The South Pole Experiment Contest, some refer to as the South Pole Challenge, invited students to design an experiment that could work in their hometown, but would give a different result if repeated at the South Pole.

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls shared the contest information with local schools, encouraging scientific collaboration as one of the principles of the Antarctic Treaty. This treaty governs all activities in the southernmost continent and oversees its conservation. Young contestants were required to compose their own idea, perform the experiment in their hometown, share results, then predict what would change if the experiment occurred at the South Pole.

Ellsworth Middle School is proud to be home to the winning team of seventh graders who won this contest. Students encouraged by seventh grade science teacher, Kathleen O'Shea, gathered every day for about six weeks to plan, test, compile results, and submit their report to the international team of judges by early November.

The experiment created by Ellsworth students was a proposal to map out the area's magnetic field with a variety of magnets. Using ironing fillings, students created a pattern of circles with various magnetic strengths. The students deduced that these magnetic circles will appear differently at the southernmost continent of our world, as the team of Antarctica scientists will soon find out.

In December, students and staff were thrilled to learn that this student-generated experiment finished on top. This global contest selected two experiments to be tested during the IceCube South Pole scientific season, summer months 2018. As the contest guidelines stated, students "will need to think like a scientist, design like an engineer, and present like a communicator," and they did! EMS shares their recognition with a team from Belgium.


Experiment: "Gravitational Strength"

School: Prins Van Oranje

Team: Silke, Inke, Ruben, Matt and Siebe

Supervisor/Teacher: Joeke Ramaekers

United States

Experiment: "Mapping the Magnetic Field"

School: Ellsworth Middle School

Team: Aiden, Tara, Audrey, Sophia, Katie, Tucker and Quinn

Supervisor/Teacher: Kathleen O'Shea