Alpine climber Mark Synnott is well known for his passion for adventure. As a big wall climber, he is constantly searching for unclimbed rock faces to explore. This personal mission has taken him around the world to places like Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Patagonia, Pakistan, Nepal, China, and Russia to name a few. Today, Mark also uses his climbing skills to search for rare species in remote, inaccessible environments.

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 Mark Synnott and the topics (climbing, exploration, rare species, geography) 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 Mark Synott’s biography using the links in the Explore More tab on this page.

  • Download and print the provided maps of Canada, Nepal, Pakistan, and the United States of America, or use the MapMaker Interactive, to explore the areas where Mark works.

  • Have students read the elevation,”butte,” or “cliff” encyclopedic entries. Lead a class discussion about the decisions adventurers like Mark must make when planning a climb. After reading, use the activity expedition/">Conduct a Micro-Expedition to help students think through how to plan an expedition.

  • Watch the video titled Ice Climbing to give students a better understanding of climbing.

  • Engage students expeditions or climbing with one of the following activities: Measuring Elevation Past and Present, Expedition Clothing Then and Now, or altitude-whats-in-the-air-activity/">Altitude: What’s in the Air?

  • Today Mark Synnott uses his skills to reach remote locations in search of rare species. Have students learn more about species niches with the encyclopedic entry Species Range and how species are classified as endangered with the infographic Endangered Species Categories and Criteria.

  • 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 Mark Synnott. 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 Mark Synnott shared. Ask: What role did place play in Mark Synnott’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 Mark Synnott 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 Mark Synnott talk about today? In what ways does Mark Synnott 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?


the distance above sea level.


single hill or rock formation that rises sharply from a flat landscape, usually in a desert.


steep wall of rock, earth, or ice.


to ascend or go up.


height above or below sea level.


organism threatened with extinction.


journey with a specific purpose, such as exploration.


landmass that forms as tectonic plates interact with each other.


role and space of a species within an ecosystem.


distant or far away.