Educational Resources


Contributed by Julia Dooley, MEd., Artist, and Teacher of the Gifted and Talented

1IMG 5319Data from ice and sediment cores provide climatic and geologic history. The science of telling the story of time through sediment and ice coring might not seem that complicated, but it can be very confusing to student, and non-scientific audiences. Even explaining that uppermost layers tell the most recent history, and deeper layers recording older periods, does not go far enough to clarify concepts. Since it is impossible to take field trips to the polar ice sheets, or in ocean drill ships, I developed the Life Cores Sci-Art activity.

This activity has students creating a model core of a period of time in their current activities. Students are given plastic tubes 2’ long and 2” in diameter and add a daily layer of materials from their everyday life, for a set period of time. Students choose materials important to them personally, and keep journals, reflecting on items’ significance, and/or relationship to life and world events. Students use core logging sheets to make observations of each others’ life cores, noting layer colors, textures and deposition rates as some of the characteristics researchers use in ice and sediment core interpretation.

The passage of time, as recorded with recognizable, personal indicators, allows for better understanding of the question, How do know what we know from coring?

How/when to use it: This activity works best to introduce coring. If time allows, have students make their own Life Cores in advance and bring to a workshop, or class. You may also construct your own core as a way of introducing yourself, as well as the science. Students love to hear your personal stories!