This activity engages learners in examining data pertaining to the disappearing glaciers in Glacier National Park. After calculating percentage change of the number of glaciers from 1850 (150) to 1968 (50) and 2009 (26), students move on to the main glacier-monitoring content of the module--area vs. time data for the Grinnell Glacier, one of 26 glaciers that remain in the park. Using a second-order polynomial (quadratic function) fitted to the data, they extrapolate to estimate when there will be no Grinnell Glacier remaining (illustrating the relevance of the question mark in the title of the module).
Activity takes at least two 45-minute classes. Computer with Excel software required.
About the Science
- Students analyze data pertaining to the disappearing glaciers in Glacier National Park including glacier-monitoring data e.g. area vs. time data for the Grinnell Glacier, one of 26 glaciers that remain in the park.
- Uses data from USGS and NPS.
- Combines pictoral, map, and numerical data analysis.
- Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.
ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION AND TEACHING MATERIALS
Assignment >> Glacier (?) National Park
Technical Details/Ease of Use
- The PowerPoint slides are very busy.
- One broken link. Possible alternative site: http://www.ultimateglacierpark.com/Glacier/geology.html
TEACHING NOTES / CONTEXT FOR USE
- While developed for undergraduate students, this activity would be great in an Algebra I math class in addition to a science class. Many students will need guidance through the graphing part of the activity.
- Link to a geologic time table as well as descriptions of plant biome types for students to look at as they work their way through the first part of the activity.
- Although there is a lot of reading and math in the PowerPoint, the author provides supportive scaffolding throughout that illustrate how to perform the math and graphing functions and what some of the more complicated images represent.
- Pre-requisite skills include some first-year algebra and working with Excel spreadsheets to graph data.
- The teachers guide is only accessible by an e-mail request with verification.
- The slide with the video of glacier retreat included in the PowerPoint is especially compelling.
Assessment is at the discretion of the educator as to how the assignment is used.