Street View and Polar Bears

Learn about the subarctic tundra and view polar bears in their natural habitat.

Northern lights in Churchill, Manitoba

Photo: Dave Allcorn

Role of the Unit

Explore Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, the polar bear capital of the world, and surrounding areas on the shores of the Hudson Bay using Google Street View. Get a first–hand look at what it’s like to live on the subarctic tundra—for both humans and polar bears!

Photo: Madison Stevens

Lesson Plan

This lesson prepares middle school students for exploring Churchill, the tundra, and polar bears, but can easily be adapted to lower and higher grades. Students will learn about the tundra ecosystem and compare key aspects with other ecosystems around the world, including their own.

Discussion with Students

Begin by asking your students these leading questions:

What do you know about polar bears?

What is an ecosystem? What do the terms "subarctic" and "tundra" mean?

What are the characteristics of the subarctic tundra? (Share a map to show the location of the subarctic through Google Earth or Google Maps.) Talk about:

  • Terrain and environmental features 

  • Plants and animals that live there

  • What would it be like to live in the subarctic? How would it compare to where you live? (Share a map of your students' location, then discuss the distance between it and Churchill.)

What is the ecosystem like where they live? Discuss:

  • Differences in terrain and environmental features from those in the subarctic

  • Differences in plants and animals in their location from those in the subarctic

  • What buildings and sites you might find in a town located in the subarctic

  • What would some considerations be when constructing buildings, schools, houses, etc. in the subarctic?

Assessment: Finish the unit by having students report back. What did they learn about polar bears, the subarctic tundra, and the polar bear capital of the world?

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