Jump to this Short Demonstration/Experiment »
Thermal Expansion and Sea Level Rise
http://www.windows2universe.org/teacher_resources/teach_thermalexpand.html

Lisa Gardiner, Windows to the Universe

In this short but effective demonstration/experiment, students investigate how thermal expansion of water might affect sea level.

Experiment will take one class period.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Short Demonstration/Experiment supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 7 Cross Cutting Concepts, 3 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 6 Cross Cutting Concepts, 3 Science and Engineering Practices

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

Energy Literacy

Water plays a major role in the storage and transfer of energy in the Earth system.
Other materials addressing:
2.4 Water stores and transfers energy.

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

  • Demonstration/experiment needs to be embedded in a lesson that explains the actual science around sea level rise. The given text can lead to misconceptions.
  • Include a discussion on ice sheets and glaciers to reinforce climate literacy principles.
  • Please reinforce the use of safety glasses.
  • Pay close attention, the expansion happens quickly. Have students watch the water carefully.

About the Science

  • A simple demonstration of thermal expansion.
  • The description talks about sea level rise at the end of the last ice age as well as the most recent sea level rise. The numbers given are not referenced and not discussed sufficiently. A lot more background information is required for students to put them into context.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Simple and clear experiment to demonstrate thermal expansion of water. Asks for predictions prior to observing what happens. Uses 14,000 years ago as the start of the present inter-glacial warm period. 10,000 years ago is the more commonly used and agreed upon.

About the Pedagogy

  • Focuses on a single concept and demonstrates it quite well.
  • Not too much supporting materials for teachers.
  • Educators might need to improve the assessment provided.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The learning outcomes ask students to compare and contrast thermal expansion with other ways sea level can rise and asks students to make predictions for coastlines. The resource only addresses the first learning goal.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Simple and to the point.

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

Another version of the activity is here: https://scied.ucar.edu/activity/thermal-expanson-seawater

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Short Demonstration/Experiment supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

MS-ESS2.C4:Variations in density due to variations in temperature and salinity drive a global pattern of interconnected ocean currents.

MS-PS1.A3:Gases and liquids are made of molecules or inert atoms that are moving about relative to each other.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 7

Systems and System Models, Energy and Matter, Stability and Change, Patterns, Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity

MS-C1.1:Macroscopic patterns are related to the nature of microscopic and atomic-level structure.

MS-C1.2: Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural and human designed systems

MS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

MS-C3.1:Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small.

MS-C4.3:Models are limited in that they only represent certain aspects of the system under study.

MS-C5.4:The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system.

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.

Science and Engineering Practices: 3

Developing and Using Models, Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

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

MS-P3.4:Collect data to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence to answer scientific questions or test design solutions under a range of conditions

MS-P6.3:Construct a scientific explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from sources (including the students’ own experiments) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

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.

HS-PS3.B2:Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems

Cross Cutting Concepts: 6

Patterns, Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity, Systems and System Models, Energy and Matter, Stability and Change

HS-C1.1:Different patterns may be observed at each of the scales at which a system is studied and can provide evidence for causality in explanations of phenomena

HS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system.

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-C4.4:Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models.

HS-C5.2:Changes of energy and matter in a system can be described in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system.

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.

Science and Engineering Practices: 3

Developing and Using Models, Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

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.

HS-P3.5:Make directional hypotheses that specify what happens to a dependent variable when an independent variable is manipulated.

HS-P6.2:Construct and revise an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students’ own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.


Jump to this Short Demonstration/Experiment »