Teenage sailors from the region will embark on a voyage tracing Arctic whaling expeditions as part of a climate change study.
The 10 students from Burnside Business and Enterprise College in Wallsend will board the ship, James Cook, at Tynemouth, and spend seven days at sea.
Sailing to Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands, they will chart the first leg of a 19th century whaling ship’s journey in a scheme funded by the ARCdoc research project and led by the University of Sunderland.
Its aim is to analyse logbooks written by explorers, whalers and merchants around the Arctic and increase our scientific understanding of climate change.
The logbooks include famous voyages such as Parry’s polar expedition in HMS Hecla and Sir John Franklin’s lost journey to navigate the Northwest Passage.
Matthew Ayre, whose PhD is part of ARCdoc, came up with the public engagement project with the Year 9, 10 and 12 students.
The 26-year-old, who is from Tynemouth and has been to the Arctic aboard a US Research vessel, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for these students. They’ll have great fun, learn all about life at sea as well as reconstruct the first leg of a 19th century whaling voyage.
“A lot of whaling ships left from Hull, Whitby and Newcastle, with experienced crews being picked up in the Orkneys and Shetland Islands, so there is certainly a great connection to this region.
“As part of ARCdoc we have been researching the original whaling logbooks to understand climate change in the Arctic region, analysing sea ice, weather patterns and the like, so perhaps our young team may discover something new for us.”
Burnside assistant headteacher Rosalind Elliott said: “This is a truly innovative learning experience for our students – one they will never forget.
“At Burnside we always encourage our students to be enterprising, curious and believe in themselves. This exciting adventure will not only take learning well beyond the classroom environment, it will be an inspiration for our young people and raise student aspiration.”
Steve Lennon, general manager at Ocean Youth Trust North, which is helping to run the trip, said: “Ocean Youth Trust North is delighted to be part of such an interesting project that brings together history, science, the ocean and our environment – and at the same time provides a life-changing opportunity to young people.
“That is what we are all about, inspiring and developing young people, and so we cannot wait to set sail.”