Lesson Plans for the Submarine Ring of Fire 2012: Northeastern Lau Basin 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 Submarine Ring of Fire 2012: Northeastern Lau Basin 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

Activities are correlated with the A Framework for K-12 Science Education External Link(in preparation for the Next Generation Science Standards External Link), the Common Core State Standards External Link for English Language Arts and Mathematics and the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts External Link. They 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 background essays, logs, and other resources from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2012: Northeastern Lau Basin Expedition, as well as previous Ocean Explorer expeditions to the region, 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

The Mysterious Microbial Mats (PDF, 500 Kb)
Focus: Ecological role of microbial mats in hydrothermal vent ecosystems (Life Science)
Students plan an investigation using a model ecosystem to explain some of the components of an anaerobic ecosystem, and construct explanations for the potential role of microbial mats in hydrothermal vent ecosystems.

Grades 7-8

Boiling Hot (PDF, 500 Kb)
Focus: Effects of temperature and pressure on solubility and phase state (Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students use conceptual models of matter to explain the effect of temperature and pressure on solubility and phase state, and construct explanations for observed chemical phenomena around deep-sea volcanoes that are consistent with principles of solubility and phase state.

Grades 9-12

The Magma Factory (PDF, 800 Kb)
Focus: Volcanic processes at convergent tectonic plate boundaries (Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students analyze and interpret data to construct explanations for processes that form volcanoes at convergent tectonic plate boundaries, and for the role of water in these processes.

Other Relevant Lesson Plans from NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program

Grades 5-6

The Biggest Plates on Earth (from the New Zealand America Submarine Ring of Fire 2007 expedition)
Focus: Plate tectonics - movement of plates, results of plate movement, and magnetic anomalies at spreading centers (Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students describe the motion of tectonic plates and differentiate between three typical boundary types that occur between tectonic plates; infer what type of boundary exists between two tectonic plates; and describe plate boundaries and tectonic activity in the vicinity of the Kermadec Arc.

Unexplored! (from the New Zealand America Submarine Ring of Fire 2007 expedition)
Focus: Scientific exploration of deep-sea volcanoes (Life Science/Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students compare and contrast submarine volcanoes at convergent and divergent plate boundaries; infer the kinds of living organisms that may be found around hydrothermal vents; describe three ways in which scientists may prepare to explore areas that are practically unknown; and explain two types of primary production that may be important to biological communities around hydrothermal vents in the Kermadec Arc.

The Volcano Factory (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 expedition)
Focus: Volcanism on the Mariana Arc (Earth Science)
Students explain the tectonic processes that result in the formation of the Mariana Arc and the Mariana Trench, and explain why the Mariana Arc is one of the most volcanically active regions on Earth.

Living With the Heat (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 expedition) Focus: Hydrothermal vent ecology and transfer of energy among organisms that live near vents (Life Science/Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students describe how hydrothermal vents are formed and characterize the physical conditions at these sites; explain what chemosynthesis is and contrast this process with photosynthesis; identify autotrophic bacteria as the basis for food webs in hydrothermal vent communities; and describe common food pathways between organisms typically found in hydrothermal vent communities.

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Grades 7-8

Volcano Friends (from the New Zealand America Submarine Ring of Fire 2007 expedition)
Focus: Ecological impacts of volcanism in the Mariana Islands (Life Science/Earth Science)
Students describe at least three beneficial impacts of volcanic activity on marine ecosystems, and explain the overall tectonic processes that cause volcanic activity along the Kermadec Arc.

It's Going to Blow Up! (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 expedition)
Focus: Volcanism on the Pacific Ring of Fire (Earth Science)
Students describe the processes that produce the Submarine Ring of Fire; explain the factors that contribute to explosive volcanic eruptions; identify at least three benefits that humans derive from volcanism; describe the primary risks posed by volcanic activity in the United States; and identify the volcano within the continental U.S. that is considered most dangerous.

What's for Dinner? (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 expedition)
Focus: Sources of nutrition for biological communities associated with volcanoes of the Mariana Arc (Life Science)
Students compare and contrast photosynthesis and chemosynthesis as sources of primary production for biological communities; give at least three examples of organisms that live near hydrothermal vent systems; and describe two sources of primary production observed in biological communities associated with volcanoes of the Mariana Arc.

Friendly Volcanoes (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2004 expedition)
Focus: Ecological impacts of volcanism in the Mariana Islands (Life Science/Earth Science)
Students describe at least three beneficial impacts of volcanic activity on marine ecosystems and explain the overall tectonic processes that cause volcanic activity along the Mariana Arc.

Grades 9-12

What's the Difference? (from the New Zealand America Submarine Ring of Fire 2007 expedition)
Focus: Volcanic processes at convergent and divergent tectonic plate boundaries (Earth Science)
Students compare and contrast volcanoes at convergent and divergent plate boundaries; identify three geologic features that are associated with most volcanoes on Earth; and explain why some volcanoes erupt explosively while others do not.

Where There's Smoke, There's ...  (from the New Zealand America Submarine Ring of Fire 2007 expedition)
Focus: Hydrothermal vent chemistry at subduction volcanoes (Chemistry)
Students use fundamental relationships between melting points, boiling points, solubility, temperature, and pressure to develop plausible explanations for observed chemical phenomena in the vicinity of subduction volcanoes.

It Looks Like Champagne (from the New Zealand America Submarine Ring of Fire 2007 expedition)
Focus: Deep ocean carbon dioxide and global climate change (Chemistry/Earth Science)
Students interpret phase diagrams, and explain the meaning of “critical point” and “triple point”; define “supercritical fluid,” and describe two practical uses of supercritical carbon dioxide; and discuss the concept of carbon dioxide sequestration.

Going to Extremes (from the New Zealand America Submarine Ring of Fire 2007 expedition)
Focus: Archaea (Biology)
Students define “lipid biomarkers,” and explain what the presence of certain biomarkers signifies; describe Archaea and explain why these organisms are often considered to be unusual, and contrast Archaea with bacteria and eukaryotes; define methanogen and methanotroph, explaining the relevance of these terms to Archaea; and discuss the potential significance of Archaea in hydrothermal communities of the Kermadec Arc.

Where Did They Come From? (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 expedition)
Focus: Species variation in hydrothermal vent communities (Life Science)
Students define and describe biogeographic provinces of hydrothermal vent communities; identify and discuss processes contributing to isolation and species exchange between hydrothermal vent communities; and discuss characteristics that may contribute to the survival of species inhabiting hydrothermal vent communities.

Hydrothermal Vent Challenge (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 expedition)
Focus: Chemistry of hydrothermal vents (Chemistry)
Students define hydrothermal vents and explain the overall processes that lead to their formation; explain the origin of mineral-rich fluids associated with hydrothermal vents; explain how “black smokers” and “white smokers” are formed; and hypothesize how properties of hydrothermal fluids might be used to locate undiscovered hydrothermal vents.

Roots of the Mariana Arc (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 expedition)
Focus: Seismology and geological origins of the Mariana Arc (Earth Science)
Students explain the processes of plate tectonics and volcanism that resulted in the formation of the Mariana Arc and describe, compare, and contrast S waves and P waves; explain how seismic data recorded at different locations can be used to determine the epicenter of an earthquake; and infer a probable explanation for the existence of ultra-low velocity zones.

Mystery of the Megaplume (from the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 expedition)
Focus: Hydrothermal vent chemistry (Chemistry/ Earth Science/ Physical Science)
Students describe hydrothermal vents and characterize vent plumes in terms of physical and chemical properties; describe tow-yo operations and how data from these operations can provide clues to the location of hydrothermal vents; and interpret temperature anomaly data to recognize a probable plume from a hydrothermal vent.


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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