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Human Energy Systems | Activity 1.2

Activity 1.2: Expressing Ideas about Arctic Sea Ice (20 min)

Students complete the Expressing Ideas Tool for arctic sea ice, helping them document, share, and examine their ideas. There are no “right” answers during this phase of the unit.

Materials You Provide

Resources Provided


Prepare a computer with a projector to display the PPT. If you are planning on using the poster to record student ideas, print the poster ahead of class and prepare sticky notes for each student.


1. Have students discuss the pretest.

Ask students to share questions they have after taking the pretest. Explain that we will try to answer most of those during the Human Energy Systems unit.


Use the student responses to the class discussions and also their ideas on the 1.2 Expressing Ideas Tool for Arctic Sea Ice, as well as the 1.2 Assessing the Expressing Ideas Tool for Arctic Sea Ice to assess their thinking at the beginning of the unit. By the end of the unit, students should be able to explain that arctic sea ice melt is a result of increased temperatures, which is a result of increases greenhouse gases, which is a result of human combustion of fossil fuels. For now, listen to students’ ideas, with attention to how they describe cause and effect. Some students may not use a cause and effect model to describe why the ice is melting. Others may suggest that it is due to “pollution,” “global warming,” or humans doing generally “bad” things to the environment without being able to explain the mechanism that causes the ice to melt.


  • If you are teaching this to multiple classes, print multiple copies of the poster, one for each class. Alternatively, have all classes combine their answers and have students look for similarities and differences.
  • Remember that this is the Expressing Ideas section of the unit. The goal is to get as many student ideas on the table as possible so they can compare their ideas with others, and revisit their ideas later to see how they have changed. If students share incomplete or vague answers, ask them to elaborate and share as many details in their thinking as possible. This will make it easier to see how their ideas change over the course of the unit.


Use Slide 6 of the PPT to record student ideas instead of using sticky notes. Or, transcribe the ideas on their sticky notes into the text on the slide so their ideas will be easier to return to later.