OE Education

These lesson plans focus on the cutting-edge ocean exploration and research using state-of-the-art technologies and include topics such as light, color, and camouflage in the deep ocean; polarization vision; and vision in crustaceans.


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 Life on the Edge 2005 Expedition presents a unique opportunity to engage explorers of all ages as we continue our journeys to a deep-water coral world that few have seen. Our ongoing studies (2000-present) exploring southeastern US (SEUS) and Gulf of Mexico continental slope coral ecosystems are based on hypotheses that these habitats are ecologically important and productive, yet they are poorly documented. There is increasing evidence that deep water (aphotic) corals are important fish habitat, hold data on ocean climate and productivity, and are hotspots of biodiversity, including new species. In fact, the SEUS and Gulf of Mexico may have the most extensive deep coral areas in the US. Locating, describing, and mapping deep corals and conducting basic biological studies in these habitats are priorities for our research. Our previous cruises have documented deep coral and outer shelf reef habitats and associated biota, but these missions have only begun to quantify this extensive habitat in the region. Our studies have yielded many new records of biota, new ecological data, new data on habitat distributions/structures, and data on water column trophic connectivity. This expedition continues and expands our explorations of these unique and relatively unknown deep water habitats, using conventional sampling techniques coupled with cutting-edge technologies, such as the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution’s human-occupied submersible Johnson-Sea-Link.

Educators and scientists working with NOAA developed a series of lesson plans for students in Grades 5 – 12 that are specifically tied to the science behind the Life on the Edge 2005 Expedition. These lesson plans focus on cutting-edge ocean exploration and research using state-of-the-art technologies. 

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

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 each day from sea. Teachers are encouraged to use the daily logs from the Life on the Edge 2005 Expedition, which are posted on this site, to supplement the lesson plans.

You can also follow the progress of the Life on the Edge 2005 mission through the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Web site. Here you can read daily journals, see photos, examine samples of data, ask questions, and download curriculum materials.

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.


Grades 5-6

A Piece of Cake (4 pages, 244k) (from The Charleston Bump 2003 Expedition)
Focus: Spatial heterogeneity in deep-water coral communities (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to explain what a habitat is, describe at least three functions or benefits that habitats provide, and describe some habitats that are typical of deep-water hard bottom communities. Students will also be able to explain how organisms, such as deep-water corals and sponges, add to the variety of habitats in areas such as the Charleston Bump.

Easy as Pi (4 pages, 252k) (from The Charleston Bump 2003 Expedition)
Focus: Structural complexity in benthic habitats (Life Science/Mathematics)
In this activity, students will be able to describe the importance of structural features that increase surface area in benthic habitats and quantify the relative impact of various structural modifications on surface area in model habitats. Students will also be able to give examples of organisms that increase the structural complexity of their communities.


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Grades 7-8

It’s OK To Be a Clod, (5 pages, 252k) (from The Charleston Bump 2003 Expedition)
Focus: Principles of solubility and measurements of water currents (Physical Science/Earth Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe factors that affect the solubility of a chemical substance in seawater and explain how information on the solubility of a substance can be used to measure water currents.

How Am I Supposed to Eat THAT? (4 pages, 248k) (from The Charleston Bump 2003 Expedition)
Focus: Feeding adaptations among benthic organisms (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe at least three nutritional strategies used by benthic organisms typical of deep-water coral communities and describe physical adaptations associated with at least three nutritional strategies used by benthic organisms.


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Grades 9-12

A Tough Neighborhood (4 pages, 244k) (from The Charleston Bump 2003 Expedition)
Focus: Adaptations of benthic organisms to deep water, hard substrates, and strong currents (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe at least three attributes of the deep ocean physical environment that are radically different from ocean habitats near the sea surface and explain at least three morphological or physiological adaptations that allow organisms to survive in the physical environment of the deep ocean. Students will also be able to identify at least three organisms with adaptations to the deep ocean environment that are found (or may be found) on the Charleston Bump.

Feeding in the Flow (6 pages, 268k) (from The Charleston Bump 2003 Expedition)
Focus: Effect of water currents on feeding efficiency in corals (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe at least two ways in which current flow may affect the feeding efficiency of particle-feeding organisms and explain how interactions between current flow and the morphology of a particle-feeding organism may affect the organism’s feeding efficiency. Students will also be able to identify at least two environmental factors in addition to current flow that may affect the morphology of reef-building corals.

Keep It Complex! (5 pages, 272k) (from The Charleston Bump 2003 Expedition)
Focus: Effects of habitat complexity on biological diversity (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe the significance of complexity in benthic habitats to organisms that live in these habitats and will describe at least three attributes of benthic habitats that can increase the physical complexity of these habitats. Students will also be able to give examples of organisms that increase the structural complexity of their communities and infer and explain relationships between species diversity and habitat complexity in benthic communities.

Eddies, Gyres, and Drowning Machines (5 pages, 256k) (from The Charleston Bump 2003 Expedition)
Focus: Effects of bottom topography on currents (Physical Science/Earth Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe at least three types of effects that physical obstructions may have on water flowing past the obstructions, explain at least three ways in which current flow can be significant to benthic organisms, and explain how physical obstructions to current flow can create hazardous swimming conditions.


 

For More Information

Contact Paula Keener-Chavis,
Director, Education Programs
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration

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