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Laying it Bear - We're Skating On Thin Ice

Updated: Apr 15, 2023

The purpose of this design and technology research assignment is to find an issue in the world, and consider how technology could make a difference. Therefore, a particular area within conservation that I am going to explore is the impact of climate change on polar bears, and then begin to consider how technology could be used to solve the issues they're facing. Could existing, conservational technology implemented in some way?

Whilst I was working at Banham Zoo, we talked to the public about polar bears a lot. We didn't have any at the zoo, but they're an incredible creature to teach people about, and an engaging animal for kids to learn about, too. In the education building, there was a wooden trim along one of the walls, which was about 11 feet off of the ground. This was great, because I used to point at it to show the kids how tall a male, adult polar bear can grow. You'd either get a look of "that's so scary" or "man, that's awesome". Personally, I think they're pretty awesome.

But, obviously, we weren't talking to people about polar bears just because they're awesome. We were teaching people about polar bears because they are facing huge threats to their existence. They're also an interesting animal to discuss because, whilst most people are aware that polar bears are suffering due to climate change, they don't often know exactly what is going on. When I used to ask the kids to tell me what was happening with polar bears, I'd often get the same response:

"The ice is melting and so they have no where to live".

That's completely true, but it's only a tiny part of what is happening to polar bears in 2023.

Now, I'll be completely honest, I don't know a huge amount about what's happening with polar bears either. I knew enough to talk to the public about them, and answer basic questions. But, with all of the other animals that I had to learn about and everything else that I was doing at the zoo, I didn't get an opportunity to dive deep into these amazing creatures, and what they're currently up against. This is why I want to use this research assignment as an opportunity to learn more about them, and consider ways that technology may be able to help them. At the same time, I also want to explore ways that technology is being used in the conservation of a wide variety of animals. This could help me come up with ideas that could help polar bears.

Over the next couple of posts, I will research into polar bears and the threats they're facing, before considering whether existing conservational technology (which will be researched throughout this project) could be implemented to help them, or whether new technology could be invented to assist polar bears.


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