Lesson Plans for the Lophelia II 2010: Oil Seeps and Deep Reefs Expedition

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 Lophelia II 2010: Cold Seeps and Deep Reefs 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:

Diamond Icon Grades 5-6
Diamond Icon Grades 7-8
Diamond Icon Grades 9-12
Diamond Icon Other Relevant Lessons

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 Lophelia II 2010 expedition, which are 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 a PDF format, and may be viewed and printed with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader External Link. To download a lesson plan, 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.

Grades 5-6

Life on the Hardbottom (PDF, 2.2 Mb)
Focus: Hardbottom Biotopes in the Gulf of Mexico (Life Science)
Students will define and contrast the terms “biotope,” “habitat,” and “ecosystem;” explain what “hardgrounds” are; describe major biotopes associated with hardgrounds in the Gulf of Mexico; and give examples of at least three species associated with each biotope.

Oil Floats, Right? (PDF, 528 Kb)
Focus: Properties of oil in water (Physical Science)
Students will define the property of density, and explain how this property applies to the behavior of oil and water; compare and contrast solutions, mixtures, and emulsions, and explain how these properties apply when oil and water are combined; define dispersant and discuss how dispersants may influence the impacts of oil on biological organisms.

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Grades 7-8

Let’s Hit the Slopes! (PDF, 528 Kb)
Focus: Benthic communities on continental slopes in the Gulf of Mexico (Life Science)
Students will describe benthic communities found at selected sites on continental slopes in the Gulf of Mexico, and explain the possible ecological role of at least three species that are characteristic of these communities.

What’s So Special? (PDF, 520 Kb)
Focus: Biology and ecology of Lophelia corals (Life Science)
Students will describe the general biology and morphology of Lophelia corals, explain how these corals contribute to the development of complex communities, identify ways in which these corals are threatened by human activities, and discuss ways in which Lophelia communities are important to humans.

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Grades 9-12

What’s the Connection? (PDF, 556 Kb)
Focus: Relationship of hardground communities in the Gulf of Mexico to physical and chemical environmental features (Life Science/Chemistry)
Students will define hardgrounds and explain how they are formed in the Gulf of Mexico, and discuss the relationships between hydrocarbon seeps, chemosynthetic communities, and deep-water coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico.

Where’s the Oxygen? (PDF, 676 Kb)
Focus: Dissolved oxygen in the deep ocean (Chemistry/Life Science)
Students will discuss the influence of salinity and temperature on dissolved oxygen in seawater, identify and discuss at least three factors that may affect the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the ocean, and analyze dissolved oxygen measurements to prepare a profile of dissolved oxygen concentration in a water column.

Welcome to My Community! (PDF, 774 Kb)
Focus: Change detection in biological communities (Life Science/Mathematics)
Students will define the concept of a biological community; perform calculations to identify communities from biological surveys; and describe how biological surveys may be used to detect changes in deep-sea communities.

Van to the Ocean Floor (PDF, 732 Kb)
Focus: Deep-sea exploration (Life Science/Technology)
Students will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of remotely operated vehicles for ocean exploration, describe the general features of the Jason II robot, obtain data from Jason II missions, and analyze these data.

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Other Relevant Lesson Plans from NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program

Grades 5-6

Big Enough? (PDF, 964 Kb) (from the Lophelia II 2009 Expedition)
Focus: Buoyancy (Physical Science)
In this activity, students will be able to define buoyancy, mass, volume, and density, and explain the relationships between these properties. Given the mass and volume of an object, students will be able to calculate the minimum buoyancy required to keep the object afloat in seawater. Students will also be able to explain why objects in seawater are more buoyant than the same objects in fresh water.

The Robot Ranger (PDF, 1.1 Mb) (from the Lophelia II 2009 Expedition)
Focus: Robotic Analogues for Human Structures (Distance Estimation) (Life Science/Physical Science)
In this activity, students will describe how humans are able to estimate the distance to visible objects, and describe a robotic system with a similar capability.

Shipwreck Explorers (PDF, 299 Kb) (from the Lophelia II 2008 Expedition)
Focus: Marine archaeology (Physical Science)
In this activity, students use data about the location and types of artifacts recovered from a shipwreck site to draw inferences about the sunken ship and the people who were aboard.

Call to Arms (PDF, 329 Kb) (from the Lophelia II 2008 Expedition)
Focus: Robotic Analogues for Human Structures
In this activity, students will describe the types of motion found in the human arm, and describe four common robotic arm designs that mimic some or all of these functions.

Entering the Twilight Zone (PDF, 352k) (from the Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007)
Focus: Deep-sea habitats (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe major features of cold seep communities, list at least five organisms typical of these communities and infer probable trophic relationships within and between major deep-sea habitats. Students will also be able to describe the process of chemosynthesis in general terms, contrast chemosynthesis and photosynthesis, and describe major deep-sea habitats and list at least three organisms typical of each habitat.

Animals of the Fire Ice (PDF, 364k) (from the Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007)
Focus: Methane hydrate ice worms and hydrate shrimp (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to define and describe methane hydrate ice worms and hydrate shrimp, infer how methane hydrate ice worms and hydrate shrimp obtain their food, and infer how methane hydrate ice worms and hydrate shrimp may interact with other species in the biological communities of which they are part.

Deep Gardens (PDF, 331Kb PDF) (from the Cayman Islands Twilight Zone 2007 Expedition)
Focus: Comparison of deep-sea and shallow-water tropical coral communities (Life Science)
In this activity, students will compare and contrast deep-sea coral communities with their shallow-water counterparts, describe three types of coral associated with deep-sea coral communities, and explain three benefits associated with deep-sea coral communities. Students will explain why many scientists are concerned about the future of deep-sea coral communities.

Let’s Make a Tubeworm! (PDF, 464k) (from the 2002 Gulf of Mexico Expedition)
Focus: Symbiotic relationships in cold-seep communities (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe the process of chemosynthesis in general terms, contrast chemosynthesis and photosynthesis, describe major features of cold seep communities, and list at least five organisms typical of these communities. Students will also be able to define symbiosis, describe two examples of symbiosis in cold seep communities, describe the anatomy of vestimentiferans, and explain how these organisms obtain their food.

Chemists with No BacKbones (PDF, 356k) (from the 2003 Deep Sea Medicines Expedition)
Focus: Benthic invertebrates that produce pharmacologically-active substances (life science)
In this activity, students will be able to identify at least three groups of benthic invertebrates that are known to produce pharmacologically-active compounds and will describe why pharmacologically-active compounds derived from benthic invertebrates may be important in treating human diseases. Students will also be able to infer why sessile marine invertebrates appear to be promising sources of new drugs.

Keep Away (PDF, 276k) (from the 2006 Expedition to the Deep Slope)
Focus: Effects of pollution on diversity in benthic communities (Life Science)
In this activity, students will discuss the meaning of biological diversity and compare and contrast the concepts of variety and relative abundance as they relate to biological diversity. Given information on the number of individuals, number of species, and biological diversity at a series of sites, students will make inferences about the possible effects of oil drilling operations on benthic communities.

What’s In That Cake? (PDF, 276k) (from the 2006 Expedition to the Deep Slope)
Focus: Exploration of deep-sea habitats (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 the Gulf of Mexico. Students will also be able to describe and discuss at least three difficulties involved in studying deep-sea habitats and describe and explain at least three techniques scientists use to sample habitats, such as those found on the Gulf of Mexico.

Grades 7-8

Corrosion to Corals (PDF, 1.7 Mb) (from the Lophelia II 2009 Expedition)
Focus: Galvanic exchange and carbonate precipitation (Physical Science/Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe galvanic exchange and explain how this process produces electric currents. Given two dissimilar metals and information on their position in an Electromotive Series, students will be able to predict which of the metals will deteriorate if they are placed in a salt solution. Students will also be able to describe the effect of electric currents on the availability of metal ions, and how this might contribute to the growth of corals on shipwrecks.

Forests of the Deep Ocean (PDF, 300 Kb) (from the Lophelia II 2008 Expedition)
Focus: Morphology and ecological function in habitat-forming deep-sea corals (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe at least three ways in which habitat-forming deep-sea corals benefit other species in deep-sea ecosystems, explain at least three ways in which the physical form of habitat-forming deep-sea corals contributes to their ecological function, and explain how habitat-forming deep-sea corals and their associated ecosystems may be important to humans. Students will also be able to describe and discuss conservation issues related to habitat-forming deep-sea corals.

I, Robot, Can Do That! (PDF, 357k) (from the 2005 Lost City Expedition)
Focus: (Physical Science/Life Science) Underwater Robotic Vehicles for Scientific Exploration
In this activity, students will be able to describe and contrast at least three types of underwater robots used for scientific explorations, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using underwater robots in scientific explorations, and identify robotic vehicles best suited to carry out certain tasks.

Sonar Simulation (PDF, 308Kb) (from the Bonaire 2008: Exploring Coral Reef Sustainability with New Technologies Expedition)
Focus: Side scan sonar (Earth Science/Physical Science)
In this activity, students will describe side-scan sonar, compare and contrast side-scan sonar with other methods used to search for underwater objects, and make inferences about the topography of an unknown and invisible landscape based on systematic discontinuous measurements of surface relief.

Mapping the Aegean Seafloor (PDF, 292 Kb) (from the 2006 Phaedra Expedition)
Focus: Bathymetric mapping of deep-sea habitats
Students will create a two-dimensional topographic map given bathymetric survey data, create a three-dimensional model of landforms from a two-dimensional topographic map, and interpret two- and three-dimensional topographic maps.

Monsters of the Deep (PDF, 464k) (from the Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007)
Focus: Predator-prey relationships between cold-seep communities and the surrounding deep-sea environment (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe major features of cold seep communities, and list at least five organisms typical of these communities; and will be able to infer probable trophic relationships among organisms typical of cold-seep communities and the surrounding deep-sea environment. Students will also be able to describe the process of chemosynthesis in general terms, contrast chemosynthesis and photosynthesis, and describe at least five deep-sea predator organisms.

One Tough Worm (PDF, 476k) (from the Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007)
Focus: Physiological adaptations to toxic and hypoxic environments (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to explain the process of chemosynthesis, explain the relevance of chemosynthesis to biological communities in the vicinity of cold seeps, and describe three physiological adaptations that enhance an organism’s ability to extract oxygen from its environment. Students will also be able to describe the problems posed by hydrogen sulfide for aerobic organisms, and explain three strategies for dealing with these problems.

Let’s Go to the Video Tape! (PDF, 327Kb PDF) (from the Cayman Islands Twilight Zone 2007 Expedition)
Focus: Characteristics of biological communities on deepwater coral habitats (Life Science)
In this activity, students will recognize and identify some of the fauna groups found in deep-sea coral communities, infer possible reasons for observed distribution of groups of animals in deep-sea coral communities, and discuss the meaning of “biological diversity.” Students will compare and contrast the concepts of “variety” and “relative abundance” as they relate to biological diversity, and given abundance and distribution data of species, will be able to calculate an appropriate numeric indicator that describes the biological diversity of a community.

Treasures in Jeopardy (PDF, 278Kb PDF) (from the Cayman Islands Twilight Zone 2007 Expedition)
Focus: Conservation of deep-sea coral communities (Life Science)
In this activity, students will compare and contrast deep-sea coral communities with their shallow-water counterparts and explain at least three benefits associated with deep-sea coral communities. Students will also describe human activities that threaten deep-sea coral communities and describe actions that should be taken to protect resources of deep-sea coral communities.

Living by the Code (PDF, 400k) (from the 2003 Deep Sea Medicines Expedition)
Focus: Functions of cell organelles and the genetic code in chemical synthesis (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to explain why new drugs are needed to treat cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammation, and infections; infer why sessile marine invertebrates appear to be promising sources of new drugs; and explain the overall process through which cells manufacture chemicals. Students will also be able to explain why it may be important to synthesize new drugs, rather than relying on the natural production of drugs.

Life is Weird (PDF, 268k) (from the 2006 Expedition to the Deep Slope)
Focus: Biological organisms in cold seep communities (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe major features of cold seep communities, and list at least five organisms typical of these communities. Students will also be able to infer probable trophic relationships among organisms typical of cold-seep communities and the surrounding deep-sea environment, and describe the process of chemosynthesis in general terms, and contrast chemosynthesis and photosynthesis.

Grades 9-12

Off Base (PDF, 777 Kb) (from the Lophelia II 2009 Expedition)
Focus: pH, buffers, and ocean acidification (Physical Science)
In this activity, students will be able to define pH and buffer, and explain in general terms the carbonate buffer system of seawater; explain Le Chatelier’s Principle, predict how the carbonate buffer system of seawater will respond to a change in concentration of hydrogen ions; identify how an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide might affect the pH of the ocean; and discuss how this alteration in pH might affect biological organisms.

Sound Pictures (PDF, 1 Mb) (from the Lophelia II 2009 Expedition)
Focus: Sonar (Physical Science)
In this activity, students will explain the concept of sonar, describe the major components of a sonar system, explain how multibeam and sidescan sonar systems are useful to ocean explorers, and simulate sonar operation using a motion detector and a graphing calculator.

A Tale of Deep Corals (PDF, 766 Kb) (from the Lophelia II 2009 Expedition)
Focus: Deep-sea corals and hydrocarbon seeps (Life Science/Earth Science)
In this activity, students will analyze data on deep-sea corals and evaluate hypotheses to explain why these corals are often found in the vicinity of hydrocarbon seeps.

Cut-off Genes (PDF, 300 Kb) (from the Lophelia II 2008 Expedition)
Focus: Gene sequencing and phylogenetic expressions (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to explain the concept of gene-sequence analysis; and, given gene sequence data, draw inferences about phylogenetic similarities of different organisms.

The Robot Archaeologist (PDF, 518k) (from AUVfest 2008)
Focus: Marine Archaeology/Marine Navigation (Earth Science/Mathematics)
In this activity, students will design an archaeological survey strategy for an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV); calculate expected position of the AUV based on speed and direction of travel; and calculate course correction required to compensate for the set and drift of currents.

My Wet Robot (PDF, 300Kb) (from the Bonaire 2008: Exploring Coral Reef Sustainability with New Technologies Expedition)
Focus: Underwater Robotic Vehicles
In this activity, students will be able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using underwater robots in scientific explorations, identify key design requirements for a robotic vehicle that is capable of carrying out specific exploration tasks, describe practical approaches to meet identified design requirements, and (optionally) construct a robotic vehicle capable of carrying out an assigned task.

Where Am I? (PDF, 344 Kb) (from the 2003 Steamship Portland Expedition)
Focus: Marine navigation and position finding (Earth Science)
In this activity, students identify and explain at least seven different techniques used for marine navigation and position finding, explain the purpose of a marine sextant, and use an astrolabe to solve practical trigonometric problems.

Where’s My ‘Bot? (PDF, 492Kb) (from the Bonaire 2008: Exploring Coral Reef Sustainability with New Technologies Expedition)
Focus: Marine Navigation (Earth Science/Mathematics)
In this activity, students will estimate geographic position based on speed and direction of travel and integrate these calculations with GPS data to estimate the set and drift of currents.

The Big Burp: Where’s the Proof? (PDF, 364Kb) (from the Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007)
Focus: Potential role of methane hydrates in global warming (Earth Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe the overall events that occurred during the Cambrian explosion and Paleocene extinction events and will be able to define methane hydrates and hypothesize how these substances could contribute to global warming. Students will also be able to describe and explain evidence to support the hypothesis that methane hydrates contributed to the Cambrian explosion and Paleocene extinction events.

What’s the Big Deal? (PDF, 364k) (from the Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007)
Focus: Significance of methane hydrates (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to define methane hydrates and describe where these substances are typically found and how they are believed to be formed. Students will also describe at least three ways in which methane hydrates could have a direct impact on their own lives, and describe how additional knowledge of methane hydrates expected from the Blake Ridge expedition could provide human benefits.

Cool Corals (PDF, 476k) (from the Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007)
Focus: Biology and ecology of Lophelia corals (Life Science)
In this activity, students will describe the basic morphology of Lophelia corals and explain the significance of these organisms, interpret preliminary observations on the behavior of Lophelia polyps, and infer possible explanations for these observations. Students will also discuss why biological communities associated with Lophelia corals are the focus of major worldwide conservation efforts.

This Old Tubeworm (PDF, 484k) (from the Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007)
Focus: Growth rate and age of species in cold-seep communities
In this activity, students will be able to explain the process of chemosynthesis, explain the relevance of chemosynthesis to biological communities in the vicinity of cold seeps, and construct a graphic interpretation of age-specific growth, given data on incremental growth rates of different-sized individuals of the same species. Students will also be able to estimate the age of an individual of a specific size, given information on age-specific growth in individuals of the same species.

What's Down There? (PDF, 278 Kb) (from the Cayman Islands Twilight Zone 2007 Expedition)
Focus: Mapping Coral Reef Habitats
In this activity, students will be able to access data on selected coral reefs and manipulate these data to characterize these reefs, and explain the need for baseline data in coral reef monitoring programs. Students also will be able to identify and explain five ways that coral reefs benefit human beings, and identify and explain three major threats to coral reefs.

The Benthic Drugstore (PDF, 278 Kb) (from the Cayman Islands Twilight Zone 2007 Expedition)
Focus: Pharmacologically-active chemicals derived from marine invertebrates (Life Science/Chemistry)
In this activity, students will be able to identify at least three pharmacologically-active chemicals derived from marine invertebrates, describe the disease-fighting action of at least three pharmacologically-active chemicals derived from marine invertebrates, and infer why sessile marine invertebrates appear to be promising sources of new drugs.

Watch the Screen! (PDF, 278 Kb) (from the Cayman Islands Twilight Zone 2007 Expedition)
Focus: Screening natural products for biological activity (Life Science/Chemistry)
In this activity, students will be able to explain and carry out a simple process for screening natural products for biological activity, and will be able to infer why organisms such as sessile marine invertebrates appear to be promising sources of new drugs.

Now Take a Deep Breath (PDF, 278Kb) (from the Cayman Islands Twilight Zone 2007 Expedition)
Focus: Physics and physiology of SCUBA diving (Physical Science/Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to define Henry’s Law, Boyle’s Law, and Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures, and explain their relevance to SCUBA diving; discuss the causes of air embolism, decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis, and oxygen toxicity in SCUBA divers; and explain the advantages of gas mixtures such as Nitrox and Trimix and closed-circuit rebreather systems.

Biochemistry Detectives (PDF, 480 Kb) (from the 2002 Gulf of Mexico Expedition)
Focus: Biochemical clues to energy-obtaining strategies (Chemistry)
In this activity, students will be able to explain the process of chemosynthesis, explain the relevance of chemosynthesis to biological communities in the vicinity of cold seeps, and describe three energy-obtaining strategies used by organisms in cold-seep communities. Students will also be able to interpret analyses of enzyme activity and 13C isotope values to draw inferences about energy-obtaining strategies used by organisms in cold-seep communities.

Hot Food (PDF, 372Kb) (from the 2003 Gulf of Mexico Deep Sea Habitats Expedition)
Focus: Energy content of hydrocarbon substrates in chemosynthesis (Chemistry)
In this activity, students will compare and contrast photosynthesis and chemosynthesis as processes that provide energy to biological communities, and given information on the molecular structure of two or more substances, will make inferences about the relative amount of energy that could be provided by the substances. Students will also be able to make inferences about the potential of light hydrocarbons as an energy source for deepwater coral reef communities.

Living in Extreme Environments (PDF, 1 Mb) (from the 2003 Mountains in the Sea Expedition)
Focus: Biological Sampling Methods (Biological Science)
In this activity, students will understand the use of four methods commonly used by scientists to sample populations; students will understand how to gather, record, and analyze data from a scientific investigation; students will begin to think about what organisms need in order to survive; students will understand the concept of interdependence of organisms.

What Was for Dinner? (PDF, 400 Kb) (from the 2003 Life on the Edge Expedition)
Focus: Use of isotopes to help define trophic relationships (Life Science)
In this activity, students will describe at least three energy-obtaining strategies used by organisms in deep-reef communities and interpret analyses of 15N, 13C, and 34S isotope values.

Chemosynthesis for the Classroom
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.

How Diverse is That?
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.

C.S.I. on the Deep Reef (Chemotrophic Species Investigations, That Is)
Focus: Chemotrophic organisms (Life Science/Chemistry)
In this activity, students will describe at least three chemotrophic symbioses known from deep-sea habitats and will identify and explain at least three indicators of chemotrophic nutrition.


For More Information

Contact:
Paula Keener
Director, Education Programs
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

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