ESS3: Earth and Human Activity

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. 

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.

STEM Learning Module:

Exploration Expenses

Work in groups to take on the role of expedition planners for an E/V Nautilus expedition. Each student or team will choose one expedition card with a map and pertinent expedition budget factors. Use provided information to plan an efficient route and calculate expenses (multiplication, rates) according to their staffing and mission planning decisions.

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:

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:

Seafloor Mapping Simulation

Introduce students to multibeam sonar mapping using simulated sonar beams (wooden dowels) and “mystery seafloor” boxes with perforated lids and hidden landscapes. Students will use the dowel to measure returns then calculate the depth of their sonar soundings based on the speed of sound through water (basic conversions and algebraic equations). Students will infer the seafloor features based on the depth profiles created, and compare and analyze the differences between low and high-resolution sounding maps before revealing the true hidden landscape.

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.”

Activity or Mini-Lesson:

Seafloor Mapping Classroom Warm Up

This classroom warm up will help students understand why mapping is such an important component of ocean exploration. 

Whether focused on a canyon, seamount, or shipwreck, creating a map allows us to identify potential targets, cutting down exploration time and boosting our mission efficiency. Before ROVs are deployed, our team must first map the area to understand the characteristics of the region and identify potential benthic habitats, seeps, and other environments and resources worthy of exploration.