Forums / Earth and Space Science / BestOceanographyLabActivities

Earth and Space Science


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LeRoy Attles LeRoy Attles 56550 Points

I am in need of some great Oceanography Lab Activities. My students are expected to know the subsurface topography of the ocean as well as the characteristics of ocean water such as temperature and salinity. They also are required to know what causes tides and ocean currents. I was not looking for a lab that incorporated all of these topics but lab activities that really help students understand these concepts better. My biggest challenge seems to be the tidal lab activity. Please help.

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92316 Points

Hi LeRoy, I had some time this evening to put together a collection of mostly free resources that are offered through the NSTA Learning Center. I have attached it. Perhaps you will be able to find some things within the collection to help you. Let us know if you decide to try any of the ideas out. The NSTA has some collections about oceans that are created by grade level that you might want to check out as well. Carolyn

Oceanography Resources Collection (15 items)
Nikki Turner Nikki Turner 20105 Points

Thanks Attles for asking and thanks Mohr for obliging. I have really enjoyed obtaining these wonderful resources. My ideas are not as elaborate as some of yours but if I run across something good I will definitely share. Thanks guys!

LeRoy Attles LeRoy Attles 56550 Points

Thanks Carolyn for putting these resources together for me. We are about to start our Oceanography unit next week so the activities you sent are right on time!!! I will keep you posted through this forum on what we use and how it goes. Thanks again.

LeRoy Attles LeRoy Attles 56550 Points

Attached is a video explaining the Oceans role in climate Change It includes a demo explaining the Heat Capacity of Air and Water

LeRoy Attles LeRoy Attles 56550 Points

Hello ALL I cam across a great Ocean Current Lab activity about Nike Shoes

Susan Phillips Susan Phillips 2430 Points

If you teach ocean science, you have to check out this website from UCLA with a lot of great investigations... I love the Nike Shoe Investigation

Lisa Coughlin Lisa Coughlin 1070 Points

I have done the Nike Shoe lab before and the students really seem to enjoy it. Another really good site is: Students use real time data from buoys, ships, and satellites to track the location of the gulf stream current. It is great activity that allows students to look at real time data to discover the location of the gulf stream current.

Chester Orban Chester Orban 2310 Points

S O M E T I M E S .....OLD Labs are Better! Hi, I have a very special lab originally created by Caleb Wroe Wolf (1908-1980) from a 1959 Earch Sceince Lab Activity workbook. [I know, it's O L D, but so am I]. The Lab activity is on Ocean Surface Currents. It consists of two pages of questions. The questions are related to two maps. One MAP shows the earth's surface Ocean Currents (and Iceberg limit), the other shows the earth's wind currents (all black and white). The studetns answer a series of questions about each map (how the land structires affect ocean flow etc, as well as a series of questions about how the information of one map affects the other, i.e. Wind currents vs. Ocean Currents. I also have the studetns use the modern maps (they are not as accurate) in thier books, and I have them color the ocean currents, blue for cold, red for warm, pencil for transition, and, I have them compare the old map names to th modern. (Good sicence History). I use this as a major Lab activity which evolves into four things: 1) Understanding of Ferrel's Law 2) The Coriolis Force 3)Earth's Heat distribution, which lager leads to my (The Great Global Warming Debate) and my best work: 'The Misconceptions of the Coriolis Force (effect)'. Might you be interested in this? Best regards Chet

Angie Fairweather Angelika Fairweather 12180 Points

Oceanography is my favorite subject to teach. Chester I agree the tried-and-true lessons are true gems. I like the idea of a mirror map for win currents and ocean currents. This would also be a great way to bring in El Nino and La Nina. Thank you for sharing! Angie

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

In addition to these forums, NSTA connects teachers through several topical listserves. I have been collecting lists of websites mentioned by teachers that are relevant to this post. Please find an annotated website list attached. Should you have others, please share them with us.


Sharon Chern Sharon Chern 2640 Points

Does anyone know of a good computer simulation/demo (preferably interactive) of the phases of the moon & position of the sun TOGETHER with the rise and fall of tides around the earth? I got some great suggestions from another discussion forum on the positions of the moon and sun, but none showing the moon and the sun, WITH simplified (assumed uniform ocean, no land, etc) tidal changes on earth. Right now I have them do a dance (yep, in high school) with bodies for sun/moon, high vs low tide, etc. Seems to work, but I would really love a more interactive approach :)

Nichole Montague Nichole Montague 4675 Points

One activity to allow students to investigate how temperature and salinity affect ocean water (and create currents) is to have students test different balloons filled with different types and temperatures of water to see how the different densities affect them. I fill balloons with hot water, hot salt water, cold water, cold salt water, room temp water and room temp salt water. I have them experiment with the balloons to try and figure out what is in each balloon and why it is floating, sinking, or perhaps starting to rise after it has sat in the room temperature container for a while. Then we learn more about ocean currents and what drives them. I have also set up a "tank" that has cups with holes in them attached in a tub of room temperature water. Inside the cups I have water of different temperatures and salinities and I poke holes in the cups and watch the small currents that form.

Sharon Chern Sharon Chern 2640 Points

Hi Tina, Thanks for the tide animation websites! If someone could just extend the animations to orbit around the sun they'd be PERFECT :) Yes this topic is really difficult to teach. Students bring many misconceptions about tides, plus things become even more complicated when you add in all of the other factors that affect tidal patterns. The dance that I do basically mimics the animations that you find. One student in the center, "earth", rotating once a day (fast), 4 students hold hands facing inward (they form a circle, representing the tidal bulges) around the center student. One student outside of the circle, "moon", slowly walk around the circle once a month (really slowly because the center student has to rotate 30 times), facing the earth all the time. The person in the circle(and the person across from her) closest to the "moon" steps back while the other 2 people holding their hands step in. So the 4 people in the circle has to constantly step forward or backwards depending on where the moon is. Then, the whole group slowly wobbles around the center of the classroom (some bright yellow object to represent the sun) once a year. Very simplistic, but the students get the idea.

Kim Geier Kim Geier 10 Points

Here is an interactive website with the gravity and tides.

Jessica Hulvey Jessica Hulvey 1745 Points

Hi LeRoy, here's a great site with formative assessment included that the students can complete: if you want to incorporate technology. If you want something a lot more hands on, try this: I believe that's roughly the "balloon activity" mentioned in the first link. I hope this helps! Enjoy! - Jessica

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