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AIR & 

climate change

Activity 3 (Explore): Why Are Sea Levels Rising?

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Activity Summary

In this activity, students design and run experiments to determine whether sea ice or land ice is having a bigger effect on sea level rise. They then use this information to draw conclusions about which is more responsible for the sunny day flooding from their original phenomenon.

Source: This activity is based on NASA’s What’s Causing Sea-Level Rise? Land Ice vs. Sea Ice.

For additional photos and tips on the experiment, check out their website.

Activity Objectives & Materials

Approximate Time: 1-2 class periods (60-90 minutes)



  • Students will design and conduct experiments to determine the effect of melting land and sea ice on sea level change.


Materials (see activity for details on these materials)

  • Computer & projector

  • Ice, Water, Measuring cups, Containers, Rulers, Clay or other materials to make “land”

  • Scale (optional to weigh ice)

  • Heat lamp (optional)


  • What is Causing the Ocean to Rise?

Standards Connection




1. Frame the Activity


2. Where is the Water Coming From?

3. Land Ice vs. Sea Ice


4. Design the Experiment

5. Variables, Controls, and Data Gathering

6. Write a Hypothesis

7. Build the Setups

8. Run the Experiment

9. Data Analysis

10. Sensemaking Discussion

11. Check In With Questions

12. Conclusions (Formative Assessment)


For more information about On the Air 2020, contact:

Rebecca Davis, Education Manager

For more information about Clean Air Partners, check out our website at:

© 2020 by Clean Air Partners.