FOR SEA Institute of Marine Science
Back to
FOR SEA Guide Page
FOR SEA Table of Contents Return to Main Menu

Grades 9-12   Unit 2
Ocean Currents and the Open Ocean

Table of Contents

Click on a lesson title to view the complete lesson as a pdf.

Want to customize the lesson? Click on the “” icon that follows the
lesson overview to download the lesson as an editable Word document

Conceptual Scheme
Marine Aquaria
Successful Fieldtripping

1. Creating Currents
Demonstrations model how waters of differing temperature and salinity move and layer and how wind and the earth’s rotation drive currents.

2. Mapping Ocean Currents
Students research and map ocean currents.

3. Ocean Currents
The Ocean Currents reading describes the causes and patterns of global currents and the importance of upwelling and El Nino.

4. The Circulation of the Oceans
A journal article and word puzzle summarize research on ocean currents.

5. Drifting with the R/V Wecoma
Students plot real data from drift bottle recoveries to map currents off the Oregon coast.

6. Observations of Living Plankton
Students observe plankton, the usually microscopic organisms carried and nourished by ocean currents.

7. Out of Sight
This reading and puzzle explore the importance of plankton in marine food webs.

8. Satellite Images
Students predict where phytoplankton populations will be highest in the oceans and then interpret color images made from actual satellite data.

9. “The Nature of Oceanic Life” – Three Level Guide
This journal article describes the variety of marine habitats and how they are connected by currents and plankton.

10. Animals of the Open Ocean: Jellyfish and Nematocyst Firing
Students test materials to find which trigger the discharge of stinging cells.

11. Sharks!
Choose from a menu of activities exploring sharks and their adaptations.

12. A Shark Reading
This reading summarizes external features of sharks, their feeding adaptations, their senses and issues surrounding shark fisheries.

13. A Shark Study
In A Shark Study students dissect a shark and examine its external and internal anatomy.

14. Fish
Students identify the functions of structures in a basic fish form and then identify how variations on that body.

15. How Old Are You?
Students age fish by counting growth rings on scales. The activity explores how this type of data is used to evaluate the health of a fish population.

16. Marine Mammals
This reading describes the major groups of marine mammals and their adaptations.

17. Marine Mammal Adaptations: Blubber Mitt Lab & Staying Warm
Students test the insulating properties of a model of blubber.

18. Marine Mammal Adaptations: Diving Buoyancy Lab
Students combine materials to create a neutrally buoyant model of a whale.

19. Marine Mammal Adaptations: Bradycardia – The Diving Response
Students experience and measure their own diving response as they immerse their faces in cold water.

20. Marine Mammal Adaptations: Echolocation
Slinky wave puzzles are used to determine the distance between a student and an object.

21. Exploiting Marine Mammals
Students examine case histories of human use and management of marine mammal populations.

22. The Scrimshander
Students practice the folk art of bone carving used by early whalers on board ship to pass the time.

23. Whale Research: The Challenges of Counting and Monitoring a Population of Whales
Students play the role of orca whales surfacing from time to time while student whale researchers try to get an accurate count of the whale population.

24. Whale Research: Orca Photo I.D.
Students identify whales by matching photos of orcas with drawings from an orca identification catalogue.

25. Earth as a Greenhouse
Students take a last look at the oceans from a global perspective by studying global climate change. They measure temperature changes in model greenhouses and examine how the earth’s atmosphere creates a similar greenhouse effect.

26. What Comes In? What Goes Out? – An Investigation of Photosynthesis and Respiration in Water Plants
This discrepant event lab challenges students to explain how gas exchanges by water plants cause color changes in a pH indicator.

27. Looking For Carbon Dioxide
Students first measure the carbon dioxide various CO2 sources produce and then graph real data tracking CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

28. Looking For Another Greenhouse Gas: Methane
Students learn about and rank sources of methane.

29. Global Climate Change: What Do the Scientists Say?
This reading explores historical and prehistorical climate data and examines models of future climate change.

30. World Conference on Global Warming
Students assume roles of various interest groups and make presentations at a simulated “World Conference on Global Warming”.

Production Credits

Below, you’ll find helpful resources for use with the above activities.

Unit II: Resources

Activity 3 Ocean Currents
El Niño article
El Niño images
Pacific time series images

Activity 5 Drifting with the R/V Wecoma
Make your own globe

Activity 7 Out of Sight
The Sea From Space
Global biosphere image

Activity 8 Satellite Images
Key to Satellite images
Africa plankton images
Atlantic plankton image
California plankton images
Global plankton images
Baja California ocean color images
Gulf Stream temperature image
Japan plankton images
North Atlantic plankton images1
North Atlantic plankton images2
Understanding Color-Infrared Photos

Activity 11 Sharks!
Sharks and Their Relatives part 1
Sharks and Their Relatives part 2
Sharks and Their Relatives part 3
Sharks and Their Relatives part 4
Sharks and Their Relatives part 5

Activity 16 Marine Mammals
Origami Whale

Activity 21 Exploiting Marine Mammals
Yellowfin tuna fishing photos
Example of student response
Harbor seal photos

Activity 22 – The Scrimshander
Scrimshaw photos

Activity 23 The Challenge of Counting and Monitoring a Population of Whales
Whale watching photo album
Whale watch guidelines
Watching whales
Whale watch awareness zone

Activity 24 Whale Research: Orca Photo I.D
Whale photos key 1
Whale photos key 2
Whale photos key 3
Whale photos key 4
Whale catalog 1
Whale photos master 1
Whale photos master 2
Whale photos master 3
Whale photos master 4
Whale catalog 2
Genealogical keys part 2
Genealogical keys part 3
Orca adoption program
Student whale photos part 2
Student whale photos part 2
Student whale photos part 2
Student whale photos part 2
Student whale photos part 2
Student whale photos part 2
Killer whales article

Activity 25 The Earth as a Greenhouse
Apollo 10 Earth images
Biosphere climate modeling
Greenhouse effect and the ocean article

Activity 27 Looking for Carbon Dioxide
Oceanographic research tools
Ocean views from space

Activity 29 Global Climate Change: What Do the Scientists Say?
Investigator’s Notebook
Soils and global warming

Activity 30 World Conference on Global Warming
Viewing the oceans from space
Investigator’s Notebook
Total Ozone from space
Finding Marine Information

” Icon made by Pixel perfect from

Return to FOR SEA Guide Page