Educational Resources


AVdP ice shelf edge 760x360- Contributed by PEI member Megan Gunderson, Dillingham, Alaska

The melting polar ice issue is ubiquitous; even kindergarteners have heard about it. However, most people (both child and adult alike) are not aware of the difference between sea ice and land ice melt, or even that there is a very important distinction between two as it concerns sea level rise.  

The best way to present this to students is through a demonstration, or better yet let them team up and do the experiments themselves!  Run them through the scientific process (the classroom teacher will adore you for this).  Ask them to make predictions, document observations, and finally explain the results.  For grades 4-8, Antarctic Geological Drilling (ANDRILL) has a great experiment with printables all ready for you to use!  Younger students could do this experiment as well, but will need you to walk them through the directions more explicitly (some of those little guys can’t read, but they can understand the science concept you want to convey!).

Most of the lessons online are written or funded by polar science organizations.  In a fun twist, the Everglades National Park in Florida has published its own lesson on Antarctic ice melt.  It actually does makes sense that they are seeking to educate the public about increased polar ice melt . . . they have the most to lose in from an increase in sea level!  Check out their lesson and materials at Sea Level Change: Climate Change on the NPS Everglades website.

Additionally, the National Science Foundation funded a thorough set of units during the International Polar Year that can be accessed through PBS.  The Melting Ice lesson in particular is the perfect resource if you are mentoring or visiting a middle or high school classroom.

Pro Tip:  make sure you collect and bring all necessary experiment materials to the site.  As a classroom teacher myself, I can guarantee you that most classrooms (even some of the secondary science ones) will not have an adequate library of materials for you to successfully perform the experiment. Many classrooms will not even have running water, so it would be wise to bring a few gallon jugs of water to expedite the front end of your experiment/demonstration.