nation's polar

HK youngsters in awe of nation’s polar explorers


Hong Kong students taking part in a video-call dialogue with polar scientists in Antarctica, 12,000 kilometers away, on Wednesday were captivated by the nation’s polar scientific achievements and the scientists’ perseverance during their work in the extremely harsh polar environment.

The exchanges with scientists at Zhongshan station — China’s second polar research base, built in 1989 — also inspired them to enhance their understanding of science and technology, they said.

On Wednesday afternoon, over 250 students from more than 20 schools across Hong Kong gathered at the Hong Kong Science Museum to chat with Chinese mainland polar experts. More students attended the event online.

The session was one of the events held to mark the polar icebreaker Xuelong 2’s five-day visit to Hong Kong, which will conclude on Friday.

During the session, students were given a chance to talk with three scientists at the station during a video call lasting about 25 minutes.

Ji Tuo, an astronomer at the Polar Research Institute of China, is responsible for astronomical observations at Zhongshan station. He explained the phenomenon of polar day and polar night in the video call.

The students were captivated when hearing that the Antarctic experiences 54 consecutive days of daylight from November to December, followed by 58 days of uninterrupted darkness from May onward.

A student asked about the utilization of artificial intelligence technology in Antarctic research. Wang Anliang, a senior engineer with expertise in sea ice mechanics and dynamics, responded that the extreme environment in Antarctica demands thorough observation to ensure the reliability of the data collected.

Hu Junze, the head of Zhongshan station and an expert in space physics, also took part in the video call.

Esme Sze, a student from HKUGA College, was moved by photos showcasing the mesmerizing starry skies of Antarctica that were shared by the researchers during the dialogue.

She reflected on the severe light pollution in Hong Kong, which often obscures such celestial spectacles. Inspired by the dialogue, Sze expressed her commitment to protecting the environment.

Helen Li and Ankie Sun, two other students from HKUGA College, marveled at the delectable cuisine available at the station and the fact it has a basketball court.

In a speech delivered before the dialogue, Hong Kong Secretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin encouraged students to integrate their newfound knowledge with various academic disciplines.

Choi also urged the students to seize the valuable opportunity of communicating with the nation’s top scientists, and to take them as role models in enriching knowledge.