Lab 3: Land Ice

The lab activity described here was developed by Erin Bardar of TERC for the EarthLabs project.

Summary and Learning Objectives

In the first part of this lab, students will learn about how glaciers form and the different processes that contribute to glacial mass balance by using an online interactive to explore how glaciers provide scientists with evidence for climate change. In Part B, they will learn about how & why glaciers move. In Part C, students will make a model of a glacier out of a putty-like substance called gak and conduct a hands-on experiment to explore glacial movement.

After completing this investigation, students will be able to:

  • describe how scientists use glacial mass balance to look for changes in climate
  • describe how glaciers move and shape Earth's surface
  • create a model of glacial movement using gak/flubber
  • describe how we know what we know about glacier dynamics

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Overview and Teaching Materials

Detailed overview of what students will do in each lab activity, how long it will take, and what materials are required to complete the lab.

Printable Materials

Download and print files needed for each lab activity, including images, data tables, and Stop and Think questions.

Teaching Notes and Tips

General recommendations for classroom implementation as well as guidelines and facilitation tips for leading class discussions.

Student Notebooks

Suggestions for how to use Student Notebooks for Lab 3.


There are several options for assessment of student understanding of material introduced in this lab. Choose from the following list, or create your own assessments.

Science Standards

Lab 3 supports the following Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):

Additional Resources

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