Question: How Do Glaciers Affect the Earth’s Surface?
Summary: Glaciers are large masses of ice that move over the surface of the earth in many areas. This experiment is designed to demonstrate the effect of these rivers of ice on the earth beneath them.
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1 lb. Cornstarch
Paper and Pen for Taking Notes
- Put 350 mL of water in the beaker. Add a 1 lb. box of cornstarch and use the spoon to mix to the point where there is very little water standing on the surface of the cornstarch mixture.
- Place a golf-ball-sized amount of the cornstarch mixture in the center of an 8” square of waxed paper.
- Observe and note on your paper how the material behaves. Does it flow? This is similar to the way that ice deep in a glacier flows. Draw a diagram of what this glacier model looks like.
- On top of your glacier model, place another spoonful of the cornstarch mixture. This represents “new snow” that would fall on the glacier during the winter months. What can you observe about any changes in the glacier, and its perimeter?
- Sprinkle several tablespoons (approximately) of sand, gravel and soil in a band beginning about 1-1/2” away from the outside edge of your glacier model. Use the permanent marker to mark the inside and outside perimeter of the sand/gravel/soil band on the waxed paper.
- Now sprinkle some more soil on top of the glacier model. This represents loose rocks and soil from the Earth’s surface.
- Continue by placing successive spoonful’s of the cornstarch mixture on top of the glacier model in center. After each spoonful, mark the new perimeter to see how far your ice cap moved. Observe what happens when the glacier reaches the band of sand, gravel and soil. Stop when you have added enough cornstarch mixture to move your glacier within 2 inches of the edge of the waxed paper.
- Draw a diagram of your glacier. Compare the thickness of the glacier in the center and at the outer edges.
- Place a second piece of waxed paper on top of the glacier and carefully turn it over so you can see the reverse side. Measure and record each of the perimeters you marked previously. Observe and draw a diagram of the bottom of the glacier, taking particular notice of the position now of the sand/gravel/soil.