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Deep Freeze

Nancy N. Miller
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Grade Level
Time Alloment
 Four 45-minute sessions


The winter brings cold, snow, and ice to the science classroom. This lesson is designed to take advantage of the winter temperatures while studying the environment of both land and water during a seemingly "lifeless" time. By looking at video from NATURE: Under Antarctic Ice at various points in the lesson, students will be introduced to and demonstrate such physical science concepts as freezing point depression, temperature continuum, and sampling processes.

The students will practice various sampling methods for retrieving data under water, ice, and soil. They will use the sample material to make temperature measurements, chart contents, and draw their own conclusions as to what is happening in the environment they are studying. This entire investigative process will be recorded on camera in order to document the student work. The taped work will allow self-assessment of both process and content area skills by the students.

Classroom activities for this lesson include making ice cream, graphing data on a spreadsheet, and analyzing sample material obtained outside. The analysis will include sifting soil samples to determine content (both organic and inorganic), filtering the water samples for sediment, and observing the samples under a microscope or hand lens for identification.

The final presentation of the student project will be a video recording of the entire process and their results. This video will represent the edited material from all portions of the investigation. The students will be able to analyze their work habits and look at the possible effects their procedures may have had on the results shown in their data.

Major corporate support is provided by Canon U.S.A., Inc. and Ford.

Learning Activities

Students will be able to:
  • Explain freezing point depression
  • Graphically show and explain a temperature continuum
  • Identify sources of error in data collection
  • Demonstrate good sample collection techniques


United States Standards for Science for grades 5-12

Science as Inquiry
As a result of activities in grades 5-12, all students should develop:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
  • Understandings about scientific inquiry

Physical Science
As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop an understanding of:
  • Properties and changes of properties in matter

Motions and Forces: Transfer of Energy
As a result of their activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop an understanding of:
  • Structure of atoms
  • Structure and properties of matter
  • Chemical reactions
  • Motions and forces
  • Conservation of energy and increase in disorder
  • Interactions of energy and matter

New Jersey Science Content Standards for grades 5-12

Standard 5.1 (Scientific Processes)
All students will develop problem-solving, decision-making, and inquiry skills, reflected by formulating useable questions and hypotheses, planning experiments, conducting systematic observations, interpreting and analyzing data, drawing conclusions, and communicating results.

Standard 5.3 (Mathematical Applications)
All students will integrate mathematics as a tool for problem solving in science, and as a means of expressing and/or modeling scientific theories.

Standard 5.4 (Nature and Process of Technology)
All students will understand the interrelationships between science and technology and develop a conceptual understanding of the nature and process of technology.

Standard 5.6 (Chemistry)
All students will gain an understanding of the structure and behavior of matter.

New York Science Content Standards for grades 5-12

1. The central purpose of scientific inquiry is to develop explanations of natural phenomena in a continuing, creative process.

  • Formulate questions independently with the aid of references appropriate for guiding the search for explanations of everyday observations.
  • Construct explanations independently for natural phenomena, especially by proposing preliminary visual models of phenomena.
  • Represent, present, and defend their proposed explanations of everyday observations so that they can be understood and assessed by others.
  • Seek to clarify, to assess critically, and to reconcile with their own thinking the ideas presented by others, including peers, teachers, authors, and scientists.

Media Components


NATURE: Under Antarctic Ice

Web sites:

Water in the Earth System
This site provides current and historical data on water in all parts of the Earth system. Students may use it to determine the current state of the watershed in their geographic area. There are also numerous links available from this site to pictures and video information on all parts of the world.
This site is very useful for obtaining maps of areas online. Maps can be downloaded and printed. It also provides directions between given points.
At BrainPop, each subject contains a 2-4 minute animated movie, an interactive quiz, an experiment, a comic strip, a how-to/hands-on application, a timeline and a printable activity page. This site has a lot of information about the states of matter. For this lesson, students will be looking at the movie on the states of matter and how they change.


Adobe Premiere Video editing software

Note: Although this lesson contains a step-by-step guide using Adobe Premiere software, any video editing software will work. ( iMovie, My Movie Maker, etc...)


Per pair of students:

  • 1 Ice Cream Lab & Application Questions Worksheet with lab procedure on it
  • 2 freezer-strength Ziploc Baggies (do not use the ones with a zip-slide closure)
  • 1 pint whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10-12 ice cubes
  • 6-10 paper towels
  • 2-3 tablespoons of kosher salt (or any large crystal salt such as pickling salt)
  • 1 thermometer with a -20íC-100íC range
  • 2 clean plastic spoons
Optional: 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup for making chocolate ice cream