Zoom In, Zoom Out

Frozen desert

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Activity overview

15 mins
Ages 5 – 7

Science topics:

Materials , Living things and their habitats

Take a closer look at this familiar object. Can your class use their reasoning skills to work out what it is?

Run the activity

You will be zooming in and out of the image above – starting very close and stepping back slowly.

1. Start by asking everyone:

  • What do they think the image is and why?
  • What does the image remind them of and why?

2. Every time you zoom out, ask the class:

  • Can they describe the colours, shapes and textures?
  • What do they think the image is now – have they changed their minds?

Background science

The pictures show snow in Antarctica or the South Pole. In the UK, snow only lies on the ground for a relatively short period. However, parts of the Antarctic are permanently frozen and always covered in snow. Very little life can survive in such a harsh environment, and when humans visit, they need to wear special protective clothing and spend most of their time in special buildings. It is the part of Earth that is most like Mars because it is so cold and inhospitable. This makes it a very useful place for space scientists to test equipment that they plan to send to Mars.


The ExoMars mission is looking for signs of life on Mars. We've got lots of activities to support your own Mars exploration. Read more on our blog! 

Take it further

Watch some people as they try to live in Antarctica in this What's Going On? activity. Have a go at the Problem Solver Get Growing On Mars, in which children work to build a ‘grow-pod’ to help protect a plant so that it could grow in a very harsh environment, such as Mars or the Antarctic. They might also be interested to learn that it is completely dark in the Antarctic for many months, which would make it even harder for a plant to survive, even in a grow-pod. Some children might like to use secondary resources to find out what plants and animals do survive in the Antarctic. They may also enjoy the What's Going On? activity ‘Snowflake’.

Image Credits: Real Snowflake © Menna via Shutterstock SL; Close Up Macro Snow Crystals in Good View © Nneirda via Shutterstock SL; Closeup detailed sharp shot with real size magnification of snowflackes frosty shiny aggregation showing parametric patter behaviour in snow accumulation © Panayot Savov via Shutterstock SLJarmoluk via Pixabay CC0; Pair of penguins on the way to lunch by Jeremykingnz via Shutterstock SL