OE Education

These lesson plans focus on Mountains in the Sea 2004: Exploring the New England Seamount Chain expedition.


Mountains in the Sea 2004: Exploring the New England Seamount Chain

Live Webcasts
May 17-21, 2004

Boldly go with us to the Mountains in the Sea 2004, linking research and education through technology. Sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office of Ocean Exploration, the expedition enlisted the support of many others to provide a live link from the ship during the last week at sea. These partners include the Institute for Exploration, VBrick Systems, EDS, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Rhode Island.

The Mountains in the Sea 2004 expedition is an amazing collaboration of scientists, technicians, and educators. Watch this team work daily, via informal Webcast, May 17-20. The Webcast is scheduled from 1-3 pm EST, except for May 20, when it is scheduled from 1:30-3:30 pm. The Webcasts will provide live video from the deep sea, with the scientists on board describing what we are seeing and doing. We will also provide short highlight video clips from the previous week that will directly link to the lesson plans developed by Ocean Explorer's Education Program. Specifically, the science we will be conducting relates directly to the following lesson plans.


Education Lesson Plans

Through its Office of Ocean Exploration efforts, NOAA strives to reach out in new ways to teachers, students, and the general public. We aim to share the excitement of daily at-sea discoveries and the science behind our major ocean exploration initiatives with people around the world.

The Mountains in the Sea 2004 expedition presents a unique opportunity to engage explorers of all ages as we journey to a world that few have seen. Based on board the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown, scientists will be exploring the New England seamounts. These unique deep-sea biological "islands" feature characteristic organisms that differ from those found in the surrounding deeper habitats. Some characteristics that combine to make seamounts unique habitats for deep-sea organisms include: large depth ranges, hard substrates, steep gradients, complex bottom features, impinging currents, upwelling induced by the shape of the ocean floor, clear oceanic water, and geographic isolation. Scientists will focus their investigations on larval settlement, commensals on deep-sea corals, coral genetics, and deep-sea fishes through the use of the Institute for Exploration’s remotely operated vehicle (ROV), Hercules.

In March of 2004, educators and scientists working with NOAA developed a series of lesson plans that are specifically tied to the Mountains in the Sea 2004 expedition. Geared for students in Grades 5-12, these lesson plans focus on cutting-edge ocean exploration and research, using state-of-the-art technology, such as ROV Hercules, which was used on the Titanic expedition. Lessons focus on the retention of larvae in the vicinity of seamounts; relationships among density, temperature, and depth (given data from last year’s expedition to this same area); and gene sequence analysis.

2004 Lesson Plans
The 2004 lesson plans are grouped into the following categories:
Grades 5-6
Grades 7-8
Grades 9-12 (chemical, biological, Earth, and physical science)

Other Related 2003 Lesson Plans
Other Related 2002 Lesson Plans

Each grade-level grouping includes activities that focus on the exploration and research being conducted as part of the Mountains in the Sea 2004. In addition to following 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 each day from sea. Additional lesson plans from previous expeditions to New England seamounts can be found at http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov. Teachers are encouraged to use the Mountains in the Sea 2004 daily logs, which are posted on this site, to supplement the lesson plans.

Read a description of each lesson plan and/or download it to your computer. All of the lesson plans are available in pdf format, and may be viewed and printed with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. To download a lesson plan, click on its title from the listing below.



Mountains in the Sea 2004 Lesson Plans

Grades 5-6


Leaving Home (6 pages, 396k)
Focus: Larval recruitment on New England seamounts (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to explain the meaning of “larval dispersal” and “larval retention” and explain their importance to populations of organisms in the marine environment. Given data on recruitment of organisms to artificial substrates, students will also be able to draw inferences about larval dispersal in these species.



Grades 7-8


A Matter of Density (6 pages, 416k)
Focus: Temperature, density, and salinity in the deep sea (Physical Science)
In this activity, students will be able to explain the relationship among temperature, salinity, and density; and, given CTD (conductivity, temperature, and density) data, students will be able to calculate density and construct density profiles of a water column. Students will also be able to explain the concept of sigma-t, and explain how density differences may affect the distribution of organisms in a deep-sea environment.



Grades 9-12


Cut-off Genes (12 pages, 648k)
Focus: Gene sequencing and phylogenetic expressions (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to explain the concept of gene-sequence analysis; and, given gene sequence data, students will be able to draw inferences about phylogenetic similarities of different organisms.



View all lessons for Mountains in the Sea 2003 (Click here)

Grades 9-12



No Escape (12 pages, 1Mb)


Focus: Fate of benthic invertebrate larvae in the vicinity of seamounts (Earth Science)
In this activity, students will be able to field data to evaluate an hypothesis about the influence of a water circulation cell on the retention of benthic invertebrate larvae in the vicinity of a seamount, and describe some potential advantages and disadvantages to species whose larvae are retained in the vicinity of seamounts where the larvae are produced. Students will also be able to describe the consequences of partial or total larval retention on the biological evolution of species producing these larvae.

Round and Round (11 pages, 1Mb)


Focus: Circulation cells in the vicinity of seamounts (Earth Science)
In this activity, students will be able to interpret data from a three-dimensional array of current monitors to infer an overall pattern of water circulation, hypothesize what effect an observed water circulation pattern might have on seamount fauna that reproduce by means of floating larvae, and describe the importance of measurements to verify theoretical predictions.



View all lessons for Islands in the Stream 2002: Exploring Underwater Oases (Click here)

Grades 7-8



All That Glitters (8 pages, 476k)
Focus: Absorption, reflection, and scattering of light in the deep sea; bioluminescence
In this activity, students will learn that white light (visible light) is comprised of all colors of the spectrum; that the quantity of light decreases with increasing depth in the ocean; that the quality of light changes with increasing depth; that red light penetrates water the least and that blue light penetrates water the most; that many ocean organisms are bioluminescent; that bioluminescent light is usually blue; why organisms bioluminesce; and will learn about several bioluminescent animals through independent research.



View all lessons for Exploring Alaska's Seamounts 2002 (Click here)

Grades 7-8



Biological Communities of Alaska Seamounts (5 pages, 108k)
Focus: Biological communities of Alaska Seamounts
In this activity, students will be able to infer why biological communities on seamounts are likely to contain unique or endemic species, calculate an index of similarity between two biological communities given species occurrence data, make inferences about reproductive strategies in species that are endemic to seamounts, and explain the implications of endemic species on seamounts to conservation and extinction of these species.



For More Information

Contact Paula Keener-Chavis, national education coordinator for the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration, for more information.

Other lesson plans developed for this Web site are available in the Education Section.