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.
Ocean Drifters (PDF, 300 kb)
Focus: Ocean Plankton
In this activity, students will define plankton, phytoplankton, and zooplankton; compare and contrast phytoplankton and zooplankton, and will identify at least three ways in which plankton are adapted for life in the open ocean.
Do You Have the Key? (PDF, 300 kb)
Focus: Classification and dichotomous keys (Life Science/Physical Science)
In this activity, students will be able to use a dichotomous key to classify a collection of objects and will construct a dichotomous key for a collection of organisms or other objects.
Staying Up (PDF, 300 kb)
Focus: buoyancy principles as they apply to ocean plankton (Life Science/Physical Science)
In this activity, students will explain Archimedes’ Principle; define plankton, phytoplankton, and zooplankton; and will describe at least three factors that affect the buoyancy of plankton. Students will also apply Archimedes’ Principle to construct an object that has a specified buoyancy.
It’s the Law! (PDF, 300 kb)
Focus: Gas Laws (Physical Science)
In this activity, students will be able to define the basic principles state in Boyle’s Law, Charles’ Law, Gay-Lussac’s Law, Henry’s Law, and Dalton’s Law and will be able to explain the application of each of these laws to observations or events related to SCUBA diving.
Outta Gas (PDF, 300 kb)
Focus: Gas Laws (Chemistry/Physics)
In this activity, students will define Boyle’s Law, Charles’ Law, Gay-Lussac’s Law, Henry’s Law, and Dalton’s Law and will be able to solve practical problems related to SCUBA diving.
Great Blobs of Jelly! (PDF, 300 kb)
Focus: Ocean Zooplankton (Biology)
In this activity, students will explain how zooplankters such as salps may have significant impact on global processes, calculate plankton densities from appropriate information on sampling procedures, and calculate carbon flux from experimental data.
Let’s Get Specific (PDF, 300 kb)
Focus: Speciation (Biology)
In this activity, students will explain two definitions of species, describe at least two factors that favor increased speciation, and compare and contrast sympatric and allopatric speciation. Students will also be able to locate and define Wallacea and Wallace’s Line and offer at least two possible explanations for the high degree of endemism in Wallacea.
The Census of Marine Life (PDF, 300 kb)
Focus: The Census of Marine Life (Biology)
In this activity, students will be able to describe the Census of Marine Life (CoML) and explain in general terms the CoML strategy for assessing and explaining the changing diversity, distribution and abundance of marine species from the past to the present, and for projecting the future of marine life. Students will also be able to use the Ocean Biogeographic Information System to retrieve information about ocean species from specific geographic areas.
Other Relevant Lesson Plans from NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program
Journey to the Unknown & Why Do We Explore
(10 pages, 596k) (from the 2002 Galapagos Rift Expedition)
Focus: Ocean Exploration
In this activity, students will experience the excitement of discovery and problem-solving to learn about organisms that live in extreme environments in the deep ocean and come to understand the importance of ocean exploration.
(PDF, 220Kb) (from the 2004 Operation Deep Scope Expedition)
Focus: Light-producing processes and organisms in deep-sea environments
In this activity, students compare and contrast chemiluminescence, bioluminescence, fluorescence, and phosphorescence. Given observations on materials that emit light under certain conditions, students infer whether the light-producing process is chemiluminescence, fluorescence, or phosphorescence. Students explain three ways in which the ability to produce light may be useful to deep-sea organisms and explain how scientists may be able to use light-producing processes in deep-sea organisms to obtain new observations of these organisms.
(5 pages, 269k) (from the Hidden Ocean, Arctic 2005 Expedition)
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.
Now You See Me, Now You Don’t
(5 pages, 281Kb) (from the Operation Deep Scope 2005 Expedition)
Focus (Life Science) Light, color, and camouflage in the deep ocean
In this activity, students will be able to explain light in terms of electromagnetic waves, and explain the relationship between color and wavelength; compare and contrast color related to wavelength with color perceived by biological vision systems; and explain how color and light may be important to deep-sea organisms, even under conditions of near-total darkness. Students will also be able to predict the perceived color of objects when illuminated by light of certain wavelengths.
(7 pages, 303Kb) (from the Operation Deep Scope 2005 Expedition)
Focus (Life Science/Physical Science) Polarization vision.
In this activity, students will be able to explain the meaning of polarized light, and will be able to identify three ways in which unpolarized light can become polarized; explain why some animals have polarization vision, and why humans do not have this ability; and discuss three ways in which polarization vision may be useful to marine organisms.
Come on Down!
(6 pages, 464k) (from the 2002 Galapagos Rift Expedition)
Focus: Ocean Exploration
In this activity, students will research the development and use of research vessels/vehicles used for deep ocean exploration; students will calculate the density of objects by determining the mass and volume; students will construct a device that exhibits neutral buoyancy.
A Matter of Density
(6 pages, 416k) (from the 2004 Mountains in the Sea Expedition)
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.
Who Has the Light?
(PDF, 200Kb) (from the 2004 Operation Deep Scope Expedition)
Focus: Bioluminescence in deep-sea organisms
In this activity, students compare and contrast chemiluminescence, bioluminescence, fluorescence, and phosphorescence. Students also explain at least three ways in which the ability to produce light may be useful to deep-sea organisms and explain how scientists may be able to use light-producing processes in deep-sea organisms to obtain new observations of these organisms.
It's a Gas! Or Is It?
(9 pages, 270Kb) (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)
In this lesson, 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.
Blinded By the Light!!
(6 pages, 460k) (from the Islands in the Stream 2002: Exploring Underwater Oases Expedition)
Focus: Physical Science - Absorption, Scattering, and Reflection of Light in the Deep Sea
In this activity, students will recognize that the colors they see are a result of the reflection of light and that other colors of light are absorbed; predict what color an object will appear when light of different colors is shined upon it; predict what color(s) will be produced when different colors of light are mixed; and identify the three primary colors and three secondary colors of light.
(6 pages, 464k) (from the Islands in the Stream 2002: Exploring Underwater Oases Expedition)
Focus: Biology - Adaptations of planktonic organisms in the ocean
In this activity, students will describe the characteristics of plankton; develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry; test the effects of different salinity and temperature on the vertical movement of a model of a planktonic organism; and calculate the velocity of the plankton model.
How Diverse is That?
(6 pages, 552k) (from the 2003 Windows to the Deep Expedition)
Focus: Quantifying biological diversity (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to discuss the meaning of biological diversity and will be able to compare and contrast the concepts of variety and relative abundance as they relate to biological diversity. Given abundance and distribution data of species in two communities, students will be able to calculate an appropriate numeric indicator that describes the biological diversity of these communities.
Where Is That Light Coming From?
(PDF, 208Kb) (from the 2004 Operation Deep Scope Expedition)
In this activity, students explain the role of luciferins, luciferases, and co-factors in bioluminescence and the general sequence of the light-emitting process. Additionally, students discuss the major types of luciferins found in marine organisms, define the lux operon and discuss at least three ways that bioluminescence may benefit deep-sea organisms. Students give an example of at least one organism that actually receives each of the benefits discussed.
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.