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