A touch of frost

PUBLISHED: 12:55 04 January 2007 | UPDATED: 14:57 12 May 2010

Teacher Ian Richardson will have to endure temperatures of minus 40 while conducting his polar experiments – Pic: Daniel Wilson 2114DW3

Teacher Ian Richardson will have to endure temperatures of minus 40 while conducting his polar experiments - Pic: Daniel Wilson 2114DW3

A SCIENCE teacher is to carry out experiments in Antarctica on the 50th anniversary of the first successful crossing of the continent. Ian Richardson, 49, of Hollies Close, Royston, is one of four teachers who will be flown to the remote Ellsworth Mountai

A SCIENCE teacher is to carry out experiments in Antarctica on the 50th anniversary of the first successful crossing of the continent.

Ian Richardson, 49, of Hollies Close, Royston, is one of four teachers who will be flown to the remote Ellsworth Mountains by the Fuchs Foundation.

Mr Richardson will carry out scientific research and experience the demands of working in the Polar regions.

His individual project will involve looking at microscopic organisms that survive in Antarctica. He is particularly interested at researching tardigrades (water bears).

Mr Richardson, head of biology at Freman College in Buntingford, said: "These creatures can enter a remarkable state of suspended animation in which they can endure the most punishing temperatures with apparent ease.

"There are at least three species unique to the Ellsworth Mountains, and we know little about them."

Mr Richardson answered an advert in the educational press, which was appealing for teachers to carry out scientific research.

Sixty applied, and he was one of nine shortlisted for a three-day selection process in the Peak District.

"It was quite gruelling," he said. "During our stay we had to give a presentation and come up with a suitable project that could be carried out in the Antarctica.

"We even got woken up in the middle of the night and had to pretend to rescue someone."

Mr Richardson, who will have to endure temperatures of minus 40 degrees said he was nervous but very excited about the expedition, set for November-December.

It will involve sleeping in tents and towing sledges.

He said: "I have a lot of confidence in the organisers."

The former research scientist, who has a degree in genetics, hopes the expedition will inspire children to get more involved with science.

He will report back to his students at Freman College via satellite telephone.

The Fuchs Foundation celebrates the achievements of the original expedition headed by Sir Vivian Fuchs in 1956-8.

A spokesman said: "Sir Vivian Fuchs showed a generation of school children a sense of curiosity, self reliance, self determination and challenge. In his memory the Fuchs Foundation will inspire future generations by sending teachers to the Polar regions to do scientific projects in hostile environments.

"No one forgets an inspirational teacher and the Fuchs Foundation believes the key is challenge and experience."

In preparation, Mr Richardson will take part in training sessions in the UK and spend time on glaciers in Norway.

He also has to raise £10,000 to fund his part of the expedition, and as a contribution to the Fuch's Foundation, which has to raise £70,000 per year.

He has already raised £3,000, and hopes to raise the rest through businesses, grant-awarding bodies and fundraising activities, including a balloon race.

On his return, Mr Richardson will produce teaching materials which will be available on the Fuchs Foundation's website.

Anyone wishing to help Mr Richardson should contact him at Freman College on 01763 271818.

Alternatively, email him: ian13@ntlworld.com

For more information visit www.fuchsfoundation.org.uk

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