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Oceanography, Properties and States of Matter


6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Chemistry, Earth and Space Sciences


300 minutes

Regional Focus



Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Ice Caps: Physical Changes Lesson

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
May 23, 2024
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In this lesson, students engage in activities and experiments, applying their learning to understand climate change-induced sea level rise.

Step 1 - Inquire: Students explore the idea of physical state and changing states through a variety of activities and simulations.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students conduct an experiment to investigate the real-world problem of melting ice caps through the lens of changing states.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students reflect on the impact of sea level rise and how it may affect specific individuals and create a model to represent the changing states of matter in the ocean due to climate change.

Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips


  • Students work collaboratively in groups and with partners to share diverse ideas and perspectives.

  • Students participate in hands-on learning to aid in understanding and participation.

  • Students learn through a variety of pathways including kinesthetic, auditory, visual, etc. to engage with different learning.

  • Students are given a variety of optional extensions to create the most meaningful change in their communities.

    Additional Prerequisites

    • It is recommended that teachers use this as a multi-day lesson in 5 parts. Use the Multi-Day Schedule Visual to determine appropriate stopping points for each day.

    • Materials needed for the Physical Change Activity include the following:

      • Ice

      • Cup

      • Playdough (one container per group)

      • Different shaped cookie cutters (two per group)

    • Materials needed for each group for the Investigate section experiment include the following:

      • Two identical, clear, plastic containers (e.g., 6x6 inches)

      • Clay, playdough, or small rocks

      • Tray of ice cubes

      • Ruler

      • Cold water

      • Piece of paper

      • Permanent marker (optional)

      • Materials may be substituted as necessary

    • Students must create free accounts on the CK-12 website to participate in the simulations.


      • All activities, experiments, and simulations can be completed in differentiated groups or as demonstrations at the discretion of the teacher.

      • The article may be read aloud in groups or as a class to aid in understanding at the discretion of the teacher.

      • Student Document questions may be completed individually, in mixed ability groups, or as a whole group led by the teacher.

      • Videos may be paused and discussed in short segments.

      • As noted in the TED video, the economic influences on climate change cannot be ignored. An extension to this lesson may be to include a social studies educator to teach students about the local economic elements and issues that contribute to climate change.

      Scientist Notes

      The lesson introduces students to the physical changes of state from solid-liquid-gaseous phase. All materials, including artcicles and simulations, are well-sourced and relevant to improve students' ability in understanding the impact of physical changes in ice caps and its ambient environment and how they could take action to limit these changes. This lesson has passed our science credibility process and is recommended for teaching.


      This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

      Supporting Standards

      • Science
        • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
          • MS-ESS3-2. Analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events and inform the development of technologies to mitigate their effects.
          • MS-ESS3-5. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
        • PS3: Energy
          • MS-PS3-4. Plan an investigation to determine the relationships among the energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass, and the change in the average kinetic energy of the particles as measured by the temperature of the sample.
      • English Language Arts
        • Reading: Literature (K-12)
          • RL.CR.6.1 Cite textual evidence and make relevant connections to support analysis of what a literary text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
          • RL.CR.7.1 Cite several pieces of textual evidence and make relevant connections to support analysis of what a literary text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
          • RL.CR.8.1 Cite a range of textual evidence and make clear and relevant connections to strongly support an analysis of multiple aspects of what a literary text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

      Note On Standards:

      This lesson is aligned to SubjectToClimate standards. Review the aligned standards directly in the lesson plan document and teacher slideshow.

      Discover more on SubjectToClimate.
      Related Resources


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      • I used this lesson with 7th and 8th graders to introduce states of matter. The lab activity was simple to run and very effective. The Google Earth exploration and land loss projection sites were highly engaging for students. Thanks for a terrific set of lessons.
        7 months ago