STEM Learning Module:

Ocean Silicate Geology

Using marshmallow modeling tools, in this activity students will model the formation of silicates–the family of minerals that make up more than 90% of the Earth’s crust. Silicates range from mafic to felsic. And since not all silicates are made equal, the composition of each of these minerals varies greatly on the depth within the Earth.

Design Challenge:


Learners will discuss, research, design, build, and showcase a model ocean exploration device from LEGO bricks or other found materials. Work in teams to research the variety of ocean exploration devices including the tools on E/V Nautilus but don't forget the Build-A-Bot Inspiration Slidedeck for more ideas!  Brainstorm what type of tool learners want to make, what their device will do, and why there is a need for this tool. 

Teaching Animation or Graphic:

ROV Explainer Graphic Poster

Learn about the features of Remotely Operated Vehicles which help the Corps of Exploration understand our ocean world. 

Learn more about the ROVs and different technologies used in the Nautilus Exploration Program here

STEM Learning Module:

Hercules Illuminating The Dark

Five activity stations and demonstrations guide students through different examples of light refraction and ask follow-up questions to engage their analysis skills. 

Sunlight rarely travels more than 200 meters (656 feet) deep into the ocean. Vast unexplored regions of the ocean are perpetually dark. Bringing light deep into the ocean introduces challenges, but also the chance to make many discoveries.  Explore the phenomena of colored light, phased absorption of different wavelengths, and other impacts on light underwater with the following five activities.

Data-Driven Activity:

Monterrey A Shipwreck Model

The Monterrey A shipwreck was surveyed by the Corps of Exploration in 2013. The wreck is a wooden-hulled and copper-sheathed sailing ship that sank in over 4,000 feet of water some 200 years ago. The vessel carries at least 5 cannon and crates of muskets. Its mission remains a mystery. Was this a pirate, a privateer, a military ship, or a heavily defended merchant?

Explore these photomosaics, videos, and models made by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to learn more!

Activity or Mini-Lesson:

Chemistry of Bioluminescence

Bioluminescence is the superpower that some animals can make their own light using chemical reactions. Explore the concepts in a glowstick lab and learn more about the STEM career of an Environmental Chemist - a specialist who sees reactions in the real-world.

STEM Learning Module:

Driftin' Away

Oceanographic drifters are essential tools deployed in the open ocean to verify computer model predictions of ocean currents. Students will learn about ground-truthing and compare and contrast data collected through field methods against modeled predictions. Students will apply their new knowledge predicting a drifter’s path using an Eastern Pacific Ocean current simulator, and then ground-truth their track’s accuracy against actual drifter data collected on Nautilus.

STEM Learning Module:

Model Behavior

Learn the function and importance of scientific computer models used to predict complex phenomena. Examining a model for the behavior of oil in the marine environment, students develop a model to test one real-world parameter that would influence the behavior of oil molecules in an ocean. Students will use their proxy models to make connections to and ask questions about current research on hazard mitigation. This module works well as an introduction to the scientific method and precise measurement.

STEM Learning Module:

Get To Know A Drifter

Ocean drifters are a simple, but important oceanographic research tool. Students will work in small groups to research structural and functional components of surface and deep water drifters, compare building materials and associated costs, and complete a design sketch. Students build a model of a drifter using everyday supplies and develop a hypothetical research proposal for how their drifter could contribute to the scientific understanding of the ocean.