Polar Lands and Life Activity: Permafrost Demonstration


The attached Lands and Life flyer, produced by the International Polar Year (IPY) Programme Office, includes a summary of terrestrial polar ecosystems, from southern cold maritime islands to dry continental deserts in Antarctica and from tree line across the continental tundra to remote northern islands in the Arctic. An attached activity allows students to build a small scale model of a landscape dominated by permafrost and to then witness what happens when it thaws.

Resource Details

Author(s): IPY Programme Office


  • Two clear, wide-mouthed plastic jars (approximately 500 mL each)
  • Ice cubes
  • Toothpicks
  • Modeling clay
  • Water


Arctic, Antarctic

Completion time

Less than 1 period

Grade Level

All Ages


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General Earth Science | General Life Science | Life Science | Ecology | Earth Science | Evolution and Diversity | Organisms and Their Environments | Environmental Studies | Water Cycle, Weather, and Climate | Polar Science | General Environmental Studies | General Polar Science | Snow and Ice Science | Climate Change | Geography