Education Lesson Plans
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a great opportunity to reach out in new ways to teachers, students, and the general public through its ocean exploration efforts and share the excitement of daily at-sea discoveries and the science behind its major ocean exploration initiatives with the people around the world. The Hidden Ocean, Arctic 2005 Expedition presents a unique opportunity to engage explorers of all ages as we journey to a world that few have seen, the little explored Arctic Ocean. During this mission, scientists will contribute to a comprehensive interdisciplinary effort to establish a marine life inventory and characterize the physical, and chemical environment of the sea-ice, pelagic and benthic habitats and ecosystems covering a wide range of biota from microbes to vertebrates. They will combine remotely operated vehicles, SCUBA and in situ techniques with traditional ice coring, pelagic nets and benthic cores on board an ice-breaking vessel during this 3-4 week expedition to the Canada Basin.
Educators and scientists working with NOAA during June 2005 developed a series of lesson plans for students in Grades 5 – 12 that are specifically tied to the Hidden Ocean, Arctic 2005 Expedition. These lesson plans focus on cutting-edge ocean exploration and research using state-of-the-art technologies. Lessons focus on the trophic relationships in Arctic marine ecosystems; the pelagic, benthic, and sea-ice realms; Arctic climate change; the potential role of Arctic methane deposits in climate change; water masses and gelatinous zooplankton in the Canada Basin; and social, economic and environmental consequences of Arctic climate change.
Each grade-level grouping includes activities that focus on the exploration and research being conducted as part of this expedition. 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 regularly sent back from sea. Teachers are encouraged to use the daily logs posted on this site to supplement the lesson plans.
Read a description of each lesson plan and/or download them 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.
Jelly Critters (5 pages, 269k)
Focus- (Life Science) - Gelatinous zooplankton in the Canada Basin
In this activity, students will be able to compare and contrast
at least three different groups of organisms that are included in ‘gelatinous
zooplankton’, describe how gelatinous zooplankton fit into marine
food webs, and explain how inadequate information about an organism may
lead to that organism being perceived as insignificant.
Three Cold Realms (5 pages, 267k)
Focus – (Biology) Pelagic, benthic and sea ice realms
In this activity, students will be able to compare and contrast the pelagic, benthic and sea ice realms of the Arctic Ocean, name at least three organisms that are typical of each of these three realms, and explain how the pelagic, benthic and sea ice realms interact with each other.
Where Have All the Glaciers Gone? (8 pages, 295k)
Focus – (Earth Science) Arctic Climate Change
In this activity, students will be able to describe how climate change is affecting sea ice, vegetation, and glaciers in the Arctic region, explain how changes in the Arctic climate can produce global impacts, and will be able to provide three examples of such impacts.
Students will also be able to explain how a given impact resulting from climate change may be considered ‘positive’ as well as ‘negative’, and will be able to provide at least one example of each.
What’s Eating You? (6 pages, 286k)
Focus (Chemistry/Biology) - Trophic relationships in Arctic marine ecosystems
In this activity, students will be able to describe how ratios of stable
nitrogen isotopes can be used to study trophic relationships between marine
organisms, make inferences about trophic relationships between organisms
and habitats, and compare and contrast organisms in sea ice, pelagic, and
benthic communities in terms of feeding strategies and consequent stable
nitrogen isotope ratios.
Getting to the Bottom (7 pages, 295k)
Focus – (Biology) Benthic communities in the Canada Basin
In this activity, students will be able to identify major
taxa that are dominant in deep benthic communities of the Arctic Ocean.
Given distribution data for major taxa in different Arctic benthic communities,
students will be able to identify patterns in the distribution of these
taxa and infer plausible reasons for these patterns.
Burp Under the Ice (5 pages, 269k)
Focus - (Earth Science) Potential role of Arctic methane deposits in climate change
In this activity, students will be able to identify the natural
processes that produce methane, describe where methane deposits are located
in the Arctic region, explain how warmer climates may affect Arctic methane
deposits, explain how the release of large volumes of methane might affect
Earth’s climate, and describe how methane releases may have contributed
to mass extinction events in Earth’s geologic history.
The Good the Bad and the Arctic (13 pages, 368k)
Focus – (Biology/Earth Science) Social, economic and environmental consequences of Arctic climate change
In this activity, students will be able to identify and explain
at least three lines of evidence that suggest the Arctic climate is changing,
identify and discuss at least three social, three economic and three environmental
consequences expected as a result of Arctic climate change, identify at
least three climate-related issues of concern to Arctic indigenous peoples,
and identify at least three ways in which Arctic climate change is likely
to affect the rest of the Earth’s ecosystems.
Just Jelly (8 pages, 297k)
Focus (Biology) - Water masses and gelatinous zooplankton in the Canada Basin
In this activity, students will be able to compare and contrast
the feeding strategies of at least three different types of gelatinous
zooplankton, and explain why gelatinous zooplankton may function at several
trophic levels within a marine food web. Given information on the vertical
distribution of temperature in a water column, students will be able to
make inferences about potential influences on the distribution of planktonic
species in the water column.
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.