Mini Glacier Meltdown

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This activity (located on page 3 of the PDF under GPS: Glaciers Activity) is a full inquiry investigation about the different causes of glacial melt. Groups of learners will design their own experiment using frozen "glaciers", bricks and different energy sources (fans, and lights) to test how different conditions affect the rate of melting. The results might be surprising. Relates to linked video, DragonflyTV GPS: Glaciers.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
1 to 7 days

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 3 lamps, each with a 75-watt bulb
  • 3 fans
  • 9 quart-sized plastic containers (like those from cottage cheese)
  • 6 equal sized bricks (3 dark colored and 3 light colored)
  • a beaker (1 liter capacity)
  • a timer
  • 9 plastic trays (at least 20 cm square and 5 cm deep)
  • a graduated cylinder, 200 mL capacity


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
      • Atmosphere
    • Earth's History
      • Geologic Time
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Rate
    • Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
      • Heat Transfer
      • Thermodynamics and Entropy
    • States of Matter
      • Changes of Phase
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2007

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 610429