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  • The film Thin Ice – The Inside Story of Climate Science provides a look at our planet’s changing climate, with a range of Science Learning Hub resources designed to support its use in the classroom.

    About Thin Ice

    Geologist Simon Lamb, alarmed by increasing scepticism of climate scientists and their work, takes a close look at what’s really happening with global warming. Dr Lamb and his team filmed scientists at work in the Arctic, the Antarctic and around the world. The work is used to provide information and explanations about climate change and its implications, including the science behind climate change, the role of CO2 and ways to reduce CO2 production.

    Thin Ice has a strong New Zealand connection – Dr Lamb and other featured scientists are based at New Zealand universities.

    Why use climate change and Thin Ice in your classroom?

    Climate change is a rich and relevant context that is impacting 21st century youth. It is a global issue with a range of views, providing opportunities for developing students’ social inquiry and future-focused thinking skills.

    It also offers opportunities for examining evidence and critical thinking – key aims of the New Zealand Curriculum’s nature of science (NOS) strand.

    Importantly, the film provides opportunities to generate hope and action competence rather than apathy or despair.

    The challenge for New Zealand schools is how do we guide students to take action in tackling climate change?

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    The causes and impacts of climate change

    This word picture uses word association to describe the causes and impacts of climate change.

    Teacher’s guide

    In association with the film, teachers from Wellington’s Onslow College developed a teacher’s guide. This resource provides several teaching units and explores the potential cross-curricular links between the science and the social sciences curricula. It is intended to stimulate student discussion and exploration and uses starter questions to assist teachers in developing their own authentic learning programmes. It also offers suggestions for NCEA assessment opportunities at a senior level.

    Climate change - a wicked problem contains suggestions for using an inquiry approach to scaffold students’ learning pathways. Climate change literacy links lists selected articles from the Connected and School Journal reading series.

    Science Learning Hub resources

    The Science Learning Hub features a series of articles and activities developed to accompany the Thin Ice film.

    Climate change, science and controversy explores some famous cases in history in which science thinking clashed with wider societal thinking. Examples include Darwin’s theory of evolution and the tobacco industry’s creation of doubt regarding the health risks associated with smoking.

    Climate action looks at how we are working for change at global, national and personal/public levels.

    Adventure and innovation on the ice profiles two of the scientists featured in Thin Ice. It’s real nature of science material - the thrill of discovery combined with the opportunity to respond to societal needs.

    Carbon dioxide and climate and Clues to the past both explore how evidence from long ago provides a picture of how Earth’s climate is changing - and how the data clearly shows that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are causing the climate to change. Climate models explains how scientists use observational data from the past to check the accuracy of complex global climate models.

    Disappearing glaciers charts glacial ice loss across the globe. The implications of their melting are explained in Climate change, melting ice and sea level rise and are visually demonstrated in the activities Melting glacial ice, Investigating sea level rise and Temperature, salinity and water density.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Modelling the link between ice melt and sea level rise

    Melting land ice and melting sea ice have differing effects on sea level rise.

    We also have a range of other resources related to climate change, that support research presented in the Thin Ice film.

    Climate change and the New Zealand Curriculum

    The vision statement in the New Zealand Curriculum focuses on developing young people who are:

    • connected to the land and environment
    • members of communities and international citizens
    • actively involved participants in a range of life contexts
    • contributors to the [environmental] wellbeing of New Zealand
    • informed decision makers.

    The New Zealand Curriculum’s values statement encourages students to value:

    • ecological sustainability and care for the environment
    • community and participation for the common good
    • equity through fairness and social justice
    • innovation, inquiry and curiosity.

    Activity ideas

    Explore with students how to investigate exhaust emissions, car use and air quality.

    In this activity, students answer a short multichoice questionnaire to identify and address common alternative conceptions about fossil fuels.

    Students use a plastic soda bottle to make and test the temperature of a bottle ‘greenhouse’ and demonstrate how light energy is transformed into heat energy.

    Students look at what happens when hot and cold water meet.

    We also have further resources to support literacy learning within this context.

    The level 4 Connected article Global action examines what global warming is and how computer modelling works and identifies how science may help New Zealand reduce its agricultural emissions.

    Useful links

    The New Zealand Science Teacher magazine article Examining a changing world: teaching climate science provides additional ideas for teaching within the context of climate change.

    Visit NIWA's Climate change page for links to videos, scientist profiles, solutions and other resources regarding climate change and climate action. The Sea levels and sea-level rise section has lots of information including: how sea levels are measured, what is contributing to rising sea levels, future rise projections and why we should worry.

    The Ministry of Education's Climate Change Learning Programme is a level 4 programme focused on climate change that includes specific student activities; the wellbeing guide focuses on student wellbeing and hauora when navigating climate change as an area of learning and action. Many of the suggestions are relevant to other learning levels.

    The NZ SeaRise: Te Tai Pari O Aotearoa programme has released location specific sea level rise projections out to the year 2300 for every 2 km of the coast of Aotearoa New Zealand. This very informative site includes maps (you can find the possible impact on your local area) and there are resources such as posters and videos.

    Aotearoa Climate Education Coalition is working to advance and support education prioritising the long-term wellbeing of people and the planet.

    In 2024 the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand released a special issue New Zealand and Antarctica in a changing climate with guest editors James Renwick CRSNZ, Rebecca Priestley CRSNZ, Bruce Glavovic and Darren King.


    Thin Ice – The Inside Story of Climate Science, a David Sington/Simon Lamb film, looks at what’s really happening with global warming by filming scientists at work in the Arctic, the Antarctic and around the world. It gives a 56-minute view of the range of human activity and scientific work being undertaken to understand the world’s changing climate. The result is a unique exploration of the science behind global warming and an intimate portrait of a global community of researchers racing to understand our planet’s changing climate.

    The Science Learning Hub has produced a series of articles using short video resources produced by the Thin Ice team. The film itself is available by emailing It is recommended viewing to give students context for the Hub’s articles and the videos they contain. The link for streaming is available free of charge. The DVD is also available to New Zealand schools for $20 to cover costs.

    Learn more at

      Published 12 April 2017, Updated 28 August 2023 Referencing Hub articles
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