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Earth and Space Science


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LeRoy Attles LeRoy Attles 56530 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 89208 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 56530 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 56530 Points

Attached is a video explaining the Oceans role in climate Change It includes a demo explaining the Heat Capacity of Air and Water http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.cfm?id=827

LeRoy Attles LeRoy Attles 56530 Points

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

Susan Phillips Susan Phillips 2400 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 http://www.msc.ucla.edu/oceanglobe/

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: http://www.k12science.org/curriculum/gulfstream/studentcurrentnow.shtml 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.

Adah Stock Adah Stock 101510 Points

Lisa: Have you looked at the Jason project website. All activities are free online now. http://www.jason.org/public/whatis/curr.aspx Dr.Ballard worked who was at the Science Teachers of Texas state conference is a famous oceanographer. You might want to check out this site. Adah

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

Hi LeRoy and everyone,

LeRoy you might be finished with your oceanography labs but I wanted to share with you and others this excellent resource

Last night I attended the NOAA web seminar on NOAA's Ocean Acidification Data-in-the-Classroom Module


The modules are on El Nino , Sea Level, Water Quality and Ocean Acidification

Each module has different entry points for different learners using an inquiry spectrum
entry, adoption, adaption, interactivity and invention which spans inquiry as teacher directed to student directed. We were taken through ocean acidification module in this web seminar and got to experience each of the five entry points. This was EXCELLENT !

This is the website

"We're taking a systems approach to learning about the Earth using real scientific data. Our goal is to design easy-to-use curriculum activities and simple, intuitive computer interfaces for accessing online data. It's all part of a NOAA-supported effort called the NODE Project."

More on the NODE Project

The NOAA Ocean Data Education (NODE) Project is developing curriculum for grades 6-8 designed to help teachers and students use real scientific data to explore dynamic Earth processes and understand the impact of environmental events on a regional or global scale.

The archive of this session should be posted soon.

Arlene Jl

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68605 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 :)

Tina Harris Tina Harris 65805 Points

I would love to hear about the dance your students do - here in a landlocked state it is rather difficult for students to picture what a tide is and how it functions. I was playing on the internet and came across this interactive - probably not what you are looking for but it is still rather clever for its simplicity. http://www.mmscrusaders.com/newscirocks/tides/tideanim.htm This animation was cool too http://educypedia.karadimov.info/library/tidesim.swf You know as hard as this is to teach, you would think there would be more animations and interactives...I would still love to hear about that dance, though!

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.

Tina Harris Tina Harris 65805 Points

Sounds great? Does the Earth ever get dizzy and get caught by the tides (because I know I would!). I bet the kids love doing this! Thanks for sharing!

Kim Geier Kim Geier 10 Points

Here is an interactive website with the gravity and tides. http://sunshine.chpc.utah.edu/labs/tides/menu_tide.swf

Jessica Hulvey Jessica Hulvey 1745 Points

Hi LeRoy, here's a great site with formative assessment included that the students can complete: http://aspire.cosmic-ray.org/labs/tides/tides_main.html if you want to incorporate technology. If you want something a lot more hands on, try this: http://www.santarosa.edu/~lwillia2/4aLab/4Agravity.pdf I believe that's roughly the "balloon activity" mentioned in the first link. I hope this helps! Enjoy! - Jessica

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