In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, new countries were being discovered and explored. James Cook's voyages took him to Australia and the Antarctic. John Franklin headed north to the Arctic Circle in search of the North West Passage.

How long will it take?

This can take as long as you like.  It might be a good to start by showing the students some of the journals written by explorers.  Although they are often difficult to read (there is no paper wasted!) there is a transcript or commentary to help explain what they contain.  They give a great feel for the amount of content that can go into a journal.   Have a look at journal of the West Africa Expedition.

What to do?

If possible the students should really try to imagine what it is like on their expedition.  They should choose a real place and look up photos, maps and weather.  They could also find out the types of plants and animals that live in the area and reproduce the drawings. 


Curriculum Links 


Writing - Composition


Geographical skills and fieldwork


A study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils' chronological knowledge beyond 1066

 Scottish Curriculum


Literacy and English

LIT 2-24a

Writing - Tools for writing


LIT 2-26a

Writing - Organising and using information 


LIT 2-28a

Writing - Creating texts

Conveying information, describing events, explaining processes or combining ideas in different ways.


LIT 2-29a

Writing - Creating texts

Persuade, argue, explore issues or express an opinion using relevant supporting detail and/or evidence.


TCH 2-03b

ICT to enhance learning

Social Studies


SOC 2-01a

People, past events and societies

Using primary and secondary sources selectively to research events in the past


SOC 2-04a

People, past events and societies

Comparing and contrasting a society in the past with my own and contributing to a discussion of the similarities and differences


SOC 2-06a

People, past events and societies

Discussing why people and events from a particular time in the past were important, placing them within a historical sequence


SOC 2-14a

People, place and environment

Around the world

jungleJames Cook and John Franklin were not the only explorers discovering new parts of the world at that time.

In the 1850s David Livingstone explored the interior of Africa.  He was the first European to see the Victoria Falls, and although his expeditions did not always achieve their original goal, the scientists with him brought home plants and information on the countries which they travelled through.

Have a look at the Turning the Pages section on the Royal Society Website to find out about other explorers. If you are finding it a little hard to read (these explorers liked to put a lot on one page!) click on the 'Transcript' or 'Commentary' button to find out what the page is all about.

There are still explorers today, but where is left to explore?  The North and South Pole are still very inaccessible, as are the high mountains, the bottom of the ocean floor, and the thickest jungles.  Although satellites have taken images of the entire planet from space, there are still vast areas of the world to be explored from the ground.  Not only are there new plants and animals to find, but there are also people living in these remote areas who can teach us about our past and help us protect the planet in the future.


diaryWhere would you explore?

Imagine you are an explorer - you can be a modern day explorer or one from centuries ago.  Which part of the world will you explore? 

Write a diary of your expedition. 

Here are some questions you might like to answer in your journal...








What is your goal?


Do you want to discover a new place, find a short cut, or collect scientifically important things?


How do you think you will achieve your goal?

If you are collecting samples, have you brought enough storage containers?  How will you go about making maps of the area?  Will you need to get permission to collect samples and bring them out of the country (this wasn't something explorers worried about centuries ago!)?


What are you bringing?

You may want to decide whether you are a modern day explorer or an explorer from hundreds of years ago.  A modern day explorer can bring a lot more equipment, but finding new and unexplored territory is harder.   A Victorian explorer might be expected to make detailed drawings of the area, plants and animals.


Have you collected anything?

You'll need to keep careful records of what you have found, where you found it and other plants and animals in the area. 


What you have been doing?

Keep a detailed record of what you have done every day: future generations might want to know just how hard the expedition was.  Don't forget to include details of the weather and the environment you are travelling through.