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Glaciers interactive simulation

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.

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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.
Entered the Collection: January 2012 Last Reviewed: December 2016

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