Polar Detectives: Using Ice Core Data to Decode Past Climate Mysteries

This Polar Detectives: Using Ice Core Data to Decode Past Climate Mysteries lesson plan also includes:

How does examining an ice core tell us about weather? Learners set up and explore fake ice cores made of sugar, salt, and ash to represent historical snowfall and volcanic eruptions. From their setups, scholars determine what caused the abnormal weather that occured in the Northern Hemisphere in 1816. 

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CCSS: Adaptable
NGSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Use activity to introduce unit on climate change and in unit, discuss how scientists analyze ice core samples of gases as well to show changes in carbon dioxide levels
  • Make a lab data sheet for individuals or groups to turn in
  • For high school learners, look up article in footnote and read in class
Classroom Considerations

  • Activity calls for groups of six learners; for a more focused group, limit group sizes to three to four
  • Snowflake images are a little small; enlarge them for easier analysis
Pros

  • Includes critical thinking questions throughout the activity
  • Scenario engages learners because it is intriguing and will spark discussion and further questions
Cons

  • Does not include a key for teacher reference
Common Core