Education Materials

In addition to public programs, tours, school visits, and rock boxes, we have included a collection of vetted materials that you might find useful for your classroom or a community group program. The Byrd Center contributed to the development of many of these materials.

Team Building
  • Survival is an activity developed at the Byrd Center in which students learn about equipment used in polar and alpine research, discuss differences between geography and climate in these regions versus their own, and come to better understand traits of effective teams. There is survival packet 1 [pdf] and packet 2 [pdf] for this activity; both are needed and will take a few minutes to download.

General Science Education

Interdisciplinary Information & Materials on the North & South Poles for Teachers

History, Language Arts & Science Literacy

  • Cold Cases – This series of materials was developed by local high school teachers with guidance with the Ohio State Department of History and draws from primary sources at the Ohio State Polar Archives.  Students explore the past through key questions and documents from the archive’s collections that have been digitized.  All materials necessary for the lessons are included online.
  • The Byrd Polar & Climate Research Center Archival Program and Ohio State University Libraries have assembled a Polar Timeline.  There are images and videos from the archival collection linked to the timeline.
  • Race to the Arctic – National Public Radio produced an excellent series on the impact of climate change on sea ice in the Arctic and how this will influence wildlife and society.

Outdoor Education

  • Do you know a girl, between the ages of 15 and 18 years old, who would be interested in an 11-day experience studying a glacier in the Cascade Mountains of Washington or traveling to Alaska?  If so, check out Girls on Ice and encourage her to apply!

Biological Sciences


  • Earth Information from the Nature Conservancy provides spell-binding imagery of the Planet Earth series.  Visit the Nature Conservancy’s site to learn more.  It includes quizzes, videos, and additional information about the breathtaking places and species featured on the Planet Earth series.

Earth Sciences

Glaciers & Permafrost

  • The University of Colorado at Boulder created a suite of interactive media as described above.  One of these is a simulations, Glaciers, that supports students learning glacier dynamics.  Teachers will need to think about how they use this simulation in class; it could be used to support student investigations on a topic that is otherwise hard to explore in warmer climates.
  • The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets has instructional materials available for K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students.
  • A Flubber Activity was designed for grades 2-3 [zip] and grades 3-5 [zip].  This is a hands-on activity that simulates glacial flow for students.  The students use a glacier-modeling compound, “FLUBBER”, (which is made from glue, water, and Borax) to predict and observe the flow of ice.  The students and teacher discuss how scientists determine the rate and direction of flow of glaciers.
  • The University of Alaska Fairbanks Permafrost Outreach Program has images, videos, and lessons focused around permafrost education.

Ice Cores

Earth Sciences (cont.)
  • There have been resources provided under each of the Earth Science topics listed below.  Another site that has a variety of information is Windows to the Universe.

Rock Cycle, Rocks, Minerals, Fossils, and Plate Tectonics

  • Unit Overview & Background Information – BPCRC, in partnership with teachers and visiting school groups, has put together a unit on rocks and the rock cycle [pdf]. The overall unit is provided here with one additional handout [pdf] that accompanies Investigation 2. This unit is designed to be inquiry based and utilize materials available from our Polar Rock Repository Rock Boxes.
  • Simulations – PhET at the University of Colorado at Boulder consistently produces excellent computer simulations that are scientifically valid and provide students with opportunities to investigate difficult to visualize or experience concepts.  Plate Tectonics is no exception.  As with all materials on the site, activities to use with the simulations are created by users and refined over time.

Climate & Weather

  • Best Place Activity [zip] was developed by the Byrd Center's Dr. Carol Landis as a mathematics and science lesson for grades 5-12 (modifications necessary for younger grades).  The purpose of this lesson is to enhance analytical skills and to apply historic data to everyday decisions using local climatological data summaries from the National Weather Service.  This lesson allows students to see temperature and precipitation averages, ranges, and seasonal variability.  At the end of the unit, climate data can be examined in terms of geography.

Climate & Climate Change -There are many resources for climate education, the challenge is looking for materials that are appropriate for the developmental level of your students and the standards that you are trying to address.  Here are a few recommendations:

  • Our outreach staff assembled a handout with Educational Resources on Climate Change & Energy [pdf] for students and teachers.
  • Our director, Dr. Ellen Mosley-Thompson has put together an excellent list of readings [pdf].  These readings cover a number of research areas.
  • The Climate Literacy Network drafted the 7 Essential Principles of Climate Science and has a searchable list of lessons related to climate science.
  • Climate Model Simulation was developed by the Byrd Center as a learning tool to illustrate how climate models are constructed and used.
  • The Byrd Center has assembled a DVD primer on climate change that is available in both English and Spanish. The DVD can be downloaded from our website and burned to disk. The DVD can be used by students directly or help build teacher understanding.
  • The College of Education and Human Ecology at Ohio State has assembled an online magazine titled Beyond Weather & The Water Cycle to support elementary teachers integrating climate science and science literacy.  The Byrd Center contributed to this publication.  The online magazine is based on the Essential Principles of Climate Science developed by NOAA and available online.
  • NASA hosts a site on climate change and environmental issues for young children at Climate Kids.
  • PhET at the University of Colorado at Boulder has a simulation that allows students to explore the greenhouse effect and a second simulation that allows students to explore the advance, retreat, and flow of glaciers. The PhET team consistently produces excellent computer simulations that are scientifically valid and provide students with opportunities to investigate difficult to visualize or experience concepts.
  • The Concord Consortium has created an interactive tool to teach the Earth’s climate system.  This tool has support materials and links macroscopic level observations with microscopic level explanations.  Participle diagrams support rich student understanding.  The Science Teacher has an excellent write-up on this tool and its use.   
  • Google for Educators partnered with Global SchoolNet to compile a list of 50 Ways to Combat Global Warming.
  • The Antarctic Geological Drilling (ANDRILL) Program has lessons and reading materials on environmental literacy, climate change education, drilling processes and technology, and many facets of Antarctica.


  • World Ocean Observatory is dedicated to information, education and public discourse about the ocean defined as an integrated global social system. We believe that informed citizens worldwide can unite to sustain the ocean through mitigation and change of human behavior on land and sea.


Remote Sensing

  • Worldwind, a NASA website based on satellite data, can show many locations on Earth.  In addition to stationary images, it allows the user to cycle through changes that occur over longer periods of time, such as changes in Antarctic sea ice extent, sea surface temperatures, and glacial retreat.

Not seeing what you are looking for? Contact the Byrd Center's Education & Outreach Group.

[pdf] - Some links on this page are to Adobe .pdf files requiring Adobe Reader.  If you need these files in a more accessible format, please contact

[zip] - Some links on this page are to .zip files that need to be extracted to a normal folder.  If you need these files in a more accessible format, please contact