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Ice on Mars

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Ice on Mars

In this activity, learners use sand and ice cubes to create a model of permafrost and the effects of the ice melting through the surface. Permafrost is an underground layer of soil, rock and water that remains permanently frozen and is found mostly in polar regions. This activity can be used with lessons on polar regions, climate change, Mars and freezing/melting. This activity can be found on pages 50-51 of the activity guide.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
1 to 2 hours

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Cookie sheet pan
  • Wax paper
  • 2 cups of sand
  • 4 ice cubes
  • Resealable plastic bags
  • Paper towels
  • Thick book for propping up the tray
  • Worksheet – Modelling Ice on Mars
  • Observation Sheet
  • Pens or pencils


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Rocks and Minerals
      • Oceans and Water
    • Solar System
      • The Planets
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

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


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection:

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All Rights Reserved, TERC, ©2007

Funding Sources:

  • NASA, NAS5-26555
  • National Science Foundation, NSF 9730728


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