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Why Doesn’t the Ocean Freeze?

Source Institutions

    New England Aquarium

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Why Doesn’t the Ocean Freeze?

In this activity, learners explore how salt water freezes in comparison to fresh water. Use this experiment to consider how pond animals survive cold winters in comparison to animals that live in the ocean. This resource includes information about freezing points as well as examples of how different animals respond to the winter cold.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Experiment/Lab Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 2 small paper cups
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup cold tap water
  • pen/pencil/marker
  • level space in the freezer


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Evolution
      • Mechanisms of Evolution
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • Chemistry
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
      • Changes of Phase
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection:

  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums


  • All Rights Reserved, New England Aquarium, ©2011


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