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Descent Into the Ice

Viewing Ideas

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Before Watching

  1. Tell students that a glacier is a large mass of ice, air, water, and rock debris. Although glaciers are found on all continents except Australia, they are mostly found at the Poles. Help students locate Mount Blanc on a map and discuss the challenges scientists must overcome to study glaciers.

  2. Divide the class into three teams. Assign each team one of the three following topics to take notes while watching: kinds of equipment scientists use to study the glacier at Mont Blanc, techniques they use, and risks they face.

After Watching

  1. Have a class discussion about how scientists study the glacier at Mont Blanc. Ask volunteers from each team to report on their notes from the program. (Scientists use a combination of cave-diving and coldwater-diving equipment to explore "water wells." They use ice tools like crampons, ice axes, and ice screws. To measure the movement of a glacier, one scientist uses a bicycle wheel mounted on a cantilever. Risks include swimming in near-freezing water, the possibility that part of the glacier could collapse on top of them, and the possibility of a surge of water drowning them.)

  2. Ask students how they would feel living in a village near Mont Blanc. Why do people live in high-risk areas, such as near volcanoes, on the beach, or in an area prone to earthquakes? What steps could be taken in advance to limit the potential losses of a catastrophic event?

Teacher's Guide
Descent Into the Ice
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