Lesson 6: The Age of Ice

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Enduring Understanding: What's the point?

In this lesson students will have the opportunity to explore geological features of the Arctic and how they have been shaped by its climate over thousands of years alongside an Oceanographer from McGill University.  Through their explorations students will develop an understanding of the concept of geological time scales and interactions between geology and climate.

Essential/Guiding Question:

How have the effects of climate shaped the Arctic over the years?

Curriculum Links:

Science, Geology, Geography

Lesson Framework:

Time required:

1 class period (could be shortened or extended depending on use of adaptations, enrichments, and extensions)


  • Computer lab or tablets/notebooks/laptop cart with internet access.
  • Method of recording observations and reflections

Lesson Content


Students should have a basic understanding of continental drift, geological epochs, and be familiar with the concept of an “Ice Age.”


Do a demonstration of how ice moves and “flows” using Flubber (which can be easily made using white glue, water, and Borax).  There are several recipes and sample activities to be found online (including at http://geosteph-adventuresinearthandspace.blogspot.ca/2007/12/fun-with-flubber-glacier-modeling.html )


Students will go to the Expedition Arctic website and experientially explore the various information about ice and the Arctic.  While exploring the site have students write down observations and reflections. Have students think about the following:

Specific questions:

  • What is an “Ice Age”?
  • What is climate change?
  • What causes climate change?
  • How are climate change and ice related?
  • How does ice help shape the geology of the Arctic?
  • What can the geology of the Arctic tell us about the climate historically?
  • What can Arctic ice tell us about the climate historically?

General questions:

  • What interested you the most?
  • What surprised you to learn?
  • What is one thing you would like to know more about?

Formative Assessment/Debrief:

Think-Pair-Share (Students are given time to think about their response to a specific question or topic, pair up with a partner and discuss, and then share their collective thoughts with the class or another pair).

  • Based on reflection questions
  • Based on guiding question

Have a class discussion based around reflection questions.

Split into small groups and create a poster answer to guiding question using flipchart paper.



Go through the lesson on a Smart Board with the class as a whole.

Instead of merely demonstrating glacial action with Flubber, have students experiment and make their own discoveries.


Have students explore the expedition section of the website and view the photos and videos of the Arctic landscapes and ice masses.

Have students go to the NOAA Arctic website to explore changes in Arctic ice coverage over time. (http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/detect/ice-seaice.shtml)

After the activity, return to using Flubber.  Have students use the knowledge about glaciers they gained through the activity to further explore glacial movement with Flubber, and how different factors can affect glacial movement.


Expand the activity by using Lesson 2: Explorations in Science to guide learning about scientist’s careers to fulfill career expectations of science curriculum.

Link this lesson to the closer examination of Arctic food webs and trophic structures using Lesson 3: Arctic Food Webs.

Explore Arctic marine organisms using Lesson 4: Arctic Aquatic Life.

Learn about adaptations of organisms to extreme environments through Lesson 5: Life at the Top of the World.

Learn about fossil records and what Arctic fossils can teach us with Lesson 7: Ancient Arctic.

Explore how changes in the global climate are affecting the Arctic, and how these changes affect the rest of the world in Lesson 8: Changing Climate.