Lesson Plans for the Exploring the Hidden World of the Maritime Maya 2011 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 Exploring the Hidden World of the Maritime Maya 2011 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 correlated to the Framework for K-12 Science Education 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. Teachers are encouraged to use photo and video logs from the Exploring the Hidden World of the Maritime Maya 2011 Expedition, which are posted under the Photo and Video Log page 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

Limestone Supermarket (PDF, 767 Kb)
Focus: Lifeways of Mayans at Vista Alegre (Life Science/Earth Science/Social Studies)

Students discuss the maritime cultural landscape approach, describe some of the interactions between human activities and ecological resources, and explain how garbology may provide clues about these interactions; investigate lifeways in "mainstream" Maya culture during the four periods in which Vista Alegre was occupied, and make inferences about how these might have been different in Vista Alegre based on its geographic setting; use the engineering design process to infer ways that indigenous food sources might have been supplemented through human manipulation of the local environment; and discuss the potential role of maritime trading during each occupation period.

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Grades 7-8

What Happened to the Maya? (PDF, 704 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.

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Grades 9-12

Mapping a Maya Settlement (PDF, 737 Kb)
Focus: Archaeological Surveying (Mathematics/Earth Science)

Students discuss the maritime cultural landscape approach, describe some of the interactions between human activities and ecological resources, and explain how garbology may provide clues about these interactions; plot total station data to construct a simplified version of the Vista Alegre site; make inferences about how local hydrology might be related to anthropogenic features at the Vista Alegre site; and discuss how features of the site may reflect the influence of maritime trading activities.

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Other Relevant Lesson Plans from NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program

Grades 5-6

What’s a Karst?  (PDF, 547 Kb)
(from the Submerged New World 2009 Expedition)
Focus: Limestone landforms and aquifers (Physical Science/Earth Science)

Students compare and contrast igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, and name examples of each. Students will define karst landforms, describe typical features of these landforms, explain processes that shape them, and discuss their relevance to aquifers.

Shipwreck Explorers (PDF, 370 Kb)
(from the Lophelia II 2008 Expedition)
Focus: Marine archaeology (Physical Science)

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.

Grades 7-8

Paleo-Diving (PDF, 552 Kb)
(from the Exploring the Submerged New World 2009 Expedition)
Focus: Underwater Archaeology of Sinkholes (Physical Science/Archaeology)

Students will explain how sinkholes are formed, why they may be associated with paleoamerican settlements, and how artifacts retrieved from sinkholes may be interpreted.

We Arrived 10,000 Years Ago . . . (PDF, 591 Kb)
(from the Exploring the Submerged New World 2009 Expedition)
Focus: Lifeways of Paleoamericans (Archaeology/Anthropology)

Students will explain at least two ways that humans migrating from eastern Asia may have settled North and South America, and will make inferences about lifeways of paleoamericans based on an extant 10,000 year-old human culture in southern California.

Grades 9-12

The Puzzle of the Ice Age Americans (PDF, 1.1 Mb)
(from the Exploring the Submerged New World 2009 Expedition)
Focus: Origin of the first humans in the Americas (Anthropology, Earth Science)

Students will describe alternative theories for how the first humans came to the Americas and explain the evidence that supports or contradicts these theories, explain how exploration of a submerged portion of the North American west coast may provide additional insights about the origin of the first Americans, and describe the role of skepticism in scientific inquiry.

By Land or By Sea or Both? (PDF, 582 Kb)
(from the Exploring the Submerged New World 2009 Expedition)
Focus: Watercraft in Paleoamerican Migrations

Students will describe evidence that supports the idea that the initial settlement of North and South America involved watercraft, discuss types of watercraft that might have been involved in new world settlement, and explain at least three advantages and three disadvantages of coastal settlements compared to inland settlements.


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.