Educators and scientists working with NOAA developed a series of lessons for students in Grades 5 - 12 that are specifically tied to the science behind the 2006 Submarine Ring of Fire Expedition. These lessons focus on cutting-edge ocean exploration and research using state-of-the-art technologies.
The lesson plans are grouped into the following categories:
In addition to being tied to the National Science Education Standards and the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts, 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 2006 Ring of Fire Expedition, which are posted on this site, to supplement the lessons.
Read a description of each lesson plan and/or download them to your computer. All of the lesson plans are available in a PDF format, and may be viewed and printed with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. To download a lesson, click on its title from the listing below. (Note: if you have problems downloading one of these lessons, right-click on the link and save the lesson to your desktop.)
The Volcano Factory (7 pages; 273 k)
Focus: Volcanism on the Mariana Arc (Earth Science)
Students will be able to explain the tectonic processes that result in the formation of the Mariana Arc and the Mariana Trench; and explain why the Mariana Arc is one of the most volcanically active regions on Earth.
Living With the Heat (9 pages; 289 k)
Focus: Hydrothermal vent ecology and transfer of energy among organisms that live near vents.
In this activity, students will be able to describe how hydrothermal vents are formed and characterize the physical conditions at these sites, explain what chemosynthesis is and contrast this process with photosynthesis, identify autotrophic bacteria as the basis for food webs in hydrothermal vent communities, and describe common food pathways between organisms typically found in hydrothermal vent communities.
It's Going to Blow Up! (15 pages; 332k)
Focus: Volcanism on the Pacific Ring of Fire (Earth Science)
Students will be able to describe the processes that produce the Submarine Ring of Fire; explain the factors that contribute to explosive volcanic eruptions; identify at least three benefits that humans derive from volcanism; describe the primary risks posed by volcanic activity in the United States; and identify the volcano within the continental U.S. that is considered most dangerous.
What's for Dinner? (8 pages; 288k)
Focus: Sources of nutrition for biological communities associated with volcanoes of the Mariana Arc (Life Science)
Students will be able to compare and contrast photosynthesis and chemosynthesis as sources of primary production for biological communities; give at least three examples of organisms that live near hydrothermal vent systems; and describe two sources of primary production observed in biological communities associated with volcanoes of the Mariana Arc.
Where Did They Come From? (10 pages; 296 k)
Focus: Species variation in hydrothermal vent communities (Life Science)
In this activity, students will define and describe biogeographic provinces of hydrothermal vent communities, identify and discuss processes contributing to isolation and species exchange between hydrothermal vent communities, and discuss characteristics which may contribute to the survival of species inhabiting hydrothermal vent communities.
Hydrothermal Vent Challenge (9 pages; 288 k)
Focus: Chemistry of hydrothermal vents (Chemistry)
Students will be able to define hydrothermal vents and explain the overall processes that lead to their formation; explain the origin of mineral-rich fluids associated with hydrothermal vents; explain how “black smokers” and “white smokers” are formed; and hypothesize how properties of hydrothermal fluids might be used to locate undiscovered hydrothermal vents.
Roots of the Mariana Arc (11 pages; 332 k)
Focus: Seismology and geological origins of the Mariana Arc (Earth Science)
In this activity, students will be able to explain the processes of plate tectonics and volcanism that resulted in the formation of the Mariana Arc and will be able to describe, compare, and contrast S waves and P waves. Students will also be able to explain how seismic data recorded at different locations can be used to determine the epicenter of an earthquake and will infer a probable explanation for the existence of ultra-low velocity zones.
Mystery of the Megaplume (11 pages; 324 k)
Focus: Hydrothermal vent chemistry (Chemistry, Earth Science, Physical Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe hydrothermal vents and characterize vent plumes in terms of physical and chemical properties, describe tow-yo operations and how data from these operations can provide clues to the location of hydrothermal vents, and interpret temperature anomaly data to recognize a probable plume from a hydrothermal vent.
The Biggest Plates on Earth (7 pages, 192k) (from the 2002 Submarine Ring of Fire 2005 Expedition)
Focus: Plate tectonics – movement of plates, results of plate movement, and magnetic anomalies at spreading centers.
In this activity, students will be able to describe the motion of tectonic plates and differentiate between three typical boundary types that occur between tectonic plates, infer what type of boundary exists between two tectonic plates, understand how magnetic anomalies provide a record of geologic history around spreading centers, infer the direction of motion between two tectonic plates given information on magnetic anomalies surrounding the spreading ridge between the plates, and describe plate boundaries and tectonic activity in the vicinity of the Juan de Fuca plate.
Unexplored! (7 pages, 724k) (from the New Zealand American Submarine Ring of Fire 2005 Expedition)
Focus: Scientific exploration of deep-sea volcanoes (Life Science/Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students will be able to compare and contrast submarine volcanoes at convergent and divergent plate boundaries; infer the kinds of living organisms that may be found around hydrothermal vents; describe three ways in which scientists may prepare to explore areas that are practically unknown; and explain two types of primary production that may be important to biological communities around hydrothermal vents in the Mariana Arc.
Island, Reefs, and a Hotspot (8 pages, 484kb) (from the 2002 Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Expedition)
Focus: Formation of the Hawaiian archipelago (Earth Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe eight stages in the formation of islands in the Hawaiian archipelago and will be able to describe the movement of tectonic plates in the Hawaiian archipelago region. Students will also be able to describe how a combination of hotspot activity and tectonic plate movement could produce the arrangement of seamounts observed in the Hawaiian archipelago.
AdVENTurous Findings on the Deep Sea Floor (5 pages, 536k) (from the 2002 Galapagos Rift Expedition)
Focus: Vent development along the Galapagos Rift
In this activity, students will conduct investigations to observe the formation of precipitates; students will create a model of a developing hydrothermal vent; students will generate comparisons between the created hydrothermal vent model and the actual hydrothermal vents developing along the Galapagos Rift.
Mapping Deep-sea Habitats in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (7 pages, 80kb) (from the 2002 Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Expedition)
Focus: Bathymetric mapping of deep-sea habitats (Earth Science - This activity can be easily modified for Grades 5-6)
In this activity, students will be able to create a two-dimensional topographic map given bathymetric survey data, will create a three-dimensional model of landforms from a two-dimensional topographic map, and will be able to interpret two- and three-dimensional topographic data.
It's a Gas! Or is it? (9 pages, 760k) (from the New Zealand American Submarine Ring of Fire 2005 Expedition)
Focus: Effects of temperature and pressure on solubility and phase state (Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students will be able to describe the effect of temperature and pressure on solubility of gases and solid materials; describe the effect of temperature and pressure on the phase state of gases; and infer explanations for observed chemical phenomena around deep-sea volcanoes that are consistent with principles of solubility and phase state.
How Does Your Magma Grow? (6 pages, 224k) (from the 2005 Galapagos: Where Ridge Meets Hotspot Expedition)
Focus: Hot spots and mid-ocean ridges (Physical Science)
In this activity, students will identify types of plate boundaries associated with movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates, compare and contrast volcanic activity associated with spreading centers and hot spots, describe processes which resulted in the formation of the Galapagos Islands, and describe processes that produce hydrothermal vents.
The Big Balancing Act (9 pages, 1.3Mb) (from the New Zealand American Submarine Ring of Fire 2005 Expedition)
Focus: Hydrothermal vent chemistry at subduction volcanoes (Chemistry/Earth Science)
Students will be able to define and describe hydrothermal circulation systems; explain the overall sequence of chemical reactions that occur in hydrothermal circulation systems; compare and contrast “black smokers” and “white smokers;” and make inferences about the relative significance of hydrothermal circulation systems to ocean chemical balance from data on chemical enrichment that occurs in these systems.
What's the Difference? (7 pages, 720k) (from the New Zealand American Submarine Ring of Fire 2005 Expedition)
Focus: Volcanic processes at convergent and divergent tectonic plate boundaries (Earth Science)
Students will be able to compare and contrast volcanoes at convergent and divergent plate boundaries; identify three geologic features that are associated with most volcanoes on Earth; and explain why some volcanoes erupt explosively while others do not.
Where There's Smoke, There's . . . (6 pages, 680k) (from the New Zealand American Submarine Ring of Fire 2005 Expedition)
Focus: Hydrothermal vent chemistry at subduction volcanoes (Chemistry)
Students will be able to use fundamental relationships between melting points, boiling points, solubility, temperature, and pressure to develop plausible explanations for observed chemical phenomena in the vicinity of subduction volcanoes.
It Looks Like Champagne (7 pages, 736k) (from the New Zealand American Submarine Ring of Fire 2005 Expedition)
Focus: Deep ocean carbon dioxide and global climate change (Chemistry/Earth Science)
Students will be able to interpret phase diagrams, and explain the meaning of “critical point” and “triple point;” define “supercritical fluid,” and will be able to describe two practical uses of supercritical carbon dioxide; and discuss the concept of carbon dioxide sequestration.
The Galapagos Spreading Center (8 pages, 480k) (from the 2002 Galapagos Rift Expedition)
Focus: Mid-Ocean Ridges (Earth Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe the processes involved in creating new seafloor at a mid-ocean ridge; students will investigate the Galapagos Spreading Center system; students will understand the different types of plate motion associated with ridge segments and transform faults.
Thar She Blows! (5 pages, 456k) (from the 2002 Galapagos Rift Expedition)
Focus: Hydrothermal vents
In this activity, students will demonstrate an understanding of how the processes that result in the formation of hydrothermal vents create new ocean floor; students will demonstrate an understanding of how the transfer of energy affects solids and liquids.
Chemosynthesis for the Classroom (6 pages, 464k) (from the 2002 Gulf of Mexico Expedition)
Focus: Chemosynthetic bacteria and succession in chemosynthetic communities (Chemistry/Biology)
In this activity, students will observe the development of chemosynthetic bacterial communities and will recognize that organisms modify their environment in ways that create opportunities for other organisms to thrive. Students will also be able to explain the process of chemosynthesis and the relevance of chemosynthesis to biological communities in the vicinity of cold seeps.
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.