This username and password
combination was not found.

Please try again.

Hotchalk Global

view a plan

“The Great Melt Race,” a well-developed 5E Science Teaching Model about melting ice, contains special directions for students with cochlear implants





Title – The Great Melt Race
By – Emily Girard
Primary Subject – Science
Grade Level – First Grade

Purpose of Activity:

  • In this activity, students will observe the factors that cause ice to melt, and will track the size of a melting ice cube as it grows smaller and smaller.
  • Students will also make observations about their melting ice according to its shape: namely, how the ice holds its shape, while the water conforms to the container.

Introductory Teacher Notes:

  • This lesson follows the 5E Teaching Model for science.
  • This lesson includes modifications for students with a cochlear implant (marked with square bullet and italics).
  • This lesson assumes students are familiar with ice as the solid state of water.
  • It also assumes students understand that heat causes melting, while cool temperatures will prevent it.

Procedure Summary:

  • Students will break into groups.
  • Each group will receive a piece of ice and a clear plastic cup.
  • Throughout the day, students will use two colors of permanent marker to mark
    1. the height of the ice from start to finish
    2. the water level from start to finish.
  • The ice that melts the quickest will win the race, so groups will have to decide where in the classroom to put their ice cups (somewhere sunny, shady, under a heating vent, etc.) in order to win.

Inquiry Question: “Where will my ice cube melt the quickest?” Objectives:

  • Students will be able to recognize the factors that cause melting.
  • Students will be able to recognize that solids hold their form.
  • Students will be able to recognize that liquids take the form of their container.

Target Learning Group:

  • Developed for 1st grade

Approximate Time Involved:

  • 7 minutes for the pre-assessment
  • 10 minutes to break students into groups, explain the race, and allow them to explore the classroom and materials then place their cups (steps 3-6)
  • 10 minutes total throughout the day for students to check their ice cubes. *
  • 10 minutes to discuss students concepts about the race and perform the molecule demonstration (steps 8-10)
  • 5 minutes for the closing discussion (step 11)
  • 5 minutes for the post-assessment.

Science Content Background Information for Teacher:

    • Definitions:

Melt (verb): to become liquefied by warmth or heat, as ice, snow, butter, or metal.

Ice (noun): the solid form of water, produced by freezing; frozen water.

Water (noun): a transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid, a compound of hydrogen and oxygen, H 2 O, freezing at 32°F or 0°C and boiling at 212°F or 100°C, that in a more or less impure state constitutes rain, oceans, lakes, rivers, etc.: it contains 11.188 percent hydrogen and 88.812 percent oxygen, by weight.

Measure (verb): The act or process of ascertaining the extent, dimensions or quantity of something: measurement.

  • Concepts:
    • Teachers will need to understand the different factors that could effect students’ melting ice, including all sources of heat in the classroom, especially those which may be unsafe (ex. placing a plastic cup on top of a radiator.)
    • The teacher must also have a sound understanding of melting itself and the different structures of solids and liquids on an atomic level, i.e. that molecules in a liquid move freely past one another and are not structures, while molecules in a solid form a patterned structure which keeps the material bound together.

Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations Involved:

  • P.PM.01.22 Demonstrate that water as a liquid takes on the shape of various containers.
  • P.PM.01.21 Demonstrate that water as a solid keeps its own shape (ice).
  • S.RS.01.12 Recognize that science investigations are done more than one time.
  • S.IP.01.13 Plan and conduct simple investigations.
  • S.IA.01.14 Develop strategies for information gathering (ask an expert, use a book, make observations, conduct simple investigations, and watch a video).


  • Per class:
    • blue food coloring
    • a small checkered flag (for putting in the winning cup each half hour) *
  • Per student:
    • 1 scientific notebook
    • 1 pencil
    • crayons or colored pencils
  • Per group:
    • 1 large clear plastic cup
    • 1 ice cube, dyed blue
    • 1 black permanent marker
    • 1 blue permanent marker

Safety Considerations:

    Students may wish to place their plastic cups on top of a heat source, such as a radiator. The teacher must discern safe vs. unsafe heat sources in the classroom before the start of this activity.

Lesson References: ice.

(n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved November 20, 2009, from website:


(n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved November 20, 2009, from website:


(n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved November 20, 2009, from website:


(n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved November 20, 2009, from website:

Science Activity:


      1. Ask students to take out their scientific notebooks.
      2. Instruct students to draw both ice and water in their notebook and label which is which. Write the words “water” and “ice” on the board to help struggling spellers.
      3. Collect the pre-assessment and use it to edit the lesson prior to its start.
        1. By asking students to draw ice and water, the teacher will be able to see how well students understand the structure of each (i.e. whether the students understand that solids hold their shape while liquids conform to their container)
      4. Pre-assessment should be graded as credit or no credit.


      1. Conduct the pre-assessment.
      2. Break students into groups of 4-5.
      3. Engage students by explaining the Melt Race: each group of students will receive an ice cube and a clear plastic cup. The ice cube that melts the fastest wins, so students must decide where to put their ice cubes to achieve the fastest melt time.
        • Turn on the cochlear implant student’s microphone, if he or she brought it to class, to keep outside noises from being a distraction .
      4. Allow students to explore the ice cubes, cups and classroom. Students may be interested in the size and shape of their ice cube, as well as the thickness of their cup, in deciding on a location.
        • Turn the microphone off to allow the student to collaborate without being distracted by the teacher’s voice.
      5. Ask students to go back to their tables and collaborate with their group to decide where they will put their ice cube cup.
      6. Allow students, group by group, to place their ice cube cups in their decided location.
      7. Send students to check on their ice cubes every half-hour, marking the height of the ice cube with the black permanent marker and the height of the water with the blue marker. Each time the ice cubes are checked, find whichever one is in “first place” and place the checkered flag into the cup. This will help keep students engaged in the activity.*
      8. Ask students what they think will happen to their ice cubes as the day goes on, and how they think their marks on the sides of the cups will progress (“will the ice cube get taller, shorter or stay the same? What about the water, where will it go?”)
      9. Explain to students that while the ice in their cups is a solid and holds its form, it will eventually melt into water and need help keeping itself together.
      10. Elaborate on the differences between water and ice by asking four students to stand up for a demonstration. First ask the students to walk around in and out of each other, demonstrating that water molecules have energy and like to move around. Next, ask students to put their arms out into a T and hold hands to make a square. This will demonstrate how ice molecules are more organized and hold their shape, but are “lazy” and don’t have as much energy as water molecules, so they like to stay still.
        • Choosing the student with the cochlear implant could help him or her feel more like part of the class, especially if the student is in the process of being mainstreamed.
      11. When all of the ice cubes are melted, gather students at carpet to discuss the outcome. Ask students to predict why the winning ice cube melted first to prompt discussion on melting. Also ask students to explain some differences between the water in their cup and the ice cube they began with.
      12. Evaluate students with the post-assessment(below).


    1. Pass out post-assessment to students and ask them to do their best.
    2. Collect the post-assessment and grade it plus, check or minus according to the rubric (below).
    3. Use the post-assessment to rate how well the objectives were met. If more than 25% of students get a (-) on the post-assessment, re-teach the lesson and disregard the failed post-assessment.

The Great Melt Race Post-Assessment Rubric:





“Circle the ice cube that would melt the quickest”

Student circled the ice cube in the sun.



Student did not circle the ice cube in the shade.

“Draw water in this cup”

Student correctly drew water taking the shape of the cup.

Student drew water in the cup, but it did not take the shape of the container (ex. the water is a blob floating in the cup)*

Student did not draw water.

“Draw an ice cube in this cup”

Student correctly drew an ice cube holding its own shape in the cup.

Student drew ice in the cup, but the ice was not a discernable solid shape*

Student did not draw ice.

How are ice and water different?

Student lists at least one correct difference between water and ice (hard vs. soft, temperature differences, movement differences, etc.)

Student’s explanation does not list differences between water and ice (ex. “water and ice are different because they are different.”)

Student did not write anything.

      * Note: ask the student to explain his or her drawing if there is any doubt.
12-7: + 6-3:  2-0:  –

Score: ____ (   ) / 12

E-Mail Emily Girard !

Print Friendly, PDF & Email