Jump to this Simulation/Interactive »

PhET Team, University of Colorado at Boulder

An interactive simulation that allows the user to adjust mountain snowfall and temperature to see the glacier grow and shrink in response.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Simulation/Interactive supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 5 Cross Cutting Concepts, 5 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 6 Cross Cutting Concepts, 2 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Equilibrium and feedback loops in climate system
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2f
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Sample lesson plan can be accessed here: http://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/3133 Does require free registration.
  • Teachers are strongly encouraged to go through the activity sheet and simulation prior to using with students so that they understand what the students will be asked to do.

About the Science

  • Scientific tools are provided in this animation to measure thickness, glacier velocity, and glacial budget.
  • Simulation will help students understand glacier mass balances so that they are well prepared to discuss the effects of climate change on glaciers.

About the Pedagogy

  • Very easy and well-designed simulation with two different levels (introduction and advanced).
  • Can be used to meet the following learning goals: Explain how environmental conditions, temperature, and precipitation impact glacial mass budget; identify where snow accumulates in a glacier, and justify why; explain how ice moves within a glacier; describe and illustrate flow within a glacier; explain or illustrate glacial dynamics.
  • Supportive information, including a lesson plan, is available from the website.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Simulation can be run online, embedded, or downloaded.
  • Due to recent changes in Mac OS, some users may have trouble running the interactive. PhET has good details for help. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/help-center/running-sims
  • Technically robust and well designed.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

Sample lesson plan can be accessed here: http://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/3133

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Simulation/Interactive supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

MS-ESS2.A2:The planet’s systems interact over scales that range from microscopic to global in size, and they operate over fractions of a second to billions of years. These interactions have shaped Earth’s history and will determine its future.

MS-ESS2.C5:Water’s movements—both on the land and underground—cause weathering and erosion, which change the land’s surface features and create underground formations.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 5

Stability and Change, Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity

MS-C2:Cause and effect

MS-C3.3: Proportional relationships (e.g., speed as the ratio of distance traveled to time taken) among different types of quantities provide information about the magnitude of properties and processes.

MS-C7.1: Explanations of stability and change in natural or designed systems can be constructed by examining the changes over time and forces at different scales, including the atomic scale.

MS-C7.3:Stability might be disturbed either by sudden events or gradual changes that accumulate over time.

MS-C7.4:Systems in dynamic equilibrium are stable due to a balance of feedback mechanisms.

Science and Engineering Practices: 5

Developing and Using Models

MS-P2.1:Evaluate limitations of a model for a proposed object or tool.

MS-P2.2:Develop or modify a model— based on evidence – to match what happens if a variable or component of a system is changed.

MS-P2.4:Develop and/or revise a model to show the relationships among variables, including those that are not observable but predict observable phenomena.

MS-P2.5:Develop and/or use a model to predict and/or describe phenomena.

MS-P2.7:Develop and/or use a model to generate data to test ideas about phenomena in natural or designed systems, including those representing inputs and outputs, and those at unobservable scales.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

HS-ESS2.A3:The geological record shows that changes to global and regional climate can be caused by interactions among changes in the sun’s energy output or Earth’s orbit, tectonic events, ocean circulation, volcanic activity, glaciers, vegetation, and human activities. These changes can occur on a variety of time scales from sudden (e.g., volcanic ash clouds) to intermediate (ice ages) to very long-term tectonic cycles.

HS-ESS2.C1:The abundance of liquid water on Earth’s surface and its unique combination of physical and chemical properties are central to the planet’s dynamics. These properties include water’s exceptional capacity to absorb, store, and release large amounts of energy, transmit sunlight, expand upon freezing, dissolve and transport materials, and lower the viscosities and melting points of rocks.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 6

Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity, Stability and Change

HS-C2:Cause and effect

HS-C3.1:The significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs.

HS-C3.2: Some systems can only be studied indirectly as they are too small, too large, too fast, or too slow to observe directly.

HS-C7.1:Much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable.

HS-C7.2:Change and rates of change can be quantified and modeled over very short or very long periods of time. Some system changes are irreversible.

HS-C7.3:Feedback (negative or positive) can stabilize or destabilize a system.

Science and Engineering Practices: 2

Developing and Using Models

HS-P2.3:Develop, revise, and/or use a model based on evidence to illustrate and/or predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system

HS-P2.6:Develop and/or use a model (including mathematical and computational) to generate data to support explanations, predict phenomena, analyze systems, and/or solve problems.

Jump to this Simulation/Interactive »