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In this activity, students investigate how scientists monitor changes in Earth's glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets. The activity is linked to 2009 PBS Nova program entitled Extreme Ice.

Activity takes two to three 45-minute lesson periods plus time for presentations. Computers with internet access are useful.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Performance Expectation, 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 6 Cross Cutting Concepts, 6 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 1 Performance Expectation, 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 6 Cross Cutting Concepts, 6 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b
Climate change has consequences
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Climate change has consequences

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:A) Identifying and investigating issues
Other materials addressing:
A) Identifying and investigating issues.

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

  • Instructors may want to move the student reading in Step 1 "All About Glaciers" and make it a reference for students for their research on the Internet, Step 4.
  • Create worksheets or scaffolded guides for students to help them conduct more targeted research.
  • Consider having students work in groups during the Internet research component.
  • Provide age-appropriate Internet sites for research (Step 4). Distribute the rubric for the presentations to students ahead of time.
  • This activity is an opportunity to discuss the process of science and how to vet for quality of research and information.
  • Other supplemental activities to aid student understanding of glacial processes include the PhET Glaciers Interactive http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/glaciers and the ANDRILL collection of hands-on experiences http://www.andrill.org/flexhibit/flexhibit/materials/activities/index.html.

About the Science

  • Students investigate how scientists monitor changes in Earth's glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets.
  • This activity relates to the PBS NOVA program on the Extreme Ice Survey, which makes use of time-lapse photography to measure rapid changes in glaciers and ice sheets: http://www.extremeicesurvey.org
  • Refer to NSIDC "All About Glaciers" website for background materials for the teacher and/or interested students: http://nsidc.org/cryosphere/glaciers/

About the Pedagogy

  • The teaching sequence, from eliciting student background knowledge to the final presentation, effectively builds student knowledge about glaciers and how scientists study their changes.
  • Additional structure may help guide students in doing research (Step 4).
  • Building student knowledge about glaciers using related CLEAN selected activities prior to doing this activity would help set the stage, particularly their glacier research.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

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

Extreme Ice Survey http://extremeicesurvey.org/.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:


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