Educational Resources

Albedo: measuring the reflective properties of different surfaces

Students measure the albedo and surface temperature of various ice surfaces and changing processes as the ice melts over time. Students apply what they’ve learned in the experiment to the understanding of albedo, and the role albedo plays in the Earth’s energy budget.

NGSS Aligned Lesson plan
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Asking questions, Developing and using models, Earth science, Obtaining and evaluating information, Physical science, Planning investigations, Sea ice
Grade Level: Middle School, High School, University/college
Developer: U.S. Ice Drilling Program
Arctic Climate Curriculum: Do you really want to visit the Arctic?

This jigsaw activity is designed for students to become familiar with several datasets of Arctic weather data, collected in Eureka on Ellesmere Island. Students join a role-playing activity to read and interpret graphs while considering the optimal time to plan a research mission to the Arctic.

NGSS Aligned Lesson plan
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Arguing from evidence, Asking questions, Climate, Computational thinking, Constructing explanations, Earth science, Obtaining and evaluating information, Physical science
Grade Level: Middle School, High School, University/college
Developer: CIRES
Arctic Climate Curriculum: Exploring Arctic Climate Data

Students dig into authentic Arctic climate data to unravel some causes and effects related to the seasonal melting of the snowpack. In particular, students learn about albedo and its relationship to snowmelt. This concept applied to global climate change on a large scale as well, and students go on to learn about the role of albedo as a self-reinforcing feedback mechanism.

NGSS Aligned Lesson plan
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Arguing from evidence, Climate, Computational thinking, Constructing explanations, Earth science, Physical science
Grade Level: Middle School, High School, University/college
Developer: CIRES
Arctic Climate Curriculum: Exploring the Arctic

This activity introduces students to the Arctic, including different definitions of the Arctic and exploration of the Arctic environment and Arctic people. Students set out on a virtual exploration of the geography of the Arctic using Google Earth. Students go on to learn about meteorological parameters that are measured by Arctic research teams and practice the measurements in hands-on activities.

Lesson plan
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Arguing from evidence, Asking questions, Computational thinking, Earth science, Geography, Life science, Obtaining and evaluating information, Physical science, Planning investigations
Grade Level: Middle School, High School, University/college
Developer: CIRES
Arctic Ocean Circulation

In this interactive graphic, students click on Arctic Ocean currents to follow sea water as it enters and exits the Arctic.

Project of Mosaic Quick bite
Subject: Oceans and ocean circulation
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School, High School

Arctic Ocean Ecosystem

In this interactive graphic, students click on animals to learn more about their role within the Arctic Ocean ecosystem.

Project of Mosaic Quick bite
Subject: Ecosystems
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School, High School

Arctic Ocean Exploration: Being Productive in the Arctic Ocean

Students analyze sea ice cover, nutrient, and primary productivity data to understand factors that may limit primary productivity in the Arctic Ocean.

Lesson plan
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Arguing from evidence, Ecosystems, Life science, Oceans and ocean circulation, Sea ice
Grade Level: High School
Developer: NOAA
Arctic Ocean Exploration: Current Events

Using authentic data and two hands on activities, students explore the driving forces for ocean currents, with a focus on the Arctic Ocean.

Lesson plan
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Developing and using models, Earth science, Oceans and ocean circulation, Physical science, Sea ice
Grade Level: High School
Developer: NOAA
Arctic Ocean Exploration: Would You Like a Sample?

Students simulate a sampling of Arctic marine biology communities to learn about the limitations of biologic sampling techniques and marine biodiversity in the Arctic Ocean.

Lesson plan
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Arguing from evidence, Ecosystems, Life science, Oceans and ocean circulation
Grade Level: Middle School
Developer: NOAA
Arctic SMARTIC (Strategic Management of Resources in Times of Change)

Students will build off of an introductory presentation on climate change in the Arctic to devise a strategy to manage climate change impacts on a global scale (the Arctic). After a brief synopsis on current issues and management approaches in the Arctic, students will use information based on the stakeholders and interests they've identified in readings done before class, to pinpoint areas of high interest, negotiate conflicts, and develop a sustainable, multi-stakeholder management plan for high priority areas. 

Lesson plan
Subject: Arguing from evidence, ELA, Geography, Obtaining and evaluating information
Grade Level: High School, University/college

Atmosphere Layers & Greenhouse Effect Model Activity

Students learn how models are constructed and how they work using a gameboard activity to represent the layers of Earth’s atmosphere and the greenhouse effect.

Lesson plan
Subject: Atmosphere, Developing and using models, Physical science
Grade Level: Middle School, High School
Developer: UCAR, Center for Science Education
Cold Cases: Who Won the Race to the North Pole - Cook or Peary?

Students use primary sources to conduct a mock trial to debate whether Cook or Peary was the first explorer to reach the North Pole.

Lesson plan
Subject: Arguing from evidence, ELA, Expeditions, Geography, Obtaining and evaluating information
Grade Level: High School
Developer: Ohio State University
Create Classroom Ice Cores

Students analyze two different ice core models (made of layers of ice frozen in pringles cans) to observe changes in past climates.

Lesson plan
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Climate, Earth science, Engineering and technology, Physical science
Grade Level: Middle School, High School
Developer: Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center
Design and Build a Sea Ice Drifter

In an engineering design challenge, students learn about sea ice and sea ice observation technology to build and design their own sea ice drifter.

Project of Mosaic Lesson plan
Subject: Asking questions, Constructing explanations, Engineering and technology, Physical science, Sea ice
Grade Level: 3-5
Developer: SMILE Oregon State
EcoChains: Arctic Life Game

The EcoChains Arctic Life game accurately models the effects of climate change on wildlife food-webs. The game shows how human actions such as the development of alternative energy can influence carbon pollution.

Game
Subject: Arguing from evidence, Constructing explanations, Earth science, Ecosystems, Life science, Obtaining and evaluating information, Sea ice
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School, High School
Developer: Ecochains
Extreme Ecosystems: A Biodiversity Lesson

Students will identify and categorize plants and animals in the Arctic with an emphasis on which animals are endangered, threatened, or a species of special concern. Students will participate in individual species studies, presentations, and an interactive class trivia game.

Lesson plan
Subject: Ecosystems, ELA, Life science, Obtaining and evaluating information
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School
Developer: Polar Bears International
Fluid Earth Viewer

Explore atmospheric and oceanographic conditions in the Arctic or anywhere else on the globe with this incredible data visualization tool.

Data visualization
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Atmosphere, Earth science, Geography, Oceans and ocean circulation
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School, High School, University/college, Adult
Developer: Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center
Global Temperature Changes and Arctic Amplification

Looking at how global temperatures have changed over time can give us valuable insight into our planet's health. Show your students this animation of global temperature anomalies between 1880-2017. Make sure students know that this is not showing absolute temperatures, but rather how temperatures around the globe at different times in the past compare to the average temperature between 1951-1980 (warmer colors = hotter than average; cooler colors = cooler than average). Discuss as a class: What do you see? What do you notice? What is going on in the Arctic specifically?

Project of Mosaic Quick bite
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Climate, Earth science, Geography, mosaic monday, Physical science
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School, High School, University/college, Adult
Developer: NASA
I Notice I Wonder
Project of Mosaic Quick bite
Subject: Expeditions
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School, High School, University/college, Adult
Developer: CIRES
Impacts of a Warming Arctic

Using NASA data, learners evaluate evidence for decreasing ice in the Arctic and explore the impact of global climate change on the Arctic.

Lesson plan
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Atmosphere, Climate, Constructing explanations, Earth science, Sea ice
Grade Level: Middle School, High School, University/college, Adult
Developer: NASA
Jelly Critters

Students conduct research on species of gelatinous zooplankton, and learn about their importance in the Arctic food web.

Lesson plan
Subject: Climate, Ecosystems, Geography, Life science, Obtaining and evaluating information
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School
Developer: NOAA
Keep it Cool

When you put on layers to stay warm in the winter, or use a cooler to keep food cool, have you ever wondered about the science of thermal energy transfer? Challenge your students to utilize their understanding of thermal energy transfer and transformation to develop a simple, lightweight, and efficient method for storing and transporting ice cores.

NGSS Aligned Lesson plan
Subject: Engineering and technology, Physical science
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School
Developer: Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center
Know Your Ocean: Polar Research

Learn more about polar topics like glaciers and ice sheets, Arctic sea life, and sea ice in these polar research educational modules from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.


Subject: Earth science, Ecosystems, Geography, Life science, Obtaining and evaluating information, Oceans and ocean circulation, Physical science, Sea ice
Grade Level: Middle School, High School, University/college, Adult

Land Ice/Sea Ice: How does melting ice affect sea level?

Students use a simple model to compare sea level rise due to melting land ice versus melting sea ice.

Lesson plan
Subject: Asking questions, Constructing explanations, Developing and using models, Physical science, Sea ice
Grade Level: Middle School
Developer: U.S. Ice Drilling Program
Learn About the Equinox

Before she left to spend several weeks in the Arctic Ocean aboard an icebreaker on the MOSAiC expedition, PolarTREC educator Katie Gavenus put together a collection of educational resources for teaching about the equinox. Whether you're a fan of kinesthetic activities, art, or video lessons, there's something here for you!

Lesson plan
Subject: Constructing explanations, Developing and using models, Earth science
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School, High School

MOSAiC Data Logbook

Your students can be MOSAiC scientists by analyzing real-time data from the expedition each week. Download the MOSAiC Data Log Book and look for the data in each MOSAiC Monday newsletter throughout the expedition. Over time, your students will be able to use the data they've graphed to make interpretations about seasonality in the Arctic and Arctic weather conditions.

*Note: We expect data to fall within the following ranges:

Length of Day: 0 to 24 hours

Temperature: -40 to 14 °C

Sea Ice Extent: 3 to 15 million km2

Download the MOSAiC Data Log Book

Project of Mosaic Quick bite
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Earth science, Expeditions
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, Middle School, High School, University/college
Developer: CIRES
MOSAiC in Numbers Trivia

What temperatures will the MOSAiC researchers endure during the expedition? How far with the Polarstern drift during its 13 month journey? Introduce your students to the MOSAiC expedition and count down to the expedition launch with this MOSAiC in Numbers trivia quiz.

Project of Mosaic Game
Subject: Expeditions
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, Middle School, High School
Developer: CIRES
MOSAiC Math

Can you solve these MOSAiC expedition math problems?

Project of Mosaic Quick bite
Subject: Computational thinking, Expeditions, mosaic monday
Grade Level: Middle School, High School, University/college
Developer: CIRES
Northwest Passage

Students use Google Earth to explore changing ice conditions in the Arctic, and how these changing conditions affect shipping routes, fossil fuel extraction, geopolitics, and other Arctic issues.

Lesson plan
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Climate, Geography, Geopolitics, Sea ice
Grade Level: High School, University/college
Developer: Glenn RichardSERC
One World Ocean

In this hands-on activity, students learn about ocean currents and the difference between salt and fresh water using colored ice cubes and glasses of fresh and salt water.

NGSS Aligned Lesson plan
Subject: Developing and using models, Earth science, Oceans and ocean circulation, Physical science
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School
Developer: Teach Engineering
Polar Bear Tracker

Students will explore the world of polar bear researchers through the PBI Bear Tracker webpage and the Bear Tracker PowerPoint. They will understand how polar bears are studied using radio collar tracking and track bears in real time. Through the inquiry process, create scientific investigable questions just like real researchers, and learn how you can take action to help polar bears.

Lesson plan
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Asking questions, Climate, Ecosystems, Life science
Grade Level: Middle School, High School
Developer: Polar Bears International
Polar Bears in a Warming World:A Climate Change Lesson

Students will locate and distinguish the four major sea ice eco-regions in the Arctic and explore the impacts of sea ice loss over time due to climate change and the ensuing threats these changes may have on the Arctic ecosystem and its inhabitants.

Lesson plan
Subject: Climate, Constructing explanations, Earth science, Ecosystems, Life science, Sea ice
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School
Developer: Polar Bears International
Polar Discovery: Arctic Ocean Circulation

The Arctic Ocean is a unique part of the globe, covered by ice much of the year and fairly isolated from the other oceans. Learn about how water in the Arctic Ocean moves around and why using this interactive graphic from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. 

Data visualization
Subject: Earth science, Geography, Obtaining and evaluating information, Oceans and ocean circulation, Physical science
Grade Level: Middle School, High School, University/college, Adult

Polar Discovery: Arctic Ocean Ecosystem

Learn about the various plants and animals that make up Arctic Ocean ecosystems using this interactive graphic from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. 

Data visualization
Subject: Ecosystems, Life science, Obtaining and evaluating information
Grade Level: Middle School, High School, University/college, Adult

Project PARKA (Planting AntaRtica in KAnsas)

Explore this unit composed of four lessons designed to provide high school students with the background knowledge and understanding of the ocean, Antarctic science, food webs, climate change, and ocean acidification.

Photo by Michael Van Woert, NOAA/NESDIA

NGSS Aligned Lesson plan
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Arguing from evidence, Climate, Computational thinking, Constructing explanations, Earth science, Ecosystems, Life science, Oceans and ocean circulation
Grade Level: High School

Route of the Fram Expedition (1893-1896)

On July 5th, 1893, the Fram set sail from Tromsø, Norway to try to reach the highest latitude ever attained. Fridtjof Nansen, leader of the Fram expedition, attempted to freeze a custom-built wooden ship in sea ice and use Arctic currents to drift north. See where the Fram--and Nansen--drifted and dogsledded during their three years in the Arctic.

Project of Mosaic Data visualization
Subject: Expeditions, Geography, Oceans and ocean circulation
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, Middle School, High School, University/college

Sea Ice and Heat: A Vicious Cycle

Students explore the different heat absorption of ice and open water using a simple experimental set up.

Lesson plan
Subject: Developing and using models, Earth science, Physical science, Sea ice
Grade Level: Middle School, High School
Developer: UCAR, Center for Science Education
Sea Ice Predictive Model

Using sea ice extent and carbon dioxide data, students make predictions about future sea ice extent using simple statistics to evaluate a linear relationship. Students compare Arctic and Antarctic conditions.

Lesson plan
Subject: Analyzing and interpreting data, Climate, Computational thinking, Sea ice
Grade Level: High School, University/college
Developer: Joceline BoucherSERC
Story Map: How many North Poles does the Earth Have?

In this story map, learners can explore the different north poles (e.g., geographic, magnetic). 

Data visualization
Subject: Earth science, Geography
Grade Level: Middle School, High School, University/college, Adult
Developer: ESRI
The Very, Very Simple Climate Model

Through a simple online model, students learn about the relationship between average global temperature and carbon dioxide emissions while predicting temperature change over the 21st Century.

Lesson plan
Subject: Climate, Developing and using models, Earth science, Obtaining and evaluating information
Grade Level: Middle School, High School
Developer: UCAR, Center for Science Education
Timing an Arctic Expedition

The MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) expedition officially launched on September 20, 2019 when the icebreaker Polarstern set sail from Tromsø, Norway. The Polarstern will be looking for an ice floe that it can freeze into and drift along with across the Arctic for a year. The ice must be thick enough throughout the year to support the scientists and instruments that will be on it, but close to thinner ice that is easy to drill through.

Why did the MOSAiC expedition begin in September?

It turns out this isn't random, but a strategically chosen departure date. Challenge your students to use the National Snow and Ice Data Center's Charctic Interactive Sea Ice Graph to come up with an answer to this question.  Then, read more about this question here.

Photo: M. Van Woert, NOAA

Project of Mosaic Quick bite
Subject: Constructing explanations, Earth science, Expeditions, mosaic monday, Oceans and ocean circulation, Sea ice
Grade Level: Middle School, High School, University/college, Adult
Developer: CIRES
To Drill or Not to Drill? A Case Study in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

In a participatory problem-based activity students evaluate the impacts and benefits of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Using primary sources, students learn more about the tundra ecosystem and the Arctic, conservation biology, economic and political issues surrounding ANWR, and social perspectives on drilling in a pristine environment.

Lesson plan
Subject: Ecosystems, ELA, Geopolitics, Life science, Obtaining and evaluating information
Grade Level: High School, University/college
Developer: Cassandra Runyon et al.SERC
To the Ends of the Earth: Comparing the Arctic and Antarctic

Students sort picture cards using a Venn diagram to find similarities and differences between the Arctic and Antarctic.

NGSS Aligned Lesson plan
Subject: Earth science, Geography
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School
Developer: U.S. Ice Drilling Program
Top of the World

Students will identify, locate, outline, and map the Arctic Circle, including the countries that lie within its boundaries. Students will define the Arctic region by latitude, temperature, and tree line. Students will compare and contrast the human and environmental characteristics of the North and South Poles, the equator, and their home town.

Lesson plan
Subject: Geography
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School
Developer: Polar Bears International
Tour the Polarstern

Did you know the Polarstern is equipped with an indoor swimming pool? Hop aboard the Polarstern for this all-access, 3D virtual tour!

 

Project of Mosaic Quick bite
Subject: Engineering and technology, Expeditions
Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School, High School
Developer: CIRES
Tracking Ice: Arctic Sea Ice and Mathematics Curriculum

Through the course of four modules, students will estimate the accuracy of their forecast and determine if it is fit for the purpose of guiding a search and rescue mission. After building their forecasting model, students will know how to access the coordinates of buoys tracked by the International Arctic Buoy Program (IABP) to make a sea ice drift forecast. 

Lesson plan
Subject: Climate, Computational thinking, Developing and using models, Earth science, Oceans and ocean circulation, Sea ice
Grade Level: High School
Developer: SMILE Oregon State
Tracking the Polarstern

The route that the Polarstern will take across the Central Arctic is not fully known. Since the ship will be frozen in the Arctic sea ice and drifting along with it wherever it goes, we can only make predictions about the path will follow. Each week we will provide you with the latitude and longitude coordinates of the Polarstern so that your students can track its journey across the Arctic in your classroom. Download this map and plot your first set of coordinates!

Project of Mosaic Quick bite
Subject: Expeditions, Geography
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, Middle School, High School, University/college
Developer: CIRES
Where is the Arctic?

Have your students label and color the countries around the Arctic and do some research about the various people who live in the Arctic region. How is the 'Arctic' defined geographically?

Note: We suggest using the this map in conjunction with the "Tracking the Polarstern" map (download both maps and copy them front to back for your students). The inset box on the "Where is the Arctic?" map shows the boundaries for the "Tracking the Polarstern" map. 

Project of Mosaic Quick bite
Subject: Geography
Grade Level: K-2, 3-5, Middle School, High School, University/college
Developer: CIRES