Science Crafts For Kids: Making A Model Paper Iceberg

Make a paper model of an iceberg breaking off a glacier and floating away. This poster could be part of a science fair project.

Icebergs are a fascinating phenomenon of nature. You can make a paper model to illustrate how they form and float. First, though, you need to understand where icebergs come from.

In the polar regions, it snows a lot, but rarely gets warm enough to melt very much of the snow. Over hundreds and even thousands of years, snow has fallen. The weight of the snow pressing down on the snow beneath it has turned it into solid ice that is perhaps miles thick. Because of the pull of gravity on the great weight of the ice, it begins to move down the nearest valley toward the sea in a formation known as a glacier.

When the glacier reaches the sea, the warmer temperature of the seawater causes great chunks of ice to break off and fall from the glacier. The great chunks fall into the ocean with a tremendous splash and begin to float away. These are known as icebergs. They can be a mile across or more, and can be any shape you can imagine. They generally have rough craggy surfaces.

When the iceberg floats, most of it is submerged beneath the surface of the ocean. Only about 10 to 20% of the ice can be seen above the level of the sea. As the ice floats toward warmer climates it begins to melt. Being made of snow, the melted ice is fresh water, not salt water like the ocean. It forms pools from which birds and other creatures can drink.

To make a poster that illustrates an iceberg, you will need a large piece of light blue construction paper or poster board, some white cardstock, and some medium blue tissue paper. You will also need scissors and glue.

The blue construction paper forms the back of the poster and the sky. From the cardstock, cut a craggy formation, which will represent the glacier reaching the sea. Ideally this "coastline" should extend from the bottom of the blue paper to almost the top. Figure out where you will glue the glacier at one end of the poster, but don't glue it down yet. Take another piece of cardstock and cut a craggy iceberg shape from it. Make sure to have a side of the iceberg shaped so that it fits along the glacier like a puzzle piece. When you have both pieces cut to suit you, glue the glacier in place. You may want to look at pictures of icebergs and glaciers to get ideas.

Now cut a piece of blue tissue paper at least two/thirds the height of the paper and 2 inches wider than the paper. This will represent the ocean. Cut one of the long edges into the shape of waves. Lay the ocean piece in front of you and place the poster, front down, on the ocean piece. Fold the extra inch of tissue paper up over the back of the poster on both sides and the bottom. Glue the tissue to the back of the poster. Turn the poster over and you should have a tissue paper pocket. You should be able to see the outline of the glacier through the thin tissue paper.

Now take the iceberg and slip it into the pocket so that it fits against the glacier. Imagine a loud crack as you move the iceberg away from the glacier. Imagine the huge splash it makes as it falls into the ocean. Make the iceberg bob along in the water with only a small part showing above the surface of the water. You should be able to see the rest of the iceberg dimly through the tissue paper. What would happen if the iceberg turned over? Its shape would look totally different. What would happen if a ship got too close to the iceberg?

Maybe you'd like to make a small paper ship to float on the water with your iceberg, or maybe you'd like to draw seals or a polar bear on the iceberg. If your iceberg is one that broke off from Antarctica, it might have some penguins on it.

To further investigate how icebergs float, you can freeze a gallon zipper bag full of water. Let this "iceberg" float around in the pool or bathtub with you on a hot day. How much of the ice is submerged? Did you know that if ice did not float, life on earth would be impossible? Every liquid known contracts and gets denser when it freezes - that is, every liquid except water! If ice did not float, it would sink to the bottom of ponds, rivers, and lakes. The new layer of ice formed would also sink, and eventually the whole body of water would be frozen.

Ice is a fascinating substance to experiment with, whether you use ice cubes or a paper model iceberg. If you are making the paper model iceberg for a science fair project, you might also like to include a report on why ice floats or on the types of animals that live around icebergs. However you choose to use your paper iceberg model, have fun learning!

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