Jump to this Activity »
Glacier (?) National Park
https://serc.carleton.edu/sp/ssac/national_parks/examples/Glacier.html

University of South Florida Judy Mcllrath, Spreadsheets Across the Curriculum/SERC

This activity engages learners in examining data pertaining to the disappearing glaciers in Glacier National Park. After calculating percentage change of the number of glaciers from 1850 (150) to 1968 (50) and 2009 (26), students move on to the main glacier-monitoring content of the module--area vs. time data for the Grinnell Glacier, one of 26 glaciers that remain in the park. Using a second-order polynomial (quadratic function) fitted to the data, they extrapolate to estimate when there will be no Grinnell Glacier remaining (illustrating the relevance of the question mark in the title of the module).

Activity takes at least two 45-minute classes. Computer with Excel software required.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 7 Cross Cutting Concepts, 7 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching Principle 4
Other materials addressing 4e
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7b

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:D) Evaluating accuracy and reliability
Other materials addressing:
D) Evaluating accuracy and reliability.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:E) Organizing information
Other materials addressing:
E) Organizing information.
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:2.4 Environment and Society:A) Human/environment interactions
Other materials addressing:
A) Human/environment interactions.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:B) Places
Other materials addressing:
B) Places.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:E) Environmental Issues
Other materials addressing:
E) Environmental 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

  • While developed for undergraduate students, this activity would be great in an Algebra I math class in addition to a science class. Many students will need guidance through the graphing part of the activity.
  • It would be helpful to link to a geologic time table as well as descriptions of plant biome types for students to look at as they work their way through the first part of the activity.

About the Science

  • Students analyze data pertaining to the disappearing glaciers in Glacier National Park. They use glacier-monitoring data e.g. area vs. time data for the Grinnell Glacier, one of 26 glaciers that remain in the park.
  • Uses data from USGS and NPS.
  • Combines pictoral, map, and numerical data analysis.
  • This activity was written in 2010 and the glacier positions have changed since then. Refer to updated data linked below.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    - inter/extrapolation of data
    - definition of glaciers and how they are formed
    - understanding the repercussions of climate change
    - using the quadratic formula
    - entering formulas in excel and plotting
    - percentage use!
    - r^2-value use
    - Excellent Excel template - the data analyses comes off as a bit intimidating, but the template is a great transition for students to get engaged with Excel and data analyses/plotting

    Suggestions:
    - the "hottest years" since 1980 could be updated (slide 6)

About the Pedagogy

  • Although there is a lot of reading and math in the PowerPoint, the author provides supportive scaffolding throughout that illustrates how to perform the math and graphing functions and what some of the more complicated images represent.
  • Pre-requisite skills include some first-year algebra and working with Excel spreadsheets to graph data.
  • The teachers guide is only accessible by an e-mail request with verification.
  • The slide with the video of glacier retreat included in the PowerPoint is especially compelling.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:


Jump to this Activity »