Lesson Plans for the Russian-U.S. Arctic Census 2012 Expedition

Educators and scientists working with NOAA developed a lesson plan for students in Grades 7-8, with adaptations for students in Grades 5-6 and 9-12, that is specifically tied to the science behind the Russian – U.S. Arctic Census 2012 expedition. This lesson focuses on cutting-edge ocean exploration and research using state-of-the-art technologies. It is correlated with the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts, and includes a focus question, 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 background essays, logs, and other resources from the Russian – U.S. Arctic Census 2012 Expedition, as well as previous Ocean Explorer expeditions to the Arctic region, to supplement the lesson plans.

The lesson is available in a PDF format, and may be viewed and printed with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. To download the lesson plan, click on its title below. (Note: if you have problems downloading, right-click on the link and save the lesson to your desktop.)

Grades 7-8 (with adaptations for Grades 5-6 and 9-12)

Meet the Arctic Benthos (adapted from the 2002 Arctic Ocean expedition)
Focus: Benthic invertebrate groups in the Arctic Ocean
Students will explain how aspects of structure and function are involved with common feeding strategies used by benthic animals in the Arctic Ocean; discuss patterns in interdependent relationships between groups of animals in Arctic benthic communities; and discuss how changes in the Arctic environment may affect biodiversity in Arctic benthic communities.

 

Other Relevant Lesson Plans from NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program

Grades 5-6

Polar Bear Panic! (from the 2002 Arctic Exploration Expedition)
Focus: Climate change in the Arctic Ocean
Students identify the three realms of the Arctic Ocean, and describe the relationships among these realms; graphically analyze data on sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, and recognize a trend in these data; discuss possible causes for observed trends in Arctic sea ice, and infer the potential impact of these trends on biological communities in the Arctic.

Life in the Crystal Palace (from the 2002 Arctic Exploration Expedition)
Focus: Sea ice communities in the Arctic Ocean
Students identify major groups of organisms found in Arctic sea ice communities, describe major physical features of sea ice communities and how these features change during summer and winter, and explain how these changes affect biological activity within these communities. Students will also be able to describe interactions that take place among sea ice communities, and explain the importance of sea ice communities to Arctic ecosystems.

Jelly Critters (from the 2005 Hidden Ocean Expedition)
Focus- Gelatinous zooplankton in the Canada Basin
Students 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.

Three Cold Realms (from the 2005 Hidden Ocean Expedition)
Focus – Pelagic, benthic and sea ice realms
Students compare and contrast the pelagic, benthic and sea ice realms of the Arctic Ocean, name at least three organisms that are typical of each of these three realms, and explain how the pelagic, benthic and sea ice realms interact with each other.

 

Grades 7-8

Would You Like a Sample? (from the 2002 Arctic Exploration Expedition)
Focus: Sampling strategies for biological communities
Students identify the three realms of the Arctic Ocean, describe the relationships between these realms and discuss the advantages and limitations of sampling techniques to study biological communities.

Where Have All the Glaciers Gone? (from the 2005 Hidden Ocean Expedition)
Focus – Arctic climate change
Students describe how climate change is affecting sea ice, vegetation, and glaciers in the Arctic region, explain how changes in the Arctic climate can produce global impacts, and provide three examples of such impacts. Students will also be able to explain how a given impact resulting from climate change may be considered ‘positive’ as well as ‘negative’, and will provide at least one example of each.

Grades 9-12

Being Productive (from the 2002 Arctic Exploration Expedition)
Focus: Primary productivity and limiting factors in the Arctic Ocean
Students identify the three realms of the Arctic Ocean, and describe the relationships among these realms; identify major factors that limit primary productivity in the Arctic Ocean, and describe how these factors exert limiting effects. Given data on potentially limiting factors and primary productivity, students infer which factors are actually having a limiting effect.

Let’s Get to the Bottom (from the 2002 Arctic Exploration Expedition)
Focus: Factors that influence the composition of benthic communities in the deep Arctic Ocean
Students identify the three realms of the Arctic Ocean, describe the relationships among these realms; describe different species associations in a benthic community; infer probable feeding strategies used by benthic organisms and relate these strategies to sediment characteristics.

Message in the Bottles (from the 2002 Arctic Exploration Expedition)
Focus: Estimating primary productivity
Students identify the three realms of the Arctic Ocean, and describe the relationships among these realms; explain the relationships between gross primary productivity, net primary productivity, and respiration; and understand how oxygen production and consumption can be measured and used to estimate primary productivity in water bodies.

Current Events (from the 2002 Arctic Exploration Expedition)
Focus: Currents and water circulation in the Arctic Ocean
Students identify the primary driving forces for ocean currents and infer the type of water circulation to be expected in the Arctic Ocean, given information on temperature, salinity, and bathymetry.

What’s Eating You? (from the 2005 Hidden Ocean Expedition)
Focus: Trophic relationships in Arctic marine ecosystems
Students describe how ratios of stable nitrogen isotopes can be used to study trophic relationships between marine organisms, make inferences about trophic relationships between organisms and habitats, and compare and contrast organisms in sea ice, pelagic, and benthic communities in terms of feeding strategies and consequent stable nitrogen isotope ratios.

Getting to the Bottom (from the 2005 Hidden Ocean Expedition)
Focus – Benthic communities in the Canada Basin
Students identify major taxa that are dominant in deep benthic communities of the Arctic Ocean. Given distribution data for major taxa in different Arctic benthic communities, students identify patterns in the distribution of these taxa and infer plausible reasons for these patterns.

Burp Under the Ice (from the 2005 Hidden Ocean expedition)
Focus - Potential role of Arctic methane deposits in climate change
Students identify the natural processes that produce methane, describe where methane deposits are located in the Arctic region, explain how warmer climates may affect Arctic methane deposits, explain how the release of large volumes of methane might affect Earth’s climate, and describe how methane releases may have contributed to mass extinction events in Earth’s geologic history.

The Good the Bad and the Arctic (from the 2005 Hidden Ocean Expedition)
Focus – Social, economic and environmental consequences of Arctic climate change
Students identify and explain at least three lines of evidence that suggest the Arctic climate is changing, identify and discuss at least three social, three economic and three environmental consequences expected as a result of Arctic climate change, identify at least three climate-related issues of concern to Arctic indigenous peoples, and identify at least three ways in which Arctic climate change is likely to affect the rest of the Earth’s ecosystems.

Just Jelly (from the 2005 Hidden Ocean Expedition)
Focus: Water masses and gelatinous zooplankton in the Canada Basin
Students compare and contrast the feeding strategies of at least three different types of gelatinous zooplankton and explain why gelatinous zooplankton may function at several trophic levels within a marine food web. Given information on the vertical distribution of temperature in a water column, students make inferences about potential influences on the distribution of planktonic species in the water column.


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.

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