ESS2: Earth’s Systems

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.

STEM Learning Module:

Pressure & Density Stations

Students will learn about two key physical properties of oceans: pressure and density, by rotating through stations. Stations include floating/sinking density challenges, DIY lava lamps, data interpretation, Cartesian divers, and more. After rotations, students work with teammates to summarize their learning and make connections from water properties to ocean exploration and ROV technology.

STEM Learning Module:

Tectonic Plates

Build students' understanding of boundary types and tectonic plate movements through three activities: modeling plate boundaries with graham crackers and frosting, video analysis, and analyzing real-world earthquake data to make predictions.

Data-Driven Activity:

Investigating Ocean Volume

Students will explore volume across the Earth’s ocean basins through observation of maps and hands-on learning. Students will reflect on the influences of depth and surface area in volumetric equations.

Design Challenge:

Ocean Motion & the Attitude Sensor Project

How E/V Nautilus responds to open ocean waves and its orientation called the ship’s attitude. Sensors on the ship work to collect the variables of heave (up and down motion), pitch (front to back seesaw motion), and roll (side to side motion) of the vessel.

In this project, learn to build a Raspberry Pi©-powered sensor to collect pitch and roll data of your platform, just like the attitude sensor on Nautilus!


STEM Learning Module:

Sense Your Surroundings

Building off the Can You Sense It module, students will design a research question they can answer using an Arduino sensor. Challenge groups to identify questions that can be answered with data on environmental variables collected from a sensor deployed within the school or community. A provided resource bank guides students through sensor platform design including instructions to add data logging capacity to the platform.

Sensor Technology Series: Module 3

Design Challenge:

Augmented Reality Bathymetry Sandbox

The AR sandbox project combines 3D visualization applications with a hands-on sandbox exhibit to teach earth science concepts.

Designed by researchers at University of California - Davis, the hands-on exhibit allows learners to physically explore topographic and bathymetric concepts, relationships, and visualize the processes that result from manipulating the sand.

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.

Teaching Animation or Graphic:

Tectonic Plates Teaching Animation

Convection, the movement of fluid beneath Earth's crust, drives the planet's tectonic plates. This process can result in seafloor spreading, which can result in the formation of new areas of oceanic crust. 

Clips used in public presentations should be credited “Courtesy of Ocean Exploration Trust/ Nautilus Live.”