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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide

Curriculum Resources for the Alaskan Environment

Subject Areas: science

Timeline: spring semester

Grade Levels: 7-12

Purpose: to investigate ways to increase snow melting at high latitude


N. Davis
Investigation of Snow


Square bullet Activities

  • Setup:

    find a location of relatively uniform snow cover, which will receive a uniform amount of sunlight each day

    using willow wands or other small-diameter posts, mark out one-meter squares in the plot (leave walk spaces in between)

    leave one plot without any cover

    on several other plots put different amounts of some available dark materials such as dirt, ashes, or coal dust; barely dust one plot; put different amounts, evenly spread, on the others; weigh the material or measure its volume so that later you know how much you put on each plot

    you might choose to use several materials, some darker than others; don't make it too complicated.

  • Measurements:

    each day at the same time (within an hour), measure the snow depth in each plot with a marked wand probed down to the ground; record the measurements m centimeters; you might want to average several probes in each plot (this requires a little math-adding and dividing)

    record the temperature

    record the sky condition (sunny or cloudy)

    report any snow or rainfall that may occur (available from Federal Aviation Administration or the Weather Bureau)

    record average wind, either crudely, or get average daily wind reports from the airport

    continue these measurements until all the snow is gone from all plots

    record any unexpected events you think might affect the results, such as dogs or moose walking through the plots

    it is a good idea to graph the various results as you go along each day, to keep interest up.

  • Write up a report:

    analyze the effect of wind, temperature, cloud cover, etc., on the rate of melting

    include class or individual opinions on the report

    send a copy of the whole report to the Geophysical Institute.


  • Snow Ecology Guide, Ted Major and Home Ecological Institute, 4860 Riverbend Road, Boulder, CO 80301 or Center for Cross-Cultural Studies, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Weller, Gunter (Ed.). Alaska Weather and Clirnate. University of Alaska Fairbanks, Geophysical Institute


Village Map and Directory

Land Selection

Local Weather Station

Star Mapping

6" Newtonian Reflecting Telescope Construction

Planetarium Construction

Investigation of Snow Melting

Insulation Experiments: Cardboard Boxes/Snow-Fenced Houses

Durable, Energy-Efficient Homes

Practical Application of Alternative Energy System

Solar Energy Uses

Construction of School/Community Facilities

Bush Shop or How to Learn Carpentry Without Wood

Basic Home Maintenance

Snowmachine Maintenance

Glider Construction (Aviation Shop)

Subsistence Tool Construction

Operating a Trapline, Subsistence Trapline, or Subsistence Net

Survival Skills

Heritage Campout

Netting Fish Efficiently

Natural History

Study of a Food Resource

Effects of Diet on Mice or Rats

Medicinal Plants

Farming the Sea

Summer Marine Science Program

Vegetable Gardening

Greenhouse Construction and Gardening

Chicken Farming

Water Usage Study

Garbage Disposal

Village Dogs

Fire Safety



Go to University of AlaskaThe University of Alaska Fairbanks is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution and is a part of the University of Alaska system.


Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
Questions or comments?
Last modified August 17, 2006