Education

Science

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.

Activity or Mini-Lesson:

Ocean Exploration Course for Middle School

This guide shares the sequence of suggested activities, lessons & learning modules for a 9 week-long Ocean Exploration class (quarter-long elective), designed for middle school students. It can easily be adapted for an after-school club, a summer program, or a segment of a middle school science course. Lessons can be completed as outlined below, but can also be broken up to accommodate class schedules. The activities are designed for hands-on learning and to facilitate a greater understanding of the need for continued ocean exploration.

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.

Activity or Mini-Lesson:

Ocean Zone Home

In this multi-day lesson, students will explore the variety of habitats in the ocean.  Using the ocean zone slides, learners will compare new species and organize their thinking using different organizational charts and documents. Students will work though an ocean zone slideshow, each day is a new comparison of species! Using different strategies, students will have the opportunity to study multiple sea creatures and their unique characteristics. 

Activity or Mini-Lesson:

Oviparous Ocean Animals (Babies in Eggs)

When E/V Nautilus visited the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 2018, the team discovered miles and miles of octopus brooding, or protecting their eggs, along cliff edges. In 2019, the Corps of Exploration returned to see if this amazing discovery was still happening and to gather data on why they were there. Using the 5E method (Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, Evaluate) this lesson, looks at the life history strategy of egg-laying organisms, like octopus. 

Activity or Mini-Lesson:

Coral Reefs in the Dark

Deep-sea corals are vastly different from shallow water corals that are typically shown when students are introduced to coral reefs. Deep-sea corals do not gather their energy from the sun using photosynthesis and the relationship with zooxanthellae. Instead, deep water corals capture all of their food from sinking "marine snow", dead organisms, organic matter, other nutrients falling from higher in the water column. This lesson, using the 5E method of teaching (Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, Evaluate), looks at deep-sea corals of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

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.