Recommended Lessons for Key "Why Do We Explore" Topics

Please note that while each of the following lessons is targeted toward a specific grade level, most can be adapted for use in other grades as well.

Ocean Exploration

Grades 5-6
Journey to the Unknown
Students will experience the excitement of discovery and problem-solving to learn what organisms could live in extreme environments in the deep-ocean, and will understand the importance of ocean exploration.
Hands-on activity: Posterize images and construct an ultraviolet LED poster illuminator.

Grades 7-8
Come on Down!
Students will research the development and use of research vessels/vehicles used for deep-ocean exploration; calculate the density of objects by determining the mass and volume; and construct a device that exhibits neutral buoyancy.
Hands-on activity: Construct an electronic force sensor.

Grades 9-12
Calling All Explorers
Students will learn what it means to be an explorer, both modern and historic; recognize that not all exploration occurs on land; understand the importance of curiosity, exploration, and the ability to document what one studies; gain insight into the vastness of unexplored places in the deep sea; and gain appreciation of science mentors and role models.
Hands-on activity: “Your Own Expedition of Discovery” (geocaching).

Climate Change

Grades 5-6
The Methane Circus
Students will describe the overall events that occurred during the “Cambrian explosion,” explain how methane hydrates may contribute to global warming, and describe the reasoning behind hypotheses that link methane hydrates with the Cambrian explosion.
Hands-on activity: Create model fossils of organisms that appeared during the Cambrian explosion.

Grades 7-8
Where Have All the Glaciers Gone?
Students will 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 will be able to provide three examples of such impacts. Students will also explain how a given impact resulting from climate change may be considered ‘positive’ as well as ‘negative’, and will be able to provide at least one example of each.
Hands-on activity: Make a photocube showing changes in glaciers.

Grades 9-12
History’s Thermometers
Students will explain the concept of paleoclimatological proxies, learn how oxygen isotope ratios are related to water temperature, and interpret data on oxygen isotope ratios to make inferences about climate and climate change in the geologic past.
Hands-on activity: An oceanographic proxy—make a conductivity meter.


Grades 5-6
Animals of the Fire Ice
Students will 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.
Hands-on activity: Model a methane hydrate molecule.

Grades 7-8
Oceans of Energy
Students will describe forms of energy, explain how each form is used by humans, and discuss at least three ways that energy can be obtained from the ocean.
Hands-on activity: Build a simple turbine.

Grades 9-12
What’s the Big Deal?
Students will define methane hydrates and describe where these substances are typically found and how they are believed to be formed. Students will also 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 could provide human benefits.
Hands-on activity: Construct a methane hydrate molecule.

Human Health

Grades 5-6
Students will describe at least three ways in which microorganisms benefit people, describe aseptic procedures, and obtain and culture a bacterial sample on a nutrient medium.
Hands-on activity: Bacteria culture.

Grades 7-8
What Killed the Seeds?
Students will explain and carry out a simple process for studying the biological effects of chemicals and will be able to infer why organisms such as sessile marine invertebrates appear to be promising sources of new drugs.
Hands-on activity: Bioassay.

Grades 9-12
Watch the Screen
Students will be able to explain and carry out a simple process for screening natural products for biological activity, and will be able to infer why organisms such as sessile marine invertebrates appear to be promising sources of new drugs.
Hands-on activity: Screening plant products for antibacterial properties.

Ocean Health

Grades 5-6
Build Your Own Ecosystem
Students will identify key functions that are present in healthy ocean ecosystems, and discuss how these functions are met by living and non-living components in a model aquatic ecosystem.
Hands-on activity: Build an ecosystem in a bottle.

Grades 7-8
Stressed Out!
Students will identify stresses that threaten the health of ocean ecosystems, explain natural and human-caused processes that contribute to these stresses, and discuss actions that may be taken to reduce them.
Hands-on activity: Experiments with a tabletop biosphere.

Grades 9-12
Off Base
Students will define pH and buffer, explain in general terms the carbonate buffer system of seawater, explain Le Chatelier’s Principle, predict how the carbonate buffer system of seawater will respond to a change in concentration of hydrogen ions, identify how an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide might affect the pH of the ocean, and discuss how this alteration in pH might affect biological organisms.
Hands-on activity: Experiment with pH buffers.

For More Information Contact:

Paula Keener
Education Director
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research