The second oldest of ten children, Ernest Shackleton was born in Ireland. His family later moved to London, where Ernest was raised. His father was a doctor and hoped Ernest would become a doctor, too. But Ernest had other ideas. When he was only 16, he joined the merchant navy and became a sailor. By the time he was 18, he had become first mate. At age 24, he was a certified master mariner.
Ernest was a polar explorer who led British expeditions to the Antarctic. He was particularly interested in exploring the South Pole. He wanted to be the first person to reach the South Pole. He went on his first expedition when he was 25. He became very ill on the way home from this trip. On his second trip, he made it to within 97 miles of the South Pole before he had to turn back.
Fun Facts About Ernest Shackleton for Kids
- Ernest was disappointed when a Norwegian explorer made it to the South Pole first in 1911. He made a new goal of passing through the South Pole via Antarctica.
- He set out on the ship, Endurance, in August, 1914. In January, the ship became ice-locked. Shackleton and his men abandoned the ship, which later sunk, and lived on the ice for several months. When the ice began thawing in the spring, Shackleton and his men boarded small boats and went to Elephant Island.
- No one was at the island, so Shackleton and five men took a life boat to South Georgia. There, they organized a rescue party to get the other men.
- Shackleton and his men were on the ice for almost two years, but no one died.
Ernest Shackleton Vocabulary
- Mariner: someone who can navigate or drive a ship and find his way
- Abandon: leave
- Ice-locked: surrounded by ice; unable to move because of the ice
All About Ernest Shackleton Video for Kids
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Ernest Shackleton Q&A
Question: How many were Ernest Shackleton’s expeditions?
Answer: He made three. He was beginning a fourth voyage when he died. Ernest Shackleton’s cause of death was a heart attack.
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