Why do glaciers melt? Does climate change have an influence on this process? What are the results of their melting? Conduct an experiment which will make children aware of one of the dangerous consequences of climate change.
- 2 mugs
- A hammer
- A big vessel (ideally transparent)
- A few pebbles
- A marker pen
- A small figurine of an animal/a small doll
The experiment consists of two parts. During the first part, you’ll examine what happens to a glacier when the air temperature rises.
Pour water into a mug and put it into the freezer. After freezing, take the ice out of the mug and shape a glacier using a hammer or other tools (optional). Pour a lot of water into the bigger vessel and mark the water level using a marker pen. Now put the ice into the vessel.
Let the children see what happens to the water level and mark the rise with a new line. Explain that we observe a similar phenomenon when a glacier is broken down by climate change and starts drifting in the ocean. Ice is lighter than water, which is why it floats. Although its top is always visible, 90% of the glacier is in fact hidden underwater. On a larger scale, the huge blocks of ice in the sea displace the water, causing sea levels to rise. If there are more glaciers like that in the ocean, it may cause some islands to sink and inundate some countries which are situated near coastlines (e.g.the Netherlands or the United States).
You will observe this consequence of climate change in the second part of the experiment.
Pour water into a mug and put it into the freezer for a few hours. After freezing, take the ice out and put it into the big vessel. It will represent a glacier. Put some pebbles into the vessel too – representing islands – and add a doll/figurine on top to represent the inhabitants of the Islands. Pour some water into the vessel; it will act as a sea. The water should cover part of the pebbles, but be sure to leave some dry land so that the water doesn’t touch the figurine.
Leave this set up for about half an hour (depending on the temperature of the room/class). Then, check what has happened to the glacier, sea, islands and inhabitants of the islands. The glacier will melt and the water will touch or cover the figurines in a illustration of the consequences of climate change.