Observations and results
What happened to the water level in the bowl? How did that affect water levels on the continent that didn't have any ice on it?
Why did the ice melt faster when it fell into the water? Denser materials, such as liquids or solids, carry energy better, so heat is transferred to the ice more quickly through liquid than it is through air, which warms up the ice and allows it to melt faster.
These big ice sheets have frozen and melted many times in the past (producing ice ages with low sea levels and warm periods with high sea levels). But scientists have found that the ice in Antarctica is melting even faster than they thought it would. This is happening because humans have been producing carbon dioxide (for example, by running cars on gasoline) faster than plants can absorb it, which makes the Earth warmer—and much faster than has happened naturally in the past.
Reducing the amount of fossil fuels (such as gasoline for cars and coal burned for electricity) that we use can help slow how quickly the ice is melting (by slowing the rise in average temperatures). What are some ways you can help?
Share your sea level rise observations and results! Leave a comment below or share your photos and feedback on Scientific American's Facebook page.
Carefully remove the toothpicks. Remove the clay pieces from the bowl and pour the water out.
More to explore
"Polar Ice Sheets Melting Faster than Predicted" from Scientific American
"Casualties of Climate Change: Sea-level Rises Could Displace Tens of Millions" from Scientific American
"Climate Change Kids Site" from the Environmental Protection Agency
"Climate Kids" from NASA
A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids: Understanding Climate Change and What You Can Do about It by Julie Hall and Sarah Lane, ages 4–8
A Kids' Guide to Climate Change & Global Warming: How to Take Action! by Cathryn Berger Kaye, ages 12 and up
Recycle! Make Old Paper New
What you'll need
• Metal coat hanger
• Nylon pantyhose
• Large mixing bowl
• Paper towels
• Warm water