During this lesson, students will learn basic glacial features and how to interpret Topographic maps and satellite images in order to create a model replica of a glacier valley. The Dry Valleys of Antarctica have classic glacial features, both in the barren valleys and in the remaining glaciers in the area. The glaciers are a major contributor to lake levels in the local lakes as well as to the biological makeup within the lakes. As such, it is helpful for students to understand glacial features. Creating models and interpreting maps are practical skills that dovetail nicely with this project. Glaciology, model making, and map interpretation combine to make this an effective, and fun (although potentially messy!), lesson.
I begin this lesson with a brief introduction to basic glacial features using a power point presentation. Students write down information and definitions about various glacial features (moraines, moulins, U-shaped valleys, eskers, etc.) as we review images of glaciers that depict each feature. We also look at pictures of our local area that show evidence of prior glacial acitivty (such as U-shaped valleys, eskers, erratics, glacial scouring, etc.).
Time Frame: (about 7 class periods for it's entirety – can be more or less depending on groups and how much of the plan is used – parts can be done without others!) * one 45 minute class period for basic glacial introduction – ppt * one 45 minute class period for practice/intro reading Topo maps * three 45 minute class periods for Constructing Taylor valley Models * one 45 minute class period for downloading camp/mountain pictures and making signs/labels for the model * one 45 minute class period for downloading pictures and posting to blog pages.
I have also had groups make one giant glacier instead of the Taylor Valley. Each group makes a large mountain with various pitches, ledges, valleys, etc. A bucket full of plaster is poured onto each of these mountains. The moraine lines show up really well. I have then had students put sand/gravel along the moraine lines. We have even put straws onto the mountain before the plaster is poured which can then simulate moulins once the project is complete.
Thermodynamics of chemical reactions can also be studied. Students can place temperature probes into the plaster as it is poured – this will record the cooling, heating, and eventual cooling of the plaster as the chemical reactions take place.
A unit on Climate Change is also relevant here – discussing the movements of glaciers based on climate and the resulting impact on environmental features and ecosystems.
Scaled Model of Taylor Valley:
Requirements: Points Possible: Points Received:
3 Mtn peaks on each side of valley (name and elevation) 20
Glaciers and Labels: Taylor, Commonwealth, Suess, and Lacroix. Plaster pour for each glacier – proper distributions 30
McMurdo Sound, Lake Fryxel, Lake Hoare, Lake Chad, Lake Bonney, and Mummy Pond – each labeled appropriately 12
Camp Site Pictures and Labeles: Hoare, Fryxel, Bonney 9
Repeater Station labeled (Mt. Coates) 4
Correct scale distribution (1 cm = 100m vertical) 20
Blog Requirements: Points Possible Points Received:
Picture of Finished project 10
2 Close up pictures of any model section 20
3 Pictures of the building process 30
2 Pictures of the plaster pouring 20
Minimum of One paragraph about the process 20
Dr. Doran's Home Page: http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/home.htm
McMurdo Dry Valley Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Site: http://www.mcmlter.org/
Robin Ellwood's PolarTREC Journa: http://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/lake-ecosystems-in-antarctica
Topo Map: (this map is interactive and can be modified to desired scales)
http://www.mcmlter.org/mapping.htm (click on "Launch Online Map Now")
You will be able to create the map you desire by clicking on the "+" boxes and checking off the features you wish to have. I have included an example of the map I use in class here:
Photo Credit: www.mcmlter.org - online mapping for the McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER (©2006 McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER)
Another helpful map site: http://geology.com/world/antarctica-satellite-image.shtml
This lesson was created and submitted by Robin Ellwood. My contact information is: rellwood [at] sau50.org