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 this mission. These lesson plans focus on cutting-edge ocean exploration and research using state-of-the-art technologies.
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 lessons, complete with compelling images and video, will be sent back each day from sea. Teachers are encouraged to use the daily logs from this mission, which are posted on this site, to supplement the lessons.
Read a description of each lesson and/or download them to your computer. All of the lessons 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 Biggest Plates on Earth (6 pages, 292k)
Focus: Plate tectonics - movement of plates, results of plate movement, and magnetic anomalies at spreading centers (Physical Science/Earth Science)
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, and describe plate boundaries and tectonic activity in the vicinity of the Kermadec Arc.
Unexplored! (10 pages, 302k)
Focus: Scientific exploration of deep-sea volcanoes (Life Science/Physical Science/Earth Science)
In this activity, 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 Kermadec Arc.
Volcano Friends (7 pages, 283k)
Focus: Ecological impacts of volcanism in the Mariana Islands (Life Science/Earth Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe at least three beneficial impacts of volcanic activity on marine ecosystems, and will be able to explain the overall tectonic processes that cause volcanic activity along the Kermadec Arc. .
It's a Gas! Or Is It? (11 pages, 309k)
Focus: Effects of temperature and pressure on solubility and phase state (Physical Science/Earth Science)
In this activity, 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.
What's the Difference? (8 pages, 292k)
Focus: Volcanic processes at convergent and divergent tectonic plate boundaries (Earth Science)
In this activity, 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 ... (9 pages, 329k)
Focus: Hydrothermal vent chemistry at subduction volcanoes (Chemistry)
In this activity, 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 (10 pages, 328k)
Focus: Deep ocean carbon dioxide and global climate change (Chemistry/Earth Science)
In this activity, 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.
Going to Extremes (11 pages, 416k)
Focus - Archaea (Biology)
In this activity, students will be able to define “lipid biomarkers,” and explain what the presence of certain biomarkers signifies; describe Archaea and explain why these organisms are often considered to be unusual, and contrast Archaea with bacteria and eukaryotes. Students will also be able to define methanogen and methanotroph, explain the relevance of these terms to Archaea, and discuss the potential significance of Archaea in hydrothermal communities of the Kermadec Arc.
Other Relevant Lessons from NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program
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) (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Expedition)
Focus: Hydrothermal vent ecology and transfer of energy among organisms that live near vents (Physical Science/Earth Science/Biology)
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.
Let’s Go to the Video Tape! (15 pages; 332k) (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Expedition)
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) (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Expedition)
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) (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Expedition)
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) (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Expedition)
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; 312 k) (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Expedition)
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.
Mystery of the Megaplume (11 pages; 324 k) (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Expedition)
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 Big Balancing Act (9 pages, 383Kb) (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Expedition)
Focus: Hydrothermal vent chemistry at subduction volcanoes (Chemistry/Earth Science)
In this activity, students will be able to define and describe hydrothermal circulation systems; explain the overall sequence of chemical reactions that occur in hydrothermal circulation systems; and compare and contrast “black smokers” and “white smokers.” Given data on chemical enrichment that occurs in hydrothermal circulation systems, students will be able to make inferences about the relative significance of these systems to ocean chemical balance compared to terrestrial runoff.