With the establishment of the Ocean Exploration Program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), we have an opportunity reach out in new ways to teachers, students, and the general public and share the excitement of daily discoveries while at sea and the science behind the exploration initiatives sponsored by NOAA. The Arctic Exploration has great potential for generating exciting outreach and education opportunities, as an international team of 50 scientists from the United States, Canada, China and Japan explore the frigid depths of the Canada Basin, located in the Arctic Ocean. Due to the region's heavy year-round ice cover, this expedition is the first one of its kind. Due to the Canada Basin's remote location, it is possible that they will encounter never before seen lifeforms.
With the aid of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) specially designed to operate under ice and at great depth, scientists will examine the hidden world of life in these extreme conditions. From intricate microscopic organisms found in the brine channels that run through the ice to the creatures that make the sea bottom their home, the science team will study the relationships between pelagic (deep-water) and benthic (bottom-dwelling) communities.
Educators and scientists working with NOAA during August 2002 developed a series of lesson plans for students in Grades 5 through 12 that are specifically tied to the Arctic Exploration Expedition. These lesson plans focus on the importance of ocean exploration and the research taking place during the Arctic Ocean, and feature such topics as primary productivity and limiting factors, climate change, benthic communities, and sampling strategies in the Arctic region.
The lesson plans are grouped into the following categories:
In addition to being tied to the National Science Education Standards, the hands-on, inquiry-based activities include focus questions, background information for teachers, links to interesting Internet sites, and extensions. Web logs that document the latest discoveries and complement the lesson plans, complete with compelling images and video, will be sent back from sea during the mission. Teachers are encouraged to use the mission logs from the Arctic Exploration, which are posted on this site, to supplement the lesson plans.
Polar Bear Panic! (8 pages, 476k)
Focus: Climate change in the Arctic Ocean
In this activity, students will be able to identify the three realms of the Arctic Ocean, and describe the relationships between these realms; be able to graphically analyze data on sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, and recognize a trend in these data; and discuss possible causes for observed trends in Arctic sea ice, and infer the potential impact of these trends on biological communities in the Arctic
Life in the Crystal Palace (6 pages, 464k)
Focus: Sea ice communities in the Arctic Ocean
In this activity, students will be able to identify major groups of organisms found in Arctic sea ice communities, describe major physical features of sea ice communities and how these features change during summer and winter, and will be able to explain how these changes affect biological activity within these communities. Students will also be able to describe interactions that take place between sea ice communities, and will be able to explain the importance of sea ice communities to Arctic ecosystems.
Would You Like a Sample? (30 pages, 556k)
Focus: Sampling strategies for biological communities
In this activity, students will be able to identify the three realms of the Arctic Ocean, and describe the relationships between these realms and discuss the advantages and limitations of sampling techniques to study biological communities.
Meet the Arctic Benthos (8 pages, 492k)
Focus: Benthic invertebrate groups in the Arctic Ocean
In this activity, students will be able to recognize and identify major groups found in the Arctic benthos, describe common feeding strategies used by benthic animals in the Arctic Ocean, and discuss relationships between groups of animals in Arctic benthic communities. Students will also be able to discuss the importance of diversity in benthic communities.
Being Productive (Chemistry/Biology) (14 pages, 512k)
Focus: Primary productivity and limiting factors in the Arctic Ocean
In this activity, students will be able to identify the three realms of the Arctic Ocean, and describe the relationships between these realms; and identify major factors that limit primary productivity in the Arctic Ocean, and describe how these factors exert limiting effects. Given data on potentially limiting factors and primary productivity, students will be able to infer which factors are actually having a limiting effect.
Lets Get to the Bottom (8 pages, 476k)
Focus: Factors that influence the composition of benthic communities in the deep Arctic Ocean
In this activity, students will be able to identify the three realms of the Arctic Ocean, and describe the relationships between these realms; describe different species associations in a benthic community; and be able to infer probable feeding strategies used by benthic organisms and relate these strategies to sediment characteristics.
Message in the Bottles (13 pages, 88k)
Focus: Estimating primary productivity (Earth Science/Chemistry)
In this activity, students will be able to identify the three realms of the Arctic Ocean, and describe the relationships between these realms; explain the relationships between gross primary productivity, net primary productivity, and respiration; and understand how oxygen production and consumption can be measured and used to estimate primary productivity in water bodies.
Current Events (8 pages, 472k)
Focus: Currents and water circulation in the Arctic Ocean (Earth Science)
In this activity, students will be able to identify the primary driving forces for ocean currents and will be able to infer the type of water circulation to be expected in the Arctic Ocean, given information on temperature, salinity, and bathymetry.
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