Lesson Plans for the Deepwater Canyons 2012: Pathways to the Abyss 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 Deepwater Canyons 2012 - Pathways to the Abyss 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 (Chemical, Biological, Earth, and Physical Science)
Diamond Icon Other Relevant Lessons

Activities are correlated with A Framework for K-12 Science Education (in preparation for the Next Generation Science Standards); the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts; and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics where appropriate. Lessons 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 Deepwater Canyons 2012 - Pathways to the Abyss expedition 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

Design a Benthic Lander! (PDF, 715 Kb)
Focus: Buoyancy (Physical Science); Engineering Design
Students calculate buoyant forces that would be expected to act on hypothetical benthic landers; and design and build model benthic landers with specified characteristics using the engineering design process.

Grades 7-8

Life is Weird (PDF, 640 Kb)
(adapted from the 2003 Windows to the Deep Expedition)
Focus: Biological organisms in cold-seep communities (Life Science)
Students describe major features of cold-seep communities, including at least five organisms typical of these communities; infer probable trophic relationships among organisms typical of cold-seep communities and the surrounding deep-sea environment; describe in the process of chemosynthesis in general terms; and contrast chemosynthesis and photosynthesis.

Grades 9-12

Feeding in the Flow (PDF, 683 Kb)
(adapted from the 2003 Charleston Bump Expedition)
Focus: Effect of water currents on food capture in corals (Life Science)
Students describe at least two ways in which current flow may affect food capture by particle-feeding organisms; explain how interactions between current flow and the morphology of a particle-feeding organism may affect the organism’s ability to capture food; and identify at least two environmental factors in addition to current flow that may affect the morphology of reef-building corals.

Other Relevant Lesson Plans from NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program

Grades 5-6

The Big Burp: A Bad Day in the Paleocene
(from the 2003 Windows to the Deep Expedition)
Focus: Global warming and the Paleocene extinction (Earth Science)

Students describe the overall events that occurred during the Paleocene extinction event, describe the processes that are believed to result in global warming, and infer how a global warming event could have contributed to the Paleocene extinction event.

Animals of the Fire Ice
(from The NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection - Volume 1: Why Do We Explore?)
Focus: Methane hydrate ice worms and hydrate shrimp (Life Science)

Students 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.

A Piece of Cake
(from the 2003 Charleston Bump Expedition)
Focus: Spatial heterogeneity in deep-water coral communities (Life Science)

Students explain what a habitat is, describe at least three functions or benefits that habitats provide, and describe some habitats that are typical of deep-water hard bottom communities. Students will also be able to explain how organisms, such as deep-water corals and sponges, add to the variety of habitats in areas such as the Charleston Bump.

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Grades 7-8

How Am I Supposed to Eat THAT?
(from the 2003 Charleston Bump Expedition)
Focus: Feeding adaptations among benthic organisms (Life Science)

Students describe at least three nutritional strategies used by benthic organisms typical of deep-water coral communities and describe physical adaptations associated with at least three nutritional strategies used by benthic organisms.

Mapping the Deep Ocean Floor
(from The NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection – Volume 2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Bathymetric mapping (Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students explain the advantages of multibeam sonar, and its role in the exploration strategy used aboard the Okeanos Explorer; and use data from the Okeanos Explorer to create a bathymetric map.

I, Robot, Can Do That!
(from the Lessons from the Deep: Exploring the Gulf of Mexico's Deep-Sea Ecosystems Education Materials Collection)
Focus - Underwater robotic vehicles for scientific exploration (Physical Science)

Students 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 given a specific exploration task, identify robotic vehicles best suited to carry out this task.

Grades 9-12

Cool Corals
(from the 2003 Life on the Edge: Exploring Deep-Ocean Habitats Expedition)
Focus: Biology and ecology of Lophelia corals (Life Science)

Students describe the basic morphology of Lophelia corals and explain the significance of these organisms, interpret preliminary observations on the behavior of Lophelia polyps, infer possible explanations for these observations, and discuss why biological communities associated with Lophelia corals are the focus of major worldwide conservation efforts.

What’s the Big Deal?
(from the 2003 Windows to the Deep Expedition)
Focus: Significance of methane hydrates (Life Science)

Students define methane hydrates, describe where these substances are typically found and how they are believed to be formed, 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.

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

Students 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.

How Diverse is That?
(from the 2003 Windows to the Deep Expedition)
Focus: Quantifying biological diversity (Life Science)

Students 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.

Keep It Complex!
(from the 2003 Charleston Bump Expedition)
Focus: Effects of habitat complexity on biological diversity (Life Science)

Students describe the significance of complexity in benthic habitats to organisms that live in these habitats and will describe at least three attributes of benthic habitats that can increase the physical complexity of these habitats. Students will also be able to give examples of organisms that increase the structural complexity of their communities and infer and explain relationships between species diversity and habitat complexity in benthic communities.

Tools for Classroom Explorers – How to Use Multibeam Sonar Data
(from the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition)
Focus: Multibeam sonar data and exploration activities during the NOAA Ship
Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition missions (Earth Science)
Students describe multibeam sonar, explain why the velocity of sound in water must be measured before maps can be created with the Okeanos Explorer’s multibeam sonar system, discuss the advantages of multibeam sonar bathymetry compared to two-dimensional topographic bathymetry, and interpret three-dimensional multibeam data of underwater features mapped by the Okeanos Explorer.

Okeanos Explorer Multibeam Sonar Supplemental Datasheet #1 for Cruise 12.02 (from the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition)
Focus: Multibeam sonar data interpretation (Earth Science)

Students interpret three-dimensional multibeam data of underwater features mapped by the Okeanos Explorer during the Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition.

Tools for Classroom Explorers – How to Use CTD Data
(from the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition)
Focus: CTD data and exploration activities during the NOAA Ship
Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition (Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students define "CTD" and explain how this instrument is used aboard the Okeanos Explorer; explain how relationships between temperature, salinity, pressure, and density in seawater are useful to ocean explorers; and use data from the Okeanos Explorer to create and interpret graphs of temperature, salinity, and depth.

Okeanos Explorer CTD Supplemental Datasheet #1 for Cruise 12.02
(from the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition)
Focus: CTD data interpretation (Earth Science)

Students interpret CTD data collected by the Okeanos Explorer during the Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition.

Tools for Classroom Explorers – How to Use ROV Imagery
(from the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition)
Focus: ROV imagery and exploration activities during the NOAA Ship
Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition (Earth Science)
Students will describe typical applications and limitations of imagery obtained with ROVs, demonstrate how lasers may be used to calibrate images for size and distance measurements, and analyze ROV imagery from the Okeanos Explorer to make inferences about deep-ocean habitats and organisms.

Okeanos Explorer ROV Imagery Supplemental Datasheet #1 for Cruise 12.02 (from the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition)
Focus: ROV imagery interpretation (Earth Science)

Students interpret ROV imagery collected by the Okeanos Explorer during the Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition.


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.