarctica, but it had travelled as a passenger ship across the world and ended up in the Falkland Islands before arriving in Bristol.

She had a lot of fun sniffing all the food, meeting the crew and passengers and learning about the history of this marvel of engineering. Hello Mr. Brunel!

Brunel's SS Great Britain.

Emma then returned back to Discovery Point in Dundee with a mind full of inspiration – and a healthy appetite for some krill.

Thank you to everyone who welcomed our intrepid travelling penguin and being such wonderful hosts. The things Emma learned will be really valuable, as we all look to the future of Discovery Point and RRS Discovery. Hope to welcome you all soon!

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