Summer of Science: Melting Polar Ice Caps

Being aware of your potential to impact the world  is an important lesson to learn and one that continues well into adulthood.  In this week’s Summer of Science experiments we’re broadening our ecological awareness and exploring how pollution impacts weather in the form of melting polar ice caps and acid rain. 

I think it’s important, and necessary, for children to understand and realize that the same things we’re studying in our experiments are happening in the world RIGHT NOW and eventually the end result of the experiment is going to be the end result for Earth if we don’t start changing our ways. And now, on to the experiment!

There’s no denying it, global warming is a major contributor to a number of ecological problems whose effects are far reaching.  Melting ice caps effect water levels, weather patterns, the ocean’s salt levels, below sea level islands, and the animals and people who make the coast their home.  In this experiment we’re going to melt our own ice caps and see what happens.

Summer of Science


  • two glasses
  • 2 cups of water
  • food coloring
  • handful of ice


Fill each glass with one cup of water and 10 drops of food coloring.

adding the food coloring

Now fill ONE glass with the handful of ice. 

adding the ice

To speed things up we sat both the glasses outside and waited for the ice to melt.

melting the ice caps

The water level difference between the two glasses should be obvious while the coloring is a little harder to see.

effects of melting ice caps

Explanation: To explain this experiment I just asked my kids a series of questions.  They got the point.

Imagine this glass of water is all the world’s oceans, what would’ve happened to low lying islands?  coastlines?  What about the polar bears and other animals who depend on the ice? What’s happened to the salt in the water?  Do the fish need the salt in the water to breathe?  Remember the water cycle?  If there’s more water on the Earth is that going to effect the weather?

Additional Reading: I recommend visiting the Natural Resources Defense Council to learn more about defending our Earth.

Hope you’ve been enjoying our Summer of Science Series!  If you’d like to learn more please Subscribe and take a moment to visit my Linky Party Page for some of the great places I share experiments like these!


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