To win an expedition to the North Pole | Polarjournal
In July 2022, the ‘student expedition’ arrived at the North Pole with the winners of the competition. (Photo: Irina Martynova)

Until the sanctions against Russian facilities, the nuclear icebreaker “50 Years of Victory” sailed to the North Pole several times a year with international tourists. A lucrative business for the Rosatomflot shipping company. The expeditions were offered by the operators Poseidon and Quark Expeditions at prices starting at 30,000 euros. Even after the absence of Western tourists, the “50 Years of Victory” continues to sail to the North Pole. But without the former operators, but simply with students who won the trip in a competition.

The participants with their expedition flags in front of the icebreaker at the North Pole. (Photo: Valery Vasilevsky)

The icebreaker “50 Years of Victory” departed Murmansk for the North Pole in July 2022 as part of the “Icebreaker of Discoveries” expedition. On board were 70 school children from different regions of Russia. They learned about the beauty of the Arctic and created unique projects using Rosatom’s technologies.

The icebreaker sailed on the Murmansk – North Pole – Franz Josef Land – Murmansk route and returned to Murmansk on July 17.

The “Icebreaker of Discoveries” expedition was part of the ‘Homo Science’ project, which aimed to make science and technology more public. The participants of the expedition were the winners of the children’s project “The Icebreaker of Knowledge”.

Irina Martynova together with polar explorer Viktor Boyarsky. (Photo: Valery Vasilevsky)

Irina Martynova, a participant of the expedition told about her impressions on the icebreaker. “What was difficult was getting up at 7:30. We were awakened by the voice of Viktor Boyarsky, a polar explorer. He spoke over the loudspeaker in the booth: “Dear participants, wake up! Today we see with you …” And every morning he told an interesting story, read poetry. The children even recorded everything on audio. His voice, stories, energy – all that supported and inspired us. Once he told how he crossed Antarctica on a dog sled.”

“Viktor Boyarsky is an amazing man and has visited almost every point on our planet. Once everyone heard his story and some cried afterwards. This man was on the verge of death more than once. And his stories helped us all when we were tired. He also told how the temperatures were outside, the position of the icebreaker and what the captain had experienced during the night.”

Meeting the French icebreaker “Le Commandant Charcot”, we waved our expedition flags and sang the Russian national anthem. (Photo: Irina Martynova)

Shipping at the North Pole

However, the route to the North Pole was not only traveled by the Russian icebreaker this year. Irina Martynova remembers: “When we were returning from the North Pole, we met a ship. It was about 10:00 p.m. and suddenly someone shouted, “There’s a ship!”. It was a very emotional meeting because we were alone in the ice for a long time and there was someone else here besides bears and seals. It turned out that the ship was the French vessel “Le Commandant Charcot” with tourists, which was on its first voyage to the North Pole.

Our captain contacted the French captain and the ships deliberately stopped so that their starboard sides were facing each other. The ship’s horns sounded and we greeted them with a big hello. And they also called back something to us. We took out the flags of the expedition, started waving them and then the children sang the Russian anthem. It was very unexpected and touching.”

The call for entries for the 2023 competition is already underway. Deadline for registration is November 27, 2022.

Student competition also in the program in 2023

The idea is catching on in schools and the program will continue next year. Interested students can register on the Icebreaker of Knowledge website in two age groups of 12-14 or 15-16 and then choose from Science & Technology, Science & Environment, and Science & Arts.

In order to qualify, intellectual tasks are set regularly, and it is important to answer the maximum number of questions in the minimum time. Every seven days the level of difficulty is increased. There are four levels in total. A personal score within the age group is then formed based on the answers.

A video sequence on the chosen topic completes the task. For example, a discussion of how one sees the role of a scientist in the modern world; Or what one would do if one were the chief ecologist of the planet? What role does science play in contemporary art?

The selection of applicants will run until November 27, 2022.

The plan is that the 68 finalists, divided into 36 winners in “Science and Technology,” 20 in “Science and Environment,” and 12 for “Science and the Arts,” will then travel to the North Pole in July 2023.

Heiner Kubny, Polarjournal

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