Explorers and exploration

Where can I find information about famous explorers and where they explored?

Junior Secondary

(Years 7-10)

Image: [Lac Blanc, Chamonix, France] by Nicolas Cool on Unsplash.

Entry last updated: 8/04/22

Introduction

Over time explorers have travelled widely to visit undiscovered parts of the world. There have been many periods of exploration from the Ancient Greeks and Romans, to the Chinese and Vikings, and the European Age of Exploration. More recently, exploration has extended to include space and the deep sea (oceanography).

Famous explorers

Here is a list of some well-known explorers, but there are many more:

Abel Tasman (1603 to 1659)

Buzz Aldrin (1930 - )

Christopher Columbus (1451 - 1506)

David Livingstone (1813 - 1873)

Sir Edmund Hillary (1919 - 2008)

Ernest Shackleton (1874 - 1922)

Ferdinand Magellan (c1480 - 1521)

Francis Drake (c1540 - c1596)

James Cook (1728 - 1779)

John Cabot (c1450 - c1499)

Marco Polo (1254 - 1324)

Roald Amundsen (1872 - 1928)

Walter Raleigh (1554 - 1618)

History of exploration

These sites give a good overview of the history of exploration around the world.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

New Zealand has been visited by explorers from many countries.

  • Try searching for 'New Zealand discovery'
  • This will bring up the article European discovery of New Zealand.
  • Find information about Abel Tasman and James Cook as well as the French explorers.
  • Remember to check out the external links and sources for extra information.

Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page you can see this site is from the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Britannica School Middle

This is one of the EPIC resources, a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics.

  • Search using the keyword 'exploration'.
  • There are lots of articles about different types of exploration.
  • The article exploration gives a good general overview.
  • We also like polar exploration or space exploration.
  • Select the tab Related to find other articles related to this topic.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg [exploration]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Middle School (Gale In Context)

Another EPIC resource, this site has information about the exploration of particular countries.

  • Select the Geography topic, and then a country or region eg Canada.
  • Under Overview select Read more.
  • Look for the Brief History section that includes information about exploration and discovery.

World History (Gale In Context)

Another EPIC resource, this site has lots of information about events and people in world history.

  • Select Browse Topics.
  • Choose a topic.
  • Age of Exploration looks at European exploration during the 15th and 16th centuries.
  • Polar Exploration looks at exploration of the North and South Poles.
  • Topic pages group resources by type eg reference or biographies.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a free to use site filled with information and educational videos on a range of topics in science, math, history, computers and more.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Lives of explorers

Try these sites to find out about the lives of explorers and how they became interested in exploration.

Biography.com

This website has biographies (life stories) of lots of people from history as well as people who are alive now.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About or Contact us links on the website, if you can find them. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Biography (Gale In Context)

This is one of the EPIC resources and has information about the lives of many different people. In each entry there is an in-depth summary, with links to more information.

  • Go to Browse People.
  • Select the topic World Explorers from the drop down menu.
  • Choose the person you want to find out about eg Roald Amundsen.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Australian Dictionary of Biography

This site has information about many people who have explored parts of Australia.

  • Enter the keyword 'explorers' and choose from the results eg Tasman, Abel Janszoon (1603-1659).
  • You can also choose to search using an explorer's name.
  • Each entry has facts about that person's life, as well as further reading.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .edu, meaning they are from government or educational organisations.

Exploration now

Although exploration continues in the more remote parts of the earth, attention has turned to exploring space and underwater.

Gale eBooks

This is one of the EPIC resources. It has access to a collection of reference e-books containing biography, literature, science, history, social sciences information and more.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

NASA For Students

This is a part of the official site for NASA. It has information on various space topics eg missions and space technology. It includes image and video galleries.

  • Select Topics to find information about NASA's History.
  • Use the tab Missions to find out about current exploration eg the Artemis Program is looking at the next man and woman on the moon.

Ocean Portal

This site belongs to the Smithsonian Institute and is a reliable source of information. It has information about deep sea exploration.

Books

There have been many books written about exploration, and biographies of explorers.

Here are some suggested titles, but remember to check with your local public or school library for others:

SCIS no: 1839734

Topics covered

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