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Melting Sea Ice

WGBH Educational Foundation Teachers' Domain

This activity uses a mix of multimedia resources and hands-on activities to support a storyline of investigation into melting sea ice. The lesson begins with a group viewing of a video designed to get students to consider both the local and global effects of climate change. The class then divides into small groups for inquiry activities on related topics followed by a presentation of the findings to the entire class. A final class discussion reveals a more complex understanding of both the local and global impacts of melting sea ice.

Activity takes two to three class periods depending on the number of supporting resources used. Requires multiple computer stations and additional materials.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Sea level rise and resulting impacts is due to melting ice and thermal expansion and increases the risk
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7a
Ecosystems on land and in the ocean have been and will continue to be disturbed by climate change
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7e

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.

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

  • Given the number and variety of media resources linked from the activity, educators will need to select those that are most relevant to objectives of the the lesson and interests/grade level of students.
  • Educators should be careful to not overload the students with information from the videos; it might be difficult for students to keep the information straight. For example, sea ice doesn’t seem to be explicitly discussed in the lesson other than what is shown in the videos. Sea ice is mentioned in the melting ice in a glass experiment, but the connection should be drawn more clearly and the difference made explicit between the ice in the glass and sea ice.
  • Excellent additional resource for most up-to-date information on Arctic Sea Ice: Arctic Report Card http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard.

About the Science

  • Many excellent media resources, most of them Quicktime videos, guide and support the activity. These resources are produced by credible institutions like NASA and NSIDC.
  • Good overview of different types of ice. Use of videos and animations is very useful to show various concepts.
  • Video of native populations is effective at showing impacts of changes.
  • Many of the videos focus on the Arctic but lessons learned also apply to Antarctica.
  • Videos might get out of date quickly, especially in regards to melting ice, where things are happening quickly. Be aware of this and check the most recent science facts.
  • Comment from scientist: (specifically about part 1, #4):Glaciers are land ice, so the sentence isn’t worded correctly. They may mean ice sheets: "like sea ice and ice sheets, glaciers are also melting." Basically, ice sheets need to be delineated from glaciers and the point made that both are land ice.

About the Pedagogy

  • Activity combines passive video clip watching, interactive discussions, hands-on activities, research, and reflection (poster presentation) components, which will help to engage students of different learning styles.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Activity is technology heavy - teachers need access to several computers in the classroom or ability for students to watch videos on their own.

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