Mr. Capra's Educational Pursuits in Antarctica

Fuchs Foundation Antarctic Expedition 2010

How Tough is Your Sunscreen?

How tough is your Sunscreen?

UV is dangerous

Do sunscreens really achieve their desirable outcomes? Can they withstand truly harsh conditions? Taking sunscreens away from the comfort zone of in-vitro testing and putting them to the test in-situ in Antarctica, seems like a great way to bring the teaching of Ultraviolet Radiation to a whole new dimension. Fast winds and low humidity levels are just some of the different conditions that will put the sunscreen to the test*.

Putting a real-life context into the teaching of subjects that may seem detached from reality helps students understand the importance of scientific studies to the world we live in. What I am trying to do is bring the real world into the classroom mixed and trying to achieve a simple, scientific and yet accurate in-situ method of testing the ‘efficiency’ of sunscreens.

Not only that, it also gives me the opportunity to educate students about the real dangers of UV to humans. Skin Cancer is now one of the fastest growing cancer in the UK, especially since many of you are taking skiing, scuba-diving or long beach holidays in very sunny locations and are not taking the right precautions!

Also, the level of Ultraviolet light in Antarctica is one of the highest in the world so the team will need to look after themselves!

Notes on the Science behind the Experiment

 There are over 700 sunscreen producs world wide and I can’t test them all in Antarctica. A selection of products targeted specially to the UK consumer market will be chosen for this scientific experiment.

*The following links below will give you more official information about in-vitro sunscreen testing, the Boots Start Rating and the COLIPA method.

  1. Important information from Cancer Researck UK about Sunscreens
  2. The European Commission Recommendation on the Efficacy on Sunscreen Products
  3. What is the UV index? (with a cool, short NASA video about UV)
  4. Solving the mystery of what SPF is and how it is calculated

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