Activity or Mini-Lesson:

At-Home Nautilus Activity Book

Dive into math activities, mazes, coloring pages, writing prompts, and buildable-models to learn about the seafloor and tools of ocean exploration.

Paperback, 32 pages.

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:

Introduction to Ocean Exploration - Stations of Learning

Use this lesson to introduce students to how & why we explore the world’s oceans. Dr. Robert Ballard’s TED Talk establishes a connection encouraging all viewers to cultivate a collective desire to explore the ocean and to stress the importance of continued exploration. 

Activity or Mini-Lesson:

Painting Rainbows On The Seafloor

In this hands-on STEAM activity, students will learn about modern multibeam mapping SONAR technology and the data products created using maps from a 2017 E/V Nautilus expedition to the Revillagigedo Archipelago in Mexico. After examining and interpreting different bathymetric maps produced by the Corps of Exploration, students will paint their own watercolor bathymetry in this art integration activity.

Activity or Mini-Lesson:

Explore More Acrostic Poem

Create an acrostic poem, using the phrase ‘Explore More’, as a pathway to building a foundation of understanding about ocean exploration. In an acrostic poem, the letters in a word (or phrase) to start every line of the poem. Together, the lines of the poem describe the main topic of the acrostic and combine to form a message. Lines don’t need to rhyme or have a specific length as long as they all connect back to the primary phrase – in this case, ‘Explore More’.

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.