All Resources, Activities and Labs

This link takes you to the entire list of all activities and labs created by the Ice Drilling Program. (It is also shown below.) The list has links embedded and a brief description of each. Just click on the activity name. The last column tells which activities and labs are related to each other and also have embedded links.

Note: At the bottom of this list are the ANDRILL resources ELF: Environmental Literacy with a Focus on Climate Change and the Antarctic Climate Secrets books created with National Science Foundation and NOAA environmental literacy grant funding. These are posted here with permission from ANDRILL.




Listed by Topic 


Picture Activity Title Description

Related Activities

Ice Core Science Albedo Students will measure the albedo and surface temperature of various ice mixtures and the changing properties as the ice melts over time. Students will move from understanding what albedo is, to the larger scale of its role in Earth’s energy budget. Greenland is Melting

Land Ice/Sea Ice; ELF-1D-Earth’s Albedo; ELF-1E-Sea Ice Cycles



Decoding Ice Cores: Atmospheric Analysis-How much carbon dioxide was in the atmosphere in the past? In this lab, the relative amount of CO2 in melted “ice core samples” will be determined using a conductivity meter. Then students will graph their results and compare to the 800,000 ice core record. Decoding Ice Cores (all labs); Ice Core Lab-Maloney; ELF-1C-Carbon Journey; ELF-4B-Life in an Acid Bath
Decoding Ice Cores: Isotopic Analysis–How warm was Earth in the past? In this lab we will use 5-pennies to model water molecules sampled from each of 11 different “ice core layers” dating from the present to almost 500,000 years ago. The goal is to determine the temperature of climate in the past by comparing the average isotopic mass of the water molecules in the ice cores to the standard average isotopic mass of water from the ocean. Students will then compare their results to the 800,000 year ice core record. Decoding Ice Cores (all labs); Ice Core Lab-Maloney
Decoding Ice Cores: Proxy and Direct Measurement (2 Labs)

Lab #1–Using Direct Measurements to 

Analyze the Earth’s Climate History

Lab #2–Developing Proxy Mathematical Models to 

Analyze Earth’s Historical Climate

VIDEO: Ice Cores as Proxies: What is a Proxy?

Two-part lab

Lab: #1–direct measurements are used to compare the history recorded in an ice core to the history recorded in a tree ring. 

Lab #2–proxy models will be developed from direct measurements to be used to reveal climate conditions thousands of years in the past. 

Decoding Ice Cores (all labs); Ice Core Lab-Maloney; ELF-2F–Dead Diatoms Do Tell Tales; ELF-2G-Evidence of Ice Free Seas;
Drill Model: Demonstrate how scientists and drillers retrieve ice cores from beneath the ice sheets Students build this drill model and then teach others about how ice cores are retrieved from under the ice sheets in Greenland and in Antarctica. Life Cores; Decoding Ice Cores (all labs); Drilling Back Through Time; Ice Core Lab-Maloney; ELF-2B–Build a Model Drill Site
Drilling Back Through Time: Polar Science and Engineering This activity is offered as a means of introducing students to the Scientific and Engineering Practices, as outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  Decoding Ice Cores: Engineering Challenge– Designing a Portable Drilling Rig
Engineering Challenge: Designing a Portable Drilling Rig To be successful with the challenge, classroom teams complete each of five parts: 1) Design a portable rig; 2) Create a detailed list and instructions; 3)  Pack up a parts kit; 4) Swap kits; 5) Pull the assembled rig across the table and retrieve an “ice core.”  Decoding Ice Cores (all labs);

 Long Haul

1-Ice Core Lab–Maloney

2-Ice Core Lab Middle School/High School adaptation eliminating the need to freeze ice cores or use tools to break down the ice cores.

3-Google sheet  needed for both of the labs above.

This lab is an engaging hands-on activity demonstrating that CO2 is a direct measurement while hydrogen isotopes are used as a proxy for temperature measurements. Through the study of ice cores, scientists have developed a continuous record of CO2 and temperature records going back 800,000 years. Requires freezer space and several days of freezing time. Decoding Ice Cores (all labs); ELF–1C-Carbon Journey
Land Ice/Sea Ice/Grounded Ice Land Ice/Sea Ice/Grounded Ice: How does melting ice affect sea level? ELF-3C–How does melting ice affect sea level?
ice cores, ice core science, arts and science Life Cores: How do we know what we know about the science of ice cores? By building a personal “life core,” students are introduced to some of the techniques and vocabulary used by scientists as they study ice cores. Decoding Ice Cores (all labs);

 Drilling Back Through Time;

 Drill Model; Ice Core Lab;

LC 130, Antarctica, scientists Long Haul: Ice Core Challenge Students’ primary task in this activity is to design a container that will keep an ice core from melting over time AND to do so while spending the least amount of “money.” Engineering Challenge– Designing a Portable Drilling Rig; Drilling Back Through Time
glaciers, glacier dynamics, hands-on, inquiry, 5-12, college, lab Slip Sliding Away: Exploring glacier dynamics Students explore how glaciers move by using “glacier goo/flubber,” (a polymer made with glue and Borax solution) whose properties model the movement of glacial ice. Through an open or guided inquiry, students make a hypothesis and then test their ideas. Subglacial Lakes; ELF-2E–When Ice Meets the Sea; ELF-3D-Build a Model Glacier

Observing subglacial lake runoff

Subglacial Lakes: What’s happening under the ice sheets? Students observe a subglacial lake model and measure changes in temperature, salinity and sea level rise as the glaciers/ice sheets and subglacial lakes melt.. Students will move from the small model to discussions of implications for Earth systems. Slip Sliding Away; ELF-2E–When Ice Meets the Sea; ELF-3D-Build a Model Glacier
Nature OF Science– the process of science Nature vs. Science: The Hypothesis Card Game Students play a game of cards to learn how scientists study nature. Understanding the nature of science underpins all of the other activities and labs
Ocean Circulation Thermohaline Circulation and Abrupt Climate Change: Greenland is Melting In this investigation, we will analyze how the density of the ocean surrounding Greenland may change as a result of increasing amounts of meltwater coming off the Greenland Ice Sheet. Land Ice/Sea Ice; Albedo; ELF-3A-Global Ocean Conveyor Belt;
ELF-3B-Cold, Salty, Deep; ELF-5B-Full of Hot Air
Polar Science– Exploring the Arctic and Antarctic Arctic, Antarctic, Polar Regions, polar science, 5-12, educators To the Ends of the Earth: Comparing the Arctic and Antarctic Going to the “ends of the Earth” takes you to the Arctic and the Antarctic. This activity engages students in sorting picture cards comparing similarities and differences between the Polar Regions in a table-sized Venn Diagram. Related to all activities based on research in the polar regions
Teaching Tools Reflection Activities Ideas for how to get students to reflect on a lesson or unit of study. Can be used with all activities
Stink Test In a time when evidence based information is questioned, it is imperative that we teach our students how to recognize whether a source is valid or not. The STINK Test gives them the tools to do just that. Important for any activities requiring understanding research and media reports
Video Links IDP-EO and ice core researchers have created many videos for use in classrooms. Many topics
Careers Careers in Science and Technology Short bios of ice science researchers–Coming soon: videos “in their own voices” and field trips to their labs and into the field. Related to all activities relying on polar research
COYT: Checking Out Your Team The primary goal of this scientist-supported activity is to generate information and excitement about careers in the field of ice core research. Related to all activities relying on polar research
ELF–Environmental Literacy with a Focus on Climate Change–resource by ANDRILL–posted with permission Chapter 1 ENERGY

1A- Flashlights on Earth 

This investigation will explore how the angle of the Earth’s surface impacts the amount of solar radiation received in a given area. 

1B- Biome Sorting 

This activity explores Earth’s diverse ecological biomes and how they can be affected by climate change. 

1C- Carbon Journey 

Take an atom of carbon on a ‘journey’ through the carbon cycle by playing the carbon journey game. 

1D- Earth’s Albedo 

Albedo is measured using maps, data tables and a shaker filled with popcorn kernels. Estimate the Earth’s energy budget by calculating the absorbed radiation of various Earth’s surfaces. 

1E- Sea Ice Cycles 

Visually explore, animate, and measure changing sea ice extent in the Arctic using a flip book and satellite images of the North Pole. 

1A–pp. 3-121B–pp. 13-30

1C–pp. 31-60

1D–pp. 61-72

1E–pp. 33-90


Decoding Ice Cores: Atmospheric Analysis

Nature vs Science; Reflection Activities; Careers in Science; 


ELF–Environmental Literacy with a Focus on Climate Change–resource by ANDRILL–posted with permission Chapter 2 GEOSPHERE

2A- Plates and Gates 

This activity explores how plate tectonics affect ocean currents and biodiversity. 

2B- Build a Model ANDRILL Drill Site 

Students build a model drill rig and compare past environments represented by the sediment cores retrieved. 

2C- Mix up a Model Rock Core 

Learners create a model of an ocean sediment core with different sediment layers representing the presence of a grounded glacier, an ice shelf and open water. 

2D- Mess Free Rock Cores 

Students build models using photographs and paper towel tubes and then interpret various layers in sediment cores making inferences about climate change. 

2E- When Ice Meets the Sea 

Learners simulate the moving of a glacier from land to floating over the ocean creating an ice shelf and pressure ridge

2F- Dead Diatoms Do Tell Tales 

Learners tell the story of climate change using the proxy of ice shelf advance and retreat by collecting data from simulated ocean bottom sediment cores. 

2GEvidence of Ice Free Seas 

Learners create a sediment core model, collect date in the form of cool and warm water diatoms and then make inferences about changes in the ocean’s environment over geologic time. 

2A–pp. 93-110

2B–pp. 111-118

2C–pp. 119-124

2D–pp. 125-138

2E–pp. 139-144

2F–pp. 145-154

2G–pp. 155-164

Decoding Ice Cores: Direct and Proxy Measures; Drill Model; Slip Sliding Away; Subglacial Lakes; Nature vs Science; Reflection Activities; Careers in Science; 


ELF–Environmental Literacy with a Focus on Climate Change--resource by ANDRILL–posted with permission Chapter 3 HYDROSPHERE

3A- Global Ocean Conveyor Belt 

3B- Cold Salty and Deep 

This activity models the origin of density currents in the Antarctic region. 

3C-How Does Melting Ice Affect Sea Level? 

Compare how melting ice affects sea level by creating two models that are identical except for one factor: one will have ice on “land” and the other will have ice in the “sea.” 

3D-Build a Model Glacier 

In this activity, students build a model of a glacier to demonstrate how glaciers and ice sheets form, fill in valleys and change landscapes. 

3A–pp. 167-174

3B–pp. 175-184

3C–pp. 185-188

3D–pp. 189-196

Greenland is Melting;

 Nature vs Science; Reflection Activities; Careers in Science; 

COYTLand Ice/Sea Ice; Slip Sliding Away; Subglacial Lakes; 

ELF–Environmental Literacy with a Focus on Climate Change--resource by ANDRILL–posted with permission Chapter 4 BIOSPHERE 

4A- Phenology: Step Together Step 

This activity creates a life cycle graph and demonstrates how climate changes can affect the life cycle patterns of dependent species. 

4B- Life in an Acid Bath 

The effects of lowering the pH of the ocean on shelled organisms is demonstrated using a model of ocean acidification. 

4C- Biodiverisity/ Habitat Loss 

Explore the diversity of mountain biome habitats and how climate change will affect the plants and animals 

that live there. 

4A–pp. 197-210

4B–pp. 211-218

4C–pp. 219-228

Decoding Ice Cores: Atmospheric Analysis; Nature vs Science; Reflection Activities; Careers in Science; 


ELF–Environmental Literacy with a Focus on Climate Change--resource by ANDRILL–posted with permission Chapter 5 ATMOSPHERE 

5A- Stacking up the Atmosphere 

The goal of the activity is to create a model of the layers of the atmosphere based on their characteristics. 

5B- Full of Hot Air 

The physics of air and water movement around our planet is demonstrated. Hot air/water rises; cold air/water sinks. 

5A–pp. 231-242

5B–pp. 243-252

Greenland is Melting;

Nature vs Science; Reflection Activities; Careers in Science; 



Antarctica’s Climate Secrets–Resource by ANDRILL–shared here with permission Unit 1 Antarctica Today (pp 1-69)

1A-Postcards from Antarctica

1B-Antarctica in Maps

1C-Polar Opposites

Antarctica Today Banner

Antarctica is a remote and mysterious place. It was not discovered until 1820, and people are still learning about it. Compared with Earth’s

other continents, Antarctica is unusual.

The activities in this Unit introduce students to Antarctica, a place that only a few thousand people visit in any year.

Unit 2 Antarctica’s Ice on the Move (pp70-82)

2A-Build a Model Glacier

2B-When Ice Meets the Sea

Antarctica’s Ice on the Move Banner

There’s no doubt about it — Antarctica is an icy place. About 70% of Earth’s fresh water is trapped as solid ice on this large southern continent. The ice there has been accumulating for over 30 million years, piling up one

snowstorm at a time.

In this unit, students are introduced to ice through hands-on explorations.

Unit 3 Reading Antarctica’s Rock Cores (pp. 83-130)

3A-Building a Model ANDRILL Site

3B-Photo Sore: Core Flow

3C-Mix up a Model Rock Core

3D-Mess-free Model Rock Cores

Reading Antarctica’s Rock Cores Banner

Oceans, rivers, swamps, and glaciers all produce different types of sediments.

Sediments are rock grains and other debris that settle in low spots under water or on the ground. Over thousands of years, sediments can turn into rock, and

the rocks preserve clues about the environment that produced them.

Students learn in this unit that some of the clues in sedimentary rocks are easy to read, while others take more practice. Through a series of hands-on activities, students learn how scientists study rocks.

Unit 4 Tiny Clues to Antarctica’s Past (pp, 131-152)

4A-Dead Diatoms Do Tell Tales!

4B-Evidence of Ice-Free Seas

Tiny Clues to Antarctica’s Past Banner

Diatoms are one of the most abundant organisms in the world: these single-celled algae live wherever they have access to both moisture and sunlight.

Individual diatoms are too small to be seen except under powerful microscopes.

However, the number of diatoms in one area of the ocean sometimes gets so large that cameras on Earth-orbiting satellites can see them. Diatoms are one group of a larger set of organisms called phytoplankton.

Diatoms are extremely important for wildlife in Antarctica because they form the base of the food chain. Small shrimp-like animals called krill eat diatoms, and

just about everything else in the Southern Ocean eats krill!

In this unit, students learn how clues from diatoms give us evidence of climate and what the environment was like when they were deposited.

Unit 5 Decoding Antarctica’s Climate History (pp. 153-182)

5A-Charting Temperature Changes

5B-What if the Ice Shelves Melted?

5C-How Does Melting Ice Affect Sea Level?

Decoding Antarctica’s Climate History Banner

In this final unit, students build an interactive graph and decode rock cores to show how temperature has changed over time. They  also make a model to explore how Antarctica might look in the future. Finally, they will compare the potential for

rising sea level in two models they build.