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Ice in the Solar System Activities


Looking for activities you might use in the classroom for the IPY launch?
Check out the ”Ice in the Solar System

Exploring Ice in the Solar System, a NASA-funded educational CD authored by Dr. Richard Shope from JPL and produced by Dr. Julie Edmonds at the Carnegie Academy for Science Education for the Carnegie Institutions of Washington MESSENGER and Astrobiology projects, was rated “outstanding” in a NASA space science education product review.

Twelve conceptual change lessons spring out from the activated curiosity inspired by the central Ice Experience lesson, moving from exploring ice in everyday life, to ice at the Polar Regions, to icy places on Mars, moons of Jupiter and Saturn, Pluto, Mercury, Comets and the Moon. Each standards-aligned lesson consists of substantive background information, inquiry-based activities, teaching tips, resources, photo gallery and strategies for differentiated instruction and evaluation.

Be forewarned: these PDF files are robust, full-blown modules that may require some patience to download and delve into....and then implement in your classrooms.  But these materials are a potential treasure-trove of inquiry-based activities for varying grade levels, all relating to the physical processes and properties of ice and the phase changes of water. 

These resources include:
Inquiry Icebreaker: An Ice Experience
Lesson 1:Melting and Freezing
Lesson 2:Ice Has Structure
Lesson 3:Ice Is a Mineral
Lesson 4:Ice Floats
Lesson 5:Ice Flows
Lesson 6:Snow is Ice
Lesson 7:Layers of Ice
Lesson 8:Life in Icy Places
Lesson 9:Ice in Space
Lesson 10:Comets
Lesson 11:Investigating Icy Worlds
Lesson 12:Ice in the Shadows

Maybe you can’t do them all, but perhaps one fits in with the curriculum you are teaching. Try it out in your classrooms or science centers, and let us know the results.

Add A CommentComments

Art Hammon, Dec 14th, 2007:

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For Len Doel concerning water vapor:
Hi Len, thanks for writing.  I actually collaborated with AUT in Auckland for my doctoral work.
I will try to help with your question.  Page 13 is the list of materials but it has a molecular model of ice if that is the page you mean.
I think what is not explained my be something called “hydrogen bonding”.  It is a special case of electrons holding atoms in a structure.  All molecular bonds are a delicate balance between the desire of two nucleii (like O and H in water) to repel, the electrons of O and H to repel, BUT the attraction of electrons of H for the nucleus of O and the attraction of the electrons of O for the nucleus of H.  Add them all up and luckily, there is a net attraction over repulsion and the water molecule is “chemically glued” together. 
But that does not explain why ice forms and is so strong.  Each water molecule has a bond angle of 105 degrees between the H-O-H.  Think interior angle of a hexagon.  AND, even though the Hydrogens are busy bonding to their oxygen, because they are so small and the proton in their nucleus is so powerful, they actually have some left over attraction for other atoms in other nearby molecules.  Not as strong as the H-O bond but strong enough to make water drops and ice crystals.  It is a special case of Van Der Waals forces… temporary but strong attractions of atoms to make crystals...dry ice (Carbon Dioxide, frozen) is another example.
I used to teach middle school too.  I modeled this with students as molecules.  If their body is oxygen and and their arms are hydrogen, then have them stretch their arms in front of themselves to make a “V"with hands as Hydrogen.  Strong water molecules.  But if each student has a strip of cardboard in one hand that another student/molecule could hold on to temporary, that would be a hydrogen bond (kind of… not a perfect model but makes the point).  The cardboard is not as strong as arms… hydrogen bond is not as strong as covalent water molecule bond… but is it pretty strong.  MIllions of these connections make an ice crystal in snowflake, six-sided designs.
Hope this helps. 
Best wishes
Art Hammon
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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