Explore! Ice Worlds - Ice on Earth

Ice on Earth

Part Three of Explore! Ice WorldsIce on Earth — offers children, ages 8 to 13, five activities that investigate where ice is on Earth, how important ice is to our planet's climate, what is happening to ice at the poles, what changes in polar ice could mean for our future, and, finally, what the children and their families can do to help mitigate those changes.

Ice on Earth activities investigate where ice is found on Earth, how important ice is to our planet's climate, what changes in polar ice could mean for our future, and, finally, what children and their families can do to help mitigate those changes.

Know Your Poles!
In this 60-minute companion activity to Polar Bears or Penguins?, children ages 8 to 13 divide into Arctic and Antarctic teams to investigate Earth's polar regions. Each team reads, discusses, and records information about their region to share and to use in Polar Bears or Penguins?

Polar Bears or Penguins?
In this 60-minute companion activity to Know Your Poles, Arctic and Antarctic teams of children ages 8 to13 become familiar with the geography of, and amount of ice in, Earth's polar regions. Children create a "Polar Geographic Features Map" with an ice overlay. In teams, they play a fast-action matching game that challenges them to use their knowledge of North and South pole facts.

On the Rise
In this 60-minute interactive demonstration, children ages 8 to 13 use ice blocks and heat lamps to model what will happen to coastlines around the world as glaciers melt. They explore why glaciers are melting as a consequence of global warming and how human activity has added to the amount of warming. Catching a Heat Wave or Balancing Act may be incorporated into this activity.

Balancing Act
Children ages 8 to 13 construct a mobile that models the balance of warming and cooling influences, represented by craft materials, on the Earth's global temperatures. The children find that the Sun's energy alone leaves the mobile unbalanced and the Earth is too cold. They need to add additional warming and cooling factors to balance it and create Earth's moderate temperatures. Adding human sources of greenhouse gases, such as factories, power plants, cars, and farms, unbalance the mobile again, and Earth's temperatures become too warm.

Catching a Heat Wave
Children ages 10 to 13 model the effect of greenhouse gases on the Earth's atmosphere. Softballs represent the invisible infrared radiation emitted by the Earth as it is heated by sunlight. Armed with softball gloves and oven mitts representing greenhouse gases or embroidery hoops representing the inert gases nitrogen and oxygen, the children attempt to catch and throw the balls! They find that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane are uniquely shaped to catch and pass on infrared radiation, and so they are responsible for the warmth we enjoy on Earth. The children discuss how the addition of greenhouse gases by human activities leads to further warming and what steps we can take to slow it.

Flip-Flops or Boots
Children ages 9 to 13 undertake a long-term reading program to discover that, while weather is what helps you decide to wear flip-flops or boots on a given day, climate determines the ratio of the warm-weather shoe type over the cold within your closet. Children work in teams to research one of seven regions of the United States, collecting information about the climate, weather, crops, plants, and animals typical of the area. They share their findings on a regional map, and when assembled on the wall, the completed map of the United States indicates the key climate-related characteristics of each region. As a wrap-up, teams may put on a play or fashion show, create an exhibit for the library, or write a book showcasing their assigned region. The community can be invited to participate in a celebration showcasing regional foods and activities or in a photo contest.

Polar Bears Go With the Floes
In this 45-60-minute "high-stakes" board game, everyone wins or everyone loses! As they play, groups of three to four children ages 8 to 13 build an understanding of how human actions impact global change. As teams, children play a game in which chance and choice determine the fate of a lone polar bear on an ice floe!

Last updated
December 2, 2009


Back to top