Deep Sea Explorations
A Short Course Using Lessons from
FOR SEA, MARE and Living in Water
Table of Contents
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Unit 1: Plate Tectonics
1. Reunite Pangaea
Students examine 10 pieces of evidence for the theory of plate tectonics and then use these as guides in cutting apart a modern map and reconstructing the super-continent of Pangaea.
2. The Plot Thickens – Paleomagnetism
Students plot the patterns of magnetic anomalies found in the ocean floor.
3. The Force
Convection currents are observed in a heated beaker of water.
4. Slippin’ and Slidin’ – Plate Tectonics
A student reading with embedded questions summarizes the evidence supporting the theory of crustal plate movement.
5. Packages: 3-D Earth Model
Students create a three-dimensional cross-section of the earth’s crust.
Unit 2: Bottom Features
6. Deep Sounds
An introductory reading and vocabulary puzzle emphasize the similarity between ocean floor topography and land topography.
7. ‘Sounds Good to Me’
Students transform echo sounding data into a bottom profile.
8. Retracing the Steps of Columbus
Using echo sounding data, students construct a bottom profile of the Atlantic ocean basin.
9. The World’s Smallest Ocean
Students build an ocean floor model in a shoebox, then “sound” the depths for seamounts, etc.
Alternative lab: If I Can’t See It, How Do I Know It’s There?
Students craft ocean bottom features in the bottom of shoeboxes and then trade covered boxes. Students probe the shoebox topography through holes in the shoebox lids and map the hidden ocean floors their classmates created.
10. Mountain Making – Topographic Maps
Using a “mountain” of modeling clay, students cut off horizontal layers to create a topographic map of the mountain.
Students create a bathymetric map, then use this map to create a 3-D model of the area shown on the map.
Unit 3: Getting there – History of Seafloor Exploration
12. Explorers of the Ocean Depths: The Challenger Expedition of 1872-1876
Students read and interpret an article about the first major scientific expedition to systematically gather data about the oceans.
13. Designing Deep Sea Life
Based on the information available to early scientists, students design and draw an organism that could live in the deep sea.
14. Depth Line
Students make a scale of ocean depth on a 4 meter length of adding machine tape, placing labels along the scale indicating notable events.
15. The Ocean Floor
This reading describes some of the technology oceanographers use to map the ocean bottom and outlines major ocean floor features.
16. Underwater exploration
How is modern technology being used to study the physical, geological, chemical and biological nature of the oceans? Research project on technology and its applications.
Unit 4: Chemosynthesis
17. Glowing in the Dark: Bioluminescence
Students culture bioluminescent bacteria.
18. Marine Bacteriology
Students culture a variety of marine organisms as they learn sterile technique.
19. Symbiosis in the Deep Sea – Three-Level Guide
This journal article introduces students to the chemosynthesis-based food webs of the deep sea hydrothermal vents.
20. Chemicals or Light – Chemosynthesis/Photosynthesis
Simple chemical equations are used to compare photosynthesis and chemosynthesis as primary production processes.
21. The Mating Game
Students play a hydrothermal vent game based on the TV show “Dating Game”.
Unit 5: Deep Sea Biology
22. Creatures of the Abyss
Students review sunlight-based food webs and how marine snow, or detritus, moves energy and nutrients from shallow waters to the deep sea. Students are introduced to the bizarre animals of the abyss who depend on this marine snow.
23. Light to sea by
What happens to light when it shines through water?
24. Hide and seek
What does it look like under water? What do animals see? Is camouflage the same below water as above?
25. Properties of the Deep Sea
Students use colored acetate sheets to simulate the color filtering effect of sea water depth, and to see how fish use this effect as camouflage.
26. Red Fish Roundup
Students wear blue cellophane goggles to simulate the light conditions during an underwater diving experience while searching for camouflaged fish.
27. The Pressure’s On!
This reading describes the tremendous pressures animals experience in the deep sea and explores selected deep sea fish adaptations.
Alternative lab: Grace under pressure
Does water pressure vary with depth?
Alternative lab: How Low Can You Go?
Students are introduced to the tremendous pressures and darkness of the deep sea by exploring the structural adaptations of the deep sea Angler Fish.
28. Deep Sea Trawl Simulation
Student teams conduct simulated trawls in the deep sea. Budgets are limited.
29. Analysis of Animal Adaptations
Fish adapted to the completely dark, high pressure, very cold deep sea habitat are strange indeed.
30. Glowing in the Dark: Bioluminescence
Students explore the effect of bioluminescence on communication and concealment in the deep sea, using flashlights to role play schooling behavior.
31. Hydrothermal Vent Food Webs
Students assemble a hydrothermal vent food web, connecting chemosynthetic bacteria and other vent organisms.
Alternative lab: Cycling in the Hydrothermal Vents
Food webs at a hydrothermal vent are illustrated by teams of students. Difference between Photosynthesis and Chemosynthesis is emphasized.
Unit 6: Hydrothermal Vents
32. Hydrothermal Vent Formation
The creation of hydrothermal vent chimneys is simulated by precipitation of salt from a saturated solution.
Unit 7: Navigation – Getting Around on the Ocean
33. That Was Then, This Is Now…A Brief History of the World From the
Perspective of Oceanographers.
Students create a timeline depicting the history of European and Mediterranean peoples’ interactions with the sea.
34. Meanwhile, in the Pacific…Where Did the Polynesians Come From?
Students read and compare two theories about the origins of the people who colonized the islands in the Pacific.
35. Meanwhile, in the Pacific…Where Did the Polynesians Come From?
Two journal articles describe efforts to learn and practice Polynesian navigation.
36. Storm Warning
From knowledge of its speed, distance, and bearings, students learn to determine the time that a storm or vessel will arrive at a point. A history of a near disaster at sea is also included.
37. Follow That Whale!
An essential skill for all who work on the water, students learn to read and understand nautical charts.
38. Hmmmm…..Where Did You Say We Were?
Students use a nautical chart and parallel rulers to plot locations, set course headings, and determine distances.
39. Tracking Hurricane Iniki
Students use real data from The Central Pacific Hurricane Center to map the movement of Hurricane Iniki across the Pacific to Hawaii.
Unit 8: Diving
40. Diver Underboard!
Students read about hazards human divers face when exposed to pressures underwater SCUBA diving, like nitrogen narcosis and air embolisms.
41. Using the 24 Hour Clock
This lesson provides practice reading the 24 hour clock and adding and subtracting 24 hour clock times.
42. Design a Submersible Vehicle
Using a variety of “junk items” provided by the teacher, students design and test a submersible vehicle.
Unit 9: Putting it All Together
43. Aquatic science symposium
An aquatic conference for parents or other students.
Below, you’ll find helpful resources for use with the above activities.
Unit 1: Plate Tectonics
Activity 1 Reunite Pangaea
Activity 4 Slippin’ and Slidin’ – Plate Tectonics
Make your own Earth and tectonic globes instructions
Make your own Earth globe
Make your own tectonic globe
Activity 12 Explorers of the Ocean Depths
Activity 13 Designing Deep Sea Life
How to find marine information
Activity 15 The Ocean Floor
Construct a globe
Great Circle indicator
Activity 17 Glowing in the Dark – Bioluminescence
Activity 22 Creatures of the Abyss
Activity 27 The Pressure’s on!
Alternative lab – Grace under pressure worksheet
Activity 31 Hydrothermal Vent Food Webs
Sea floor exploration
Activity 32 Hydrothermal Vent Formation
Deep sea research images
Vents and the Salty Sea article
Deep sea chimneys
Activity 33 That Was Then, This is Now…extension activities
We Care About Oceans Slide Show
National Wildlife Federation Creed
Message from NWF Vice President
About the National Wildlife Federation
National Wildlife Federation Explorers slide show
Activity 34 Meanwhile, in the Pacific…
Naviagting without instruments
Art of Polynesian naviagtion
Activity 36 Storm Warning
Starfisher’s Last Voyage
Activity 37 Follow That Whale!
Make your own globe
Activity 40 Diver Underboard!
Kelp forest images
Activity 42 Design a Submersible Vehicle
Deep sea exploration images
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