EYFS units: The Glaciologist
Resources and activities themed around a STEM job, to build language and understanding of the world of work.
A glaciologist is a scientist who studies glaciers. Glaciers are huge sheets of ice found on mountains or near the poles which move slowly towards the sea. Glaciologists are:
Curious because they want to know more about how the ice in glaciers moves.
Observant as they watch the ice carefully to see how it is moving and changing.
Resilient because they need to be able work in cold and windy conditions. They need to be quick to recover and get back out in the cold again each day.
Our EYFS units provide enabling environments with teaching and support from adults. Reflecting on the characteristics of effective teaching and learning, children will have opportunity to learn and develop by:
• playing and exploring – children investigate and experience things, and ‘have a go’
• active learning – children concentrate and keep on trying if they encounter difficulties, and enjoy achievements
• creating and thinking critically – children have and develop their own ideas, make links between ideas, and develop strategies for doing things
Taken from Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.
© Crown copyright 2023 licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0.
We have designed these STEM focused questions to use alongside the questioning you would usually use when reading a story. For this unit we have a book to use in the winter and a book to use in the spring.
Download questions for The Not-So-Perfect Penguin here.
Download questions for Little Bear’s Spring here.
These adult led activities and provocations will support the introduction of the glaciologist career to the children in your setting.
We have included these links to our related STEM at home activities. These could be sent out for families to try at home, or run in school at a family session.
You can download our geologist poster to use in your setting.
Glaciologists are scientists who study glaciers and other natural phenomena involving ice, such as how it forms, travels and transports materials.
Glaciers form in places where more snow falls than melts. Soon after snow falls, it becomes more tightly packed, turning into ice pellets. These ice pellets get covered by even more snow and become more compressed. This results in a grainy ice forming. Every year as snow falls, layers of this granular ice fall on top of each other. When the pile grows to about 50m thick, the granular ice fuses together into a huge lump of ice. You can see the layers of ice in this photograph of a section of the glacier.
The ice then begins to move under its own weight. The ice is so heavy and causes so much pressure that the underneath begins to melt without any change in temperature. Think about squeezing an ice cube tightly in your hand- it melts faster from the pressure of the squeeze than from the heat of your hand alone.
The melt water makes the bottom of the glacier slicker and more able to move. The ice sheet spreads out from its centre and gravity pulls it downwards. Most glaciers only move a few centimetres a day. If they reach the sea, parts of the glacier can calve (break) off, creating icebergs floating in the sea.
Glaciologists study how moving glaciers erode the ground around them by lifting up and depositing soil, rock and clay. They can pick up boulders as big as houses and carve out valleys. Glaciologists also study of how climate change affects the movement and changes in glaciers and how the changes in glacier influence the climate and surrounding environment.