Episodes - Lessons
The Driftless Area

How would you decode this earth science mystery?

Geo-scientists ran into a glacial mystery when their mapping of glacial material called "drift" revealed an area in western Wisconsin that didn’t have any glacial drift material. They named the place the driftless area. But what really made this driftless area such a mystery was that the entire area of 15,000 square miles was surrounded by drift. This meant that glaciers went entirely around the driftless area but didn’t cover it. Are you kidding? How was that possible?

To find out some of this mystery, watch this video. To really "get with the drift" of what happened here over the past 2.5 million years, take this learning adventure into your classroom, have your teacher download the free Lesson Activity at the bottom of this page so everyone can share in the fun of this inquiry based learning.

Okay, here's the deal. When glaciers advanced across Wisconsin, they reshaped much of the landscape. The thick ice carried boulders, sand, and gravel as it advanced. And when it finally melted and retreated, it left behind all that material. Scientists called it “glacial drift.” This glacial drift of sand, gravel, rocks and boulders covers the ground where the glaciers once were. Earth scientists map areas where this drift is present to recreate the history of glacial activity.

To get the rest of the this story, click "Learn More" below here. Or, if you have the time, also watch the amazing half-hour Emmy-winning documentary from our educational buddies at Untamed Science on "Mysteries of The Driftless". Just click on the movie in the upper right window. We bet you a bag of popcorn that you don't "drift off" while watching it!

These educational partners supported the video and lesson content here for all of us to learn from. They also offer lots of other learning opportunities on their websites. So check them out!

Resource Partner(s)