To celebrate this milestone of peace in our civilization, an outreach project was created: the Antarctica Day Flags Initiative – with the aim to spread the word about this success story for world-wide collaboration and to hope its message and values inspires future generations.
This initiative was founded alongside OUR SPACES, the Foundation for the Good Governance of International Spaces ,as well as the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS). The concept of the project is simple: we ask participating schools to create a flag for Antarctica (as it is without an official flag) which they believe symbolizes this continent which isn’t ‘owned’ by any particular country. The flags are then transported all the way to Antarctica with “flag bearers” ( researchers and station staff that are heading down to Antarctica for the Austral Summer) , and proof of travel with a certificate and photos of their journey will be sent to the schools upon the flag bearers’ return.
Alongside the flag fun and creativity, the schools incorporate aspects of Antarctica into a relevant lesson so that schoolchildren learn about the importance of Antarctica as a symbol of international cooperation through science, and the 1959 Antarctic Treaty that encapsulated this belief into law. These themes are truly encapsulated in the flags we receive, and the abundant positive feedback from teachers as well as from the flag bearers assures us that our aims are being met. It is also obvious from the profusion of penguins featured on the flags (of all the animals drawn, they take first place) that the unique environment of this continent is especially inspiring to the flag makers.
Last year 250 flags were sent to Antarctica from 53 schools covering Europe, North and South America and Asia. The 2019 cohort of flags are well underway and we are delighted that for the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty we have more schools than ever involved in in the initiative.