Adventure filmmaker Bryan Smith once said, “It wasn’t the adrenaline that was working for me. What is was, was this idea of focusing so intently on something to do it well.” This approach to life is evident in his accomplishments. He is an award-winning filmmaker whose honors include a National Geographic Expedition grant. Based in British Columbia, Bryan is well known for extreme kayak filming and has produced several films including 49 Megawatts featuring that particular skill set.

Use the resources in this collection to prepare your students for their upcoming National Geographic Live! student matinee experience. Use the “Before the show” ideas to introduce students to Bryan Smith and the topics (filmmaking, environment, adventure) that he will discuss during the show. Use the “After the show” ideas to extend the learning after the event has ended.

Before the Show:

  • Have students review Bryan Smith’s biography using the links in the Explore More tab on this page.

  • Download and print the provided maps of Russia, or use the MapMaker Interactive, to explore the areas where Bryan works.

  • Have students read the “elevation” and “cliff”  encyclopedic entries. Then lead a class discussion about different kinds of challenges filming at high elevation or in precarious locations like cliffs a filmmaker might face. After reading, ask: How might filming at a high elevation be more difficult than working near sea level? How might a filmmaker address those challenges? How might a filmmaker film something on a cliff? What are some solutions to working on tricky and possibly dangerous locations?

  • Watch the Failure and Persistence video. Ask students to write a short paper about a time they failed at something and what they learned from the experience. Then have the student come up with a plan for how they will implement what they’ve learned when they repeat or are in a similar situation.

  • Engage students with extreme environments with either the Name that Destination or Extreme Environments activities provided.

  • Dig deeper into exploration with the activity Why We Explore. In this activity, students discuss the meaning of exploration and places they would like to explore. They compare past and present-day explorers’ reasons for exploration to their own.

  • Provide each student with a KWL Chart. Introduce the program they will attend and, who the speaker is, and offer a brief description of the speaker’s topic(s). Have students fill out the What I Know and What I Want to Know columns of the KWL Chart. Have them fill out the What I Learned column after the show.

  • Use the graphic organizer collection to select a graphic organizer to help your students organize their questions and new knowledge before, during, and after the program. For example:

    • Download and print the T Chart. Have students label the left column with Questions I Have and the right column with Answers, and then conduct research about the speaker and their topic ahead of the program. Have students record answers to their questions during or after the program. Have students conduct research to complete any unanswered questions for homework. Have each student share a question and answer with the class.

    • Download and print the provided Five Ws Chart. Have each student bring their copy to the matinee program and take notes. Have students share and discuss their notes after the show.

After the Show:

  • Use the Explorer Comparisons worksheet and have a class discussion to help students make connections between themselves and Bryan Smith. Distribute the worksheet to students before the presentation and review the directions with them. Review any terms with which that they are unfamiliar with. After the presentation, have students share the notes that they took during the show. Have a class discussion about attitudes and skills and how students demonstrate them in their everyday lives. Have students record their personal examples on the worksheet.

  • Review the continents, countries, or areas that the speaker presented. Ask: What continents, countries, or areas does the speaker work in? Have younger students imagine that these places were characters in the stories that Bryan Smith shared. Ask: What role did place play in Bryan Smith’s story? Why was location important to the story? How did the characteristics of the place influence the story? Note: You may need to introduce the concept of place for your students before they can answer and discuss these questions.

  • Discuss and define any unfamiliar terminology that the speaker used. Ask: What vocabulary words did Bryan Smith use that were new to you? Invite volunteers to write the words on the board, and have the class define them as a group using the information they learned from the speaker or through research. If desired, have students record unfamiliar terminology during the show on one-half of a T Chart. Then, have them write the definitions on the other side following this class discussion.

  • Have a class discussion about the attitudes National Geographic explorers embody. Ask: What attitudes did Bryan Smith talk about today? In what ways does Bryan Smith demonstrate curiosity, responsibility, empowerment, and persistence in his work? Why do you think these attitudes are important for explorers? Students can use their Five Ws Chart for reference and a graphic organizer to organize their ideas.

  • Have a whole-class brainstorm on how students can make changes or support the speakers’ work. Ask: What, if any, call to action did the speakers make? How can you implement any changes in your day-to-day life? What can we work on together as a group?


steep wall of rock, earth, or ice.

documentary filmmaker

person who makes non-fiction movies or television programs.


height above or below sea level.


in an unstable or dangerous manner.


base level for measuring elevations. Sea level is determined by measurements taken over a 19-year cycle.

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