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Paleontological Research Institution


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Physics, Mathematics

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Thermal Expansion & Sea Level Rise

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  • This video by the Paleontological Research Institution describes thermal expansion, how it can be measured experimentally, and how the equation can be used to answer important questions. 
  • It details how thermal expansion causes a significant amount of sea level rise with increasing temperatures. 
Teaching Tips


  • This is a great video of a thermal expansion experiment and the speaker walks students through the equation at a good pace.
  • The graphs about sea level rise are impactful.

Additional Prerequisites

  • You may want to teach your students how to navigate between metric and imperial units.
  • If you decide to replicate this experiment in your lab you will need the appropriate materials ready beforehand.


Scientist Notes
This resource uses a simple experiment to demonstrate the principle of thermal expansion and apply it to the larger issue of sea level rise. This resource is recommended for teaching.

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

  • Mathematics
    • Functions: Linear, Quadratic, & Exponential Models (9-12)
      • HSF.LE.B.5 Interpret the parameters in a linear or exponential function in terms of a context.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-5. Plan and conduct an investigation of the properties of water and its effects on Earth materials and surface processes.
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