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Need A Little Change?

How big were you when you were born? Surely not the size you are now, and next year you will have changed from what you are today. You have had to undergo small changes, learning to hold your head up, sitting, crawling, and eventually walking, to get where you are now. It didn’t happen overnight, but by small gradual changes you have changed. The earth can change in the same way.

All of the small changes (earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides) happening on earth’s surface over time can add up to produce big changes (mountains and valleys). Small movements from earthquakes can push up mountains, or create rift valleys, and because they are so little it takes a long time to notice them. What our earth looks like now to us will look different to people in thousands of years!


The following links can help you make your own models of small changes that can add up to large ones. Follow each link below and have fun!

Faults: Scroll down the page and print the paper model. Then, follow the directions on the paper model assembly instructions. This will illustrate how an earthquake can change the area near the fault it occurs at.

Landslides: Print out the model and see how a landslide can change the area near it!

Now that you have done a couple of paper models showing how the Earth's surface can change, it's time to have some fun with change! Glaciers are frozen ice masses. Over long periods of time, they slowly melt and move. Scientists see the results of this movement but usually do not actually see that movement happening. You can model the effect of a glacier on the Earth's surface by doing the following activity.


  • Large cookie sheet
  • Six cookies (your choice)
  • Candy bar (regular size - not the BIG SIZE!)
  • Chocolate, butterscotch, or caramel topping
  • Two scoops of ice cream
  • Plastic sandwich size bag
  • Spoon
  • Bowl (optional)
Safety concerns: Be sure to keep all chemical safety rules. As with all science lab activities, the most important safety rule is to follow all teacher directions.


  1. Crumble your cookies and place onto the cookie sheet.
  2. Break your candy bar into three or four pieces
  3. Swirl the topping of your choice over the cookies and candy bar.
  4. Place your two ice cream scoops on top of the mixture you created.
  5. Put your hand into the plastic bag and slowly push down on the ice cream.


  1. What happened to the crumbled cookies and candy bar as you pressed on the ice cream?
  2. When a glacier moves, it can move large rocks that are in its way. What part of your model represents the large rocks?
  3. As a glacier moves, it picks up small pebbles that are underneath it. What part of your model represents these small pebbles?
  4. During movement, a glacier rubs the dirt off of the ground. What part of your model represented the dirt?

Now you can use the spoon and eat your glacier!

Review Science safetey rules here.

Get the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader , and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 8th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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