A century ago Mawson and his fellow explorers travelled the world, exciting the public with tales of endeavour and discovery in Antarctica. Newspaper reports, books, lecture tours, interviews, records, radio and films were all used to capture people’s imagination. The efforts of these early Antarctic explorers to publicise their findings were remarkably effective. The blend of research and exploration was a high point in science communication. The reports of derring-do, extreme conditions, curious wildlife and heroism in the south combined to make scientific exploration headline news one hundred years ago. It was an amazing time, experienced by remarkable people.
The accounts from yesteryear still resonate today; capturing the imagination few – if any – other periods in the history of exploration are capable. And yet with the media available today we have an opportunity to strike up a conversation with a far greater number of people. Thanks to Google, we are trying just that. +Intrepid Science and the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014 are working with Google to bring exploration a little closer to home. I have the honour of being one of the judges on the Doodle 4 Google competition for Australia and New Zealand. School children from Years 1 to 10 have been given the task of redrawing the Google logo inspired by the words: ‘If I was an explorer I would…’. We have been inundated with entries. The quality of the art is stunning and the content dizzying, ranging from the inner workings of the mind all the way through to the makeup of the Universe.
I am writing this travelling back from New Zealand where we had the unenviable task of drawing up a shortlist from more than 6000 entries; in Australia, some 20,000 entries were submitted. It’s an incredibly exciting time. The shortlist from Australia is now online for the public vote (the New Zealand entries will be posted next Monday; I’ll publish the URL as soon as it’s up). You have one week to cast your vote. Anyone is welcome to cast an opinion from anywhere in the world. And remember, along with the fabulous technological prize, the winning teachers will be joining us on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 2013-2014.
Enjoy the shortlist; it’s fantastic. I hope you’re as inspired as I am.