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Episode 2202 Lesson Plans: The Great Lakes on Thin Ice

Episode 2202 Lesson Plans: The Great Lakes on Thin Ice
February 22, 2022 Mila Murray

This lesson will explore the phenomenon of ice cover as students learn about ways that winter is “shrinking” in the Great Lakes. They will engage with the science of phase changes as it relates to temperature.

Lesson Objectives

  • Know about the impact that ice coverage ice has on the Great Lakes
  • Understand how temperature relates to the freezing and melting of water
  • Be able to engineer a thermos to minimize temperature changes to a hot beverage when exposed to cold temperatures

View the entire lesson plan including teacher background information, worksheets and more below or download for free here.

Activity 1

This activity is a video discussion of a Great Lakes Now episode segment that discusses the impact that warmer and shorter winters are having on ice in the Great Lakes. During the video students need to jot down four things they took away from it.

Watch a Great Lakes Now Segment

Activity 2

This activity aims to provide students further understanding of the impact that diminishing ice coverage has on the Great Lakes by reading about ice coverage in the Great Lakes and the shrinking ice in one Minnesota Lake.

Read About Ice Coverage 

Activity 3

During winter months in the Great Lakes, ice fishermen and other winter sport enthusiasts want to enjoy a hot beverage but don’t want their beverage to cool down before they can drink it.

The purpose of this experiment is for students to build a container (thermos) that can hold a16oz Styrofoam cup containing 250mL of hot water and maintain the temperature of the water as high as possible for 30 minutes.

Engineer a Thermos

Activity 4

The purpose of this activity is for students to measure the temperature of a sample of water through phase changes and to graph the temperature over time in order to understand what happens to the temperature of water when it melts.

The Temperature of Melting Ice

Activity 5

The purpose of this activity is for students to learn how salt affects the freezing point of water, helping to melt ice in the winter.

Using Salt to Melt Ice

Activity 6

The purpose of this activity is for students to apply the science of freezing point depression to generate an ice water system that’s cold enough to freeze dairy and make ice cream.

Making Ice Cream in a Bag Using Science


Check out Great Lakes Now’s segment on the science of shrinking ice coverage and the other segments featured in Episode 2202: Shrinking Winter on this month’s landing page.

Find all the Great Lakes Now educational materials HERE.

If you use this lesson or any of its activities with your learners, we’d love to hear about it! Contact us with any feedback or questions at: GreatLakesNow@DPTV.org

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