Grade 5

Junior Story – Following John Rae

Based on the story of an explorer named John Rae (Orkney’s greatest unsung heroes) the story arc focuses on exploration & mapping of Canada’s northern communities (broadening the Junior Grades community awareness). The package explores Social Studies as it is related to Science & Technology. John Rae grew up in Scotland near a port where the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) ships picked up fresh water, supplies and crew before making long voyages to North America. He watched his two older brothers join the HBC and travel across the ocean, and he knew he wanted to do the same. Shortly after getting a medical degree, he joined the HBC and sailed to Canada, his new home. For over ten years, Rae worked as a doctor for HBC in Moose Factory, Ontario, and treated both European and Indigenous employees of the company. He was eager to learn from Indigenous peoples how to live off of the land, and became well known for his survival and snowshoeing skills.

5.01 – What are the Major Systems of the Human Body?

Our bodies are very complex and adaptable, and our systems work well together to try to maintain homeostasis (where systems work together to maintain a certain equilibrium). This introductory/diagnostic activity will elicit background knowledge concerning the human body and its systems and organs.

5.02 – How Do Human Organ Systems Work Together?

Explorers like John Rae faced very difficult physical conditions, and often pushed their bodies to the limits. In this activity, students will participate in physical activity and evaluate the effects on respiration, heart rate, and body temperature.

5.03 – How did John Rae’s diet compare to modern nutrition guidelines?

Given the amount of energy an explorer would burn each day, how well adapted is the Inuit diet for survival? How does it compare to modern nutrition

5.04 – How do we meet our Energy Needs?

In this activity, the class will research how the digestive system works, and this will be followed up by research about current nutritional guidelines compared to the traditional Inuit diet that John Rae followed.

5.05 – How do we make sure we are healthy for our journey?

In this activity, students will build on the skills they developed when researching the digestive system. They will choose a body system, identify the main organs and their function, and describe ways to optimize the health of this system. Finally, students will build some type of model or do a simulation to show how the system, or major component of the system, works (similar to the demonstration that started the research on the digestive system).

5.06 – Emergency: How do we Survive in the Harsh North?

Alex, Sam, and their class are going on a field trip to recreate some of John Rae’s journey. The North can be a harsh, inhospitable environment. To prepare, students will think about what is required to survive in the North, and, in case of emergency, what supplies will aid them in keeping their body alive or supplies that could aid in their rescue.

5.07 – Is Cold More Dangerous Than Heat?

One of the greatest dangers facing Sam, Alex, and their class in the cold North is the risk of frostbite, hypothermia, and eventually death from the cold. Staying warm is essential. As the class prepares for their trek to the North, they must be aware of the effects of the cold, and ways to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.

5.08 – Alex and Sam Write New Entries into John Rae’s Lost Journal: How Did He Survive?

Alex, Sam, and their class have finally embarked on their journey North to retrace some of the route that John Rae and his explorers took. The class has warm clothing, lots of healthy food, cookstoves, tents, small heaters, and other supplies to ensure that they keep their bodies in peak condition.