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Arctic Ocean and Sea Ice Education Tools

Polar Literacy Principles

Educators can use the Float Your Boat project to teach learners many of the concepts within the Polar Literacy Principles related to sea ice, circulation, climate, and technology. 

These are a curated list of lesson plans and units educators can utilize with their students to teach about  the Arctic Ocean circulation, sea ice, and how it is changing. 


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. 
Grade Level: High School

Time: 4 modules over multiple class periods

Developer: SMILE Oregon State

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 Quick Bite: Arctic Current Events

Using sea ice motion vectors on a polar project map, learners connect the dots to visualize the Arctic Ocean surface currents. 
Grade Level: Middle and High School

Time: 10-15 minutes

Developer: MOSAiC

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Design and Build a Polar Ice Drifter

Students will understand what sea ice is, where it is located, and how it moves; understand why scientists use remote sensing to study sea ice; design a drifter that meets criteria similar to current sea ice drifters that sense various aspects of the polar environment; and go through the engineering and design process to design, build, test and improve their sea ice sensor.
Grade Level: Upper Elementary, Middle School

Time: 1-2 50-minute class periods

Developer: SMILE Oregon State

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Arctic Feedbacks: Not All Warming Is Equal

In this MS/HS unit, students engage with 360° virtual reality tours, authentic Arctic datasets, and app-based labs to construct models and explanations for the unit driving question, "Why might the Arctic be warming twice as fast as the rest of the world?"
Grade Level: Middle and High School

Time: Various

Developer: CIRES

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Arctic Ocean Curriculum Unit

The unit traces the movement of energy throughout the Arctic Ocean environment. There is a total of 18 lessons broken into two main components. These Arctic Ocean-related lesson plans were created by PolarTREC program teacher alumni.
Grade Level: All grades

Time: Various

Developer: PolarTREC

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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.

Grade Level: High School

Time: 30 minutes

Developer: NOAA

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The Writing's In the Ice

Did you know that sea ice has a life cycle? Learn more in this short activity. 
Grade Level: Middle School, High School

Time: 30 minutes
Developer: CIRES

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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.

Grade Level: High SchoolUniversity/college

Time: 30 minutes

Developer: Maine Maritime Academy

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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.

Grade Level: Middle School

Time: 30 minutes

Developer: U.S. Ice Drilling Program

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Sea Ice and Heat: A Vicious Cycle

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

Grade Level: Middle School and High School


Developer: UCAR, Center for Science Education

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

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.

Grade Level: 3-5, Middle School

Time: 45 minutes

Developer: Teach Engineering

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New Ice, New Problems

The sea ice in the Arctic is becoming newer and thinner. What kinds of impacts could this have on the Arctic region? 
Grade Level: Middle SchoolHigh SchoolUniversity/college

Time: 30 minutes

Developer: CIRES

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Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is an online professional development magazine which focuses on preparing elementary teachers to teach polar science concepts while also integrating inquiry-based science and literacy instruction. 

Grade Level: Elementary
Time: n/a

Developer: Byrd Polar Reserach Center

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More Resources

Find more Arctic Ocean currents and sea ice lessons at 

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