Lesson Plans for the Cradle of the Earthquake: Exploring the Underwater San Andreas Fault 2010 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 Cradle of the Earthquake: Exploring the Underwater San Andreas Fault 2010 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)

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 Cradle of the Earthquake: Exploring the Underwater San Andreas Fault 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. 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

Puzzle of the Plates (PDF, 720 KB)
Focus: Plate Tectonics (Earth Science)

Students will describe the motion of tectonic plates, compare and contrast three typical boundary types that occur between tectonic plates, describe the motion of plates at the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and explain why these motions may be associated with earthquakes and tsunamis.

The Robot Fisherman (PDF, 1.2 MB)
Focus: Underwater Robotic Vehicles (Physical Science)

Students will discuss advantages and disadvantages of using underwater robots in scientific explorations, identify key design requirements for a robotic vehicle that is capable of observing bottom-dwelling fishes, and interpret results from a robot-based fish survey.

(top)

Grades 7-8

Life is Weird (PDF, 544 KB)
Focus: Biological organisms in cold seep communities (Life Science)

Students will describe major features of cold seep communities, and list at least five organisms typical of these communities. Students will also infer probable trophic relationships among organisms typical of cold-seep communities and the surrounding deep-sea environment, describe the process of chemosynthesis in general terms, and contrast chemosynthesis and photosynthesis.

Sonar Simulation (PDF, 524 KB)
Focus: Side scan sonar (Earth Science/Physical Science)

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.

(top)

Grades 9-12

Quake Clues (PDF, 720 KB)
Focus: Sediments as earthquake proxies (Earth Science)

Students will define and describe turbidites, explain the concept of earthquake proxies, and interpret model sediment cores.

Whole Lotta Shaking Going On (PDF, 780 KB)
Focus: Earthquake Prediction (Earth Science)

Students will discuss how stresses between tectonic plates can produce earthquakes, describe approaches and limitations to earthquake prediction, and use a model “earthquake machine” to explore hypotheses about earthquakes.

Sound Pictures (PDF, 554 KB)
Focus: Sonar (Physical Science)

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.

Living on the Ridge (Life Science) (PDF, 555 KB)
Focus: Cold seep communities on Hydrate Ridge

Students will define methane hydrates, explain how they are formed, describe biological communities associated with Hydrate Ridge, and discuss some of the adaptations found among organisms that inhabit these communities.

(top)

Other Relevant Lesson Plans from NOAA's Ocean Exploration Program

Grades 5-6

When Plates Collide (PDF, 1.1 MB) (from the INSPIRE: Chile Margin 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Plate Tectonics - Movement of plates, results of plate movement, and the Chile Triple Junction


Students will describe the motion of tectonic plates, compare and contrast three typical boundary types that occur between tectonic plates, describe the plate boundaries that occur and the Chile Triple Junction, and explain why a variety of chemosynthetic communities are expected to occur in this area.

Call to Arms (PDF, 756 KB) (from the Bermuda: Search for Deep Water Caves 2009 Expedition)
Focus: Buoyancy (Physical Science)

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.

The Robot Ranger (PDF, 964 KB) (from the Lophelia II 2009: Deepwater Coral Expedition: Reefs, Rigs, and Wrecks 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.

Entering the Twilight Zone (PDF, 468 KB) (from the 2002 Gulf of Mexico Expedition)
Focus: Deep-sea habitats (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 infer probable trophic relationships within and between major deep-sea habitats. Students will also be able to describe in 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.

InVENT a Deep-Sea Invertebrate (PDF, 460 KB) (from the 2002 Galapagos Rift Expedition)
Focus: Galapagos Rift Ecosystem - Structure and Function in Living Systems

In this activity, students will design an invertebrate capable of living near deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and in doing so, will learn about the unique adaptations that organisms must have in order to survive in the extreme environments of the deep sea.

Let’s Make a Tubeworm! (PDF, 464 KB) (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.

Animals of the Fire Ice (PDF, 364 KB) (from the 2003 Windows to the Deep Expedition)
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.

(top)

Grades 7-8

Mapping the Deep Ocean Floor (PDF, 1.5 MB) (from the INSPIRE: Chile Margin 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Bathymetric Mapping

Students will create a two-dimensional topographic map from bathymetric survey data, create a three-dimensional model of seafloor topography from a two-dimensional topographic map, and will be able to interpret two- and three-dimensional topographic data.

I, Robot, Can Do That! (PDF, 315 KB) (from the Lost City 2005 Expedition)
Focus: Underwater Robotic Vehicles for Scientific Exploration (Physical Science/Life Science)

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.

(top)

Grades 9-12

Tools of Discovery - CTD (PDF, 1.5 MB) (from the INDEX SATAL 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Technology for deep ocean exploration: CTD (Chemistry/Earth Science)

Students will describe typical effects of hydrothermal vents, volcanoes, and cold seeps on chemical and physical parameters of seawater; explain how oceanographers can use CTD data to locate these geologic features; and analyze data from CTD casts for the presence of anomalies.

Tools of Discovery Multibeam Sonar (PDF, 1.6 MB) (from the INDEX SATAL 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Technology for deep ocean exploration: Multibeam Sonar (Earth Science/Physical Science)

Students will describe multibeam sonar, discuss the advantages of multibeam sonar bathymetry compared to two-dimensional topographic bathymetry, and interpret three-dimensional multibeam bathymetric data.

Tools of Discovery - Remotely Operated Vehicles (PDF, 1.3 MB) (from the INDEX SATAL 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Technology for deep ocean exploration: Remotely Operated Vehicles (Earth Science/Physical Science)

Students will describe systems and capabilities of science-class remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), typical applications and limitations of imagery obtained with ROVs, and use ROV imagery to make inferences about deep ocean habitats.

The Ridge Exploring Robot (PDF, 1.6 MB) (from the INSPIRE: Chile Margin 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Autonomous Underwater Vehicles/Marine Navigation

Students will explain a three-phase strategy that uses an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to locate, map, and photograph previously undiscovered hydrothermal vents, design a survey program to provide a photomosaic of a hypothetical hydrothermal vent field, and calculate the expected position of the AUV based on speed and direction of travel.

The Tell-Tale Plume (PDF, 1.2 MB) (from the INSPIRE: Chile Margin 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Hydrothermal Vent Chemistry

Students will describe hydrothermal vents, identify changes that they cause to the physical and chemical properties of seawater, and use oceanographic data to recognize a probable plume from hydrothermal activity.

Reduced Fare (PDF, 1 MB) (from the INSPIRE: Chile Margin 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Deep-Sea Reducing Environments

Students will describe oxidation and reduction, explain the meaning of “reducing environment,” give at least three examples of deep-sea reducing environments, and demonstrate a flow of electric current produced by a redox reaction.

My Wet Robot (PDF, 300 KB) (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.

Chemosynthesis for the Classroom (PDF, 274 KB) (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.

Where's My 'Bot? (PDF, 492 KB) (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 Expedition)
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.

The Census of Marine Life (PDF, 300 KB) (from the 2007: Exploring the Inner Space of the Celebes Sea expedition]
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.

This Life Stinks (PDF, 276 KB) (from the 2003 Windows to the Deep Expedition)
Focus: Methane-based chemosynthetic processes (Physical Science)

In this activity, students will be able to define the process of chemosynthesis, and contrast this process with photosynthesis. Students will also explain the process of methane-based chemosynthesis and explain the relevance of chemosynthesis to biological communities in the vicinity of cold seeps.


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.