LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics

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. 

STEM Learning Module:

Any Fin Is Possible

Students will learn about a variety of fish adaptations for marine and freshwater environments. Students will design a fish using custom printable body plan variations and justify the adaptation choices given to the species with information about how that fish has evolved to be successful for its environment.

STEM Learning Module:

Ecosystem Monitoring Series

This lesson sequence introduces students to the concept of ecosystem monitoring, underwater mountain — seamounts —ecosystems, and the equipment E/V Nautilus uses to aid international scientists in tracking changes in environments. Students will demonstrate their understanding by designing their own monitoring protocol for an offshore seamount.

Lesson segments / Provided student handouts 

STEM Learning Module:

Deep Sea Debris

Using observations from ROV Hercules dives, introduce students to marine pollution and degradation rates of various materials in seawater. Students will categorize trash types and calculate percentages found on the seafloor and summarize how this data relates to marine pollution trends worldwide. Students will describe local actions they can take within their school/ community to reduce pollution’s impact on the oceans.

STEM Learning Module:

Remote Sensing

Transform your students into an exploration team by taking on the roles and dynamics of directing an expedition to study a seafloor habitat. Use the module’s provided original art printables to set-up a seafloor to observe using a remotely operated car and camera. Students will take on roles of data loggers, navigators, ROV pilots, and expedition leaders learning about remote sensing technologies, data collection, and teamwork.

Printable seafloor scenes by artist Christina Machinski.

STEM Learning Module:

eDNA - There's Something in the Water

As science advances, the methods used to explore the world advance too. Environmental DNA sampling is changing how scientists measure biodiversity in the deep sea. In this lesson, learners will learn about emerging technologies and extract eDNA from water samples containing “glitter eDNA” using pipettes and filters. They will use QR code 'DNA barcodes' to identify the species represented by their samples and determine what ecosystem the water was collected from.

Activity or Mini-Lesson:

Oxygen Minimum Zone Classroom Warm Up

Classroom Warm-ups: Kick-off any lesson with these one-page, observation-building, problem-solving STEM prompts — whether or not you’re teaching an ocean topic.

This warm-up exercise will help students to understand the characteristics of oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) and the ecology and biology found within. OMZs are locations in the world ocean where oxygen saturation in the water column is at its lowest. These areas typically occur between 200 and 1,000 meters (650 to 3,280 feet). 

STEM Learning Module:

Living on a Chimney

Introduce students to ecological relationships and organisms existing in one of the most extreme habitats on Earth: deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Using creature cards to construct a model food web with trophic levels, trophic positions, and ecological niches, students will determine the spatial distribution of organisms across a hydrothermal vent community based on provided evidence.