Lesson Plans for the Galapalgos Rift Expedition 2011

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 Galápagos Rift Expedition 2011. 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

In addition to being tied to the National Science Education Standards 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. 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 daily logs from the
Galápagos Rift Expedition 2011, which are 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. 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 Okeanos Explorer Atlas (PDF, 1.1 Mb)
Focus: Time, speed, distance, and velocity (Physical Science)
Students define velocity, and explain why this is a vector quantity; use the Okeanos Explorer Atlas to obtain information about position and movement of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer; and calculate velocity from information about geographic position at two different times.

A Hydrothermal AdVENTure (PDF, 888 Kb)
Focus: Hydrothermal vents (Earth Science)
Students explain the overall structure of hydrothermal vents and how they are related to the motion of tectonic plates, and will create a model of a hydrothermal vent.

(top)

Grades 7-8

But Why Is It Important to ME? (PDF, 796 Kb)
Focus: Human benefits from exploration of hydrothermal vent ecosystems (Life Science/Physical Science)
Students will explain at least three ways in which exploration of hydrothermal vent ecosystems can provide direct benefits to humans and will create presentations to share this information with school audiences.

The Oceanographic Yo-Yo (PDF, 868 Kb)
Focus: Using ocean chemistry to locate hydrothermal vents (Physical Science)
Students explain the effects of hydrothermal vents on chemical and physical parameters of seawater, how oceanographers can use these effects to locate hydrothermal vents, and describe some of the instruments that oceanographers use to detect chemical clues that suggest the presence of hydrothermal vents.

(top)

Grades 9-12

We’ve Got Plumes! (PDF, 1.5 Mb)
Focus: Hydrothermal Vent Chemistry (Earth Science/Chemistry)
Students describe hydrothermal vents; explain how oxidation reduction potential and light-scattering sensor data may be used to detect the presence of hydrothermal vents; and analyze CTD data collected in the vicinity of the Galapagos Spreading Center to recognize a probable plume from hydrothermal activity.

Where Did They Come From? (PDF, 804 Kb)
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 which may contribute to the survival of species inhabiting hydrothermal vent communities.

Hot Maps (PDF, 1.3 Mb)
Focus: Multibeam sonar exploration for hydrothermal vent systems (Earth Science/Physical Science)
Students describe multibeam sonar; discuss the advantages of multibeam sonar bathymetry compared to two-dimensional topographic bathymetry; and interpret three-dimensional multibeam bathymetric data from the vicinity of the Galapagos Spreading Center.

Inside Okeanos Explorer: Doppler Velocity Log (PDF, 892 Kb)
Focus: Doppler effect and velocity estimation (Physical Science/Physics)
Students explain the Doppler effect, and describe how a Doppler velocity log is used to estimate the Okeanos Explorer’s speed while underway.

(top)


Other Relevant Lesson Plans from NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program

Grades 5-6

Earth’s Ocean is 95% Unexplored: So What?
(from the INDEX-SATAL 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Importance of deep ocean exploration (Life Science/Earth Science)
Students describe at least three different deep ocean ecosystems; explain at least three reasons for exploring Earth’s deep ocean; and explain at least three ways that deep ocean ecosystems may benefit humans.

Let’s Make a Tubeworm!
(from the INDEX-SATAL 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Hydrothermal vent ecosystems (Life Science)
Students explain the overall structure of hydrothermal vents and how they are related to the motion of tectonic plates;describe the process of chemosynthesis in general terms; contrast chemosynthesis and photosynthesis; describe the anatomy of vestimentiferans; and explain how these organisms obtain their food.

To Explore Strange New Worlds
(Grades 7-8; adaptations for Grades 5-6 & 9-12) (from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Strategies for exploring unknown areas on Earth (Life Science/Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students describe requirements for explorations of unknown areas on Earth; discuss factors that influenced exploration strategies of the Lewis and Clark and Challenger Expeditions; describe the overall exploration strategy used aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer; and describe how fractal geometry models natural systems, and how scale influences exploration strategy and results.

A Day in the Life of an Ocean Explorer
(from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Telepresence and communications for ocean exploration (Physical Science)
Students identify the basic requirements for human communication; describe at least three ways in which humans communicate; discuss the importance of scientific communication; and explain the concept of telepresence, how it is implemented aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, and how it is used to increase the pace, efficiency, and scope of ocean exploration.

Wet Maps
(from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Bathymetric mapping (Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students describe three types of bathymetric map, and discuss how each type may be used by ocean explorers; compare and contrast bathymetric mapping technologies; explain why multibeam mapping is used aboard the Okeanos Explorer; and simulate a multibeam sonar system to create a three-dimensional map of a model seafloor.

What's a CTD?
(from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Measuring physical properties of seawater for ocean exploration (Physical Science)
Students define “CTD” and explain how this instrument is used aboard the Okeanos Explorer; define salinity and density; explain how relationships between temperature, salinity, 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.

Invent a Robot!
(from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Engineering Design (Physical Science/Technology)
Students discuss advantages and disadvantages of using underwater robots in scientific explorations, and how underwater robots are used aboard the Okeanos Explorer; use the process of engineering design to develop potential solutions for an ocean exploration problem; and explain the principle of hydraulic power transfer systems, and construct a robotic arm that demonstrates this principle.

When Plates Collide
(from the INSPIRE: Chile Margin 2010 expedition)
Focus: Plate Tectonics – Movement of plates, results of plate movement, and the Chile Triple Junction (Earth Science)
Students describe the motion of tectonic plates; compare and contrast three typical boundary types that occur between tectonic plates; describe the plate boundaries that occur and the Chile Triple Junction; and explain why a variety of chemosynthetic communities are expected to occur in this area.

The Volcano Factory
(from the 2004 Submarine Ring of Fire 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.

Unexplored
(from the New Zealand American Submarine Ring of Fire 2005 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 Mariana Arc.

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/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.

InVENT a Deep-Sea Invertebrate
(from the 2002 Galápagos Rift Expedition)
Focus: Galápagos Rift Ecosystem - Structure and Function in Living Systems (Life Science)
Students design an invertebrate capable of living near deep-sea hydrothermal vents and learn about the unique adaptations that organisms must have in order to survive in the extreme environments of the deep sea.

Grades 7-8


Grades 7-8
The Tectonic Challenge
(from the INDEX-SATAL 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Plate tectonics (Earth Science)
Students describe the motion of tectonic plates; differentiate between three typical boundary types that occur between tectonic plates; infer the type of boundary that exists between two tectonic plates given information on earthquakes and volcanism in the vicinity of the boundary; and explain the relationship between tectonic plate movements and earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis.

To Explore Strange New World
(Grades 7-8; adaptations for Grades 5-6 & 9-12) (from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Strategies for exploring unknown areas on Earth (Life Science/Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students describe requirements for explorations of unknown areas on Earth; discuss factors that influenced exploration strategies of the Lewis and Clark and Challenger Expeditions; describe the overall exploration strategy used aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer; and describe how fractal geometry models natural systems, and how scale influences exploration strategy and results.

Please Pass the Remote
(from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Wireless communications (Physical Science)
Students identify and discuss at least five ways in which they use wireless technology in their daily lives; discuss the importance of communication to our culture, and describe some of the factors that contribute to the complexity of human communication; discuss factors that influence the effectiveness of human communication; identify the major components of wireless communications systems used aboard the Okeanos Explorer; and explain how these components support telepresence and scientific communication.

Mapping the Deep Ocean Floor
(from the 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.

What Little Herc Saw
(from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Use of Robotics for Ocean Exploration (Physical Science/Technology)
Students discuss the importance of robotic vehicle technology to the ocean exploration strategy used aboard the Okeanos Explorer; discuss how information from underwater robots about biological and geological features is relevant to the concept of biodiversity; and demonstrate a process for analyzing video data from the Okeanos Explorer’s underwater robot.

Friendly Volcanoes
(from the 2004 Submarine Ring of Fire 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.

Who Promised You a Rose Garden? (from the 2002 Galápagos Rift Expedition)
Focus: Biological communities associated with hydrothermal vents along the Galápagos Rift and mapping (Life Science/Earth Science)Students conduct independent research to discover what types of organisms can survive near hydrothermal vents; learn how organisms living along hydrothermal vents can survive in the absence of sunlight and photosynthesis; and use mapping skills to learn more about the Rose Garden at the Galápagos Rift.


Grades 9-12

Tools of Exploration – CTD

(from the INDEX-SATAL 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Technology for deep ocean exploration: CTD (Chemistry/Earth Science)
Students describe typical effects of hydrothermal vents, volcanoes, and cold seeps on chemical and physical parameters of seawater; explain how oceanographers can use CTD data to locate these geologic features; and analyze data from CTD casts for the presence of anomalies.

Tools of Exploration – Remotely Operated Vehicles
(from the INDEX-SATAL 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Technology for deep ocean exploration: Remotely Operated Vehicles (Earth Science/Physical Science)
Students describe systems and capabilities of science-class remotely operated vehicles, typical applications and limitations of imagery obtained with ROVs, and use ROV imagery to make inferences about deep ocean habitats.

To Explore Strange New Worlds
(Grades 7-8; adaptations for Grades 5-6 & 9-12) (from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Strategies for exploring unknown areas on Earth (Life Science/Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students describe requirements for explorations of unknown areas on Earth; discuss factors that influenced exploration strategies of the Lewis and Clark and Challenger Expeditions; describe the overall exploration strategy used aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer; and describe how fractal geometry models natural systems, and how scale influences exploration strategy and results.

Wow, That Hertz!
(from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Communications physics (Physical Science/Physics)
Students explain the concept of energy transfer though wave propagation, and how this process is used to support telepresence and scientific communications aboard the Okeanos Explorer; define an electric current, and describe the relationship between current, voltage and resistance using Ohm’s Law; identify resistors, capacitors, and inductors, and explain how each of these influences the flow of electric current; and identify and describe the function of the five basic electronic building blocks that make radios work.

Watching in 3-D
(from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Multibeam sonar (Physical Science/Earth Science)
Students describe multibeam sonar and explain why the velocity of sound in water must be measured before maps can be created with the Okeanos Explorer’s multibeam sonar system; and interpret three-dimensional multibeam data of underwater features mapped by the Okeanos Explorer.

A Quest for Anomalies
(from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Use of CTD data in ocean exploration (Earth Science/Physical Science/Technology)
Students describe and explain redox potential and optical backscatter, and how these parameters are related to deep-sea ecosystems and geologic features; and analyze data from CTD casts aboard the Okeanos Explorer for the presence of anomalies.

Through Robot Eyes
(from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 2: How Do We Explore?)
Focus: Image analysis (Physical Science/Technology)
Students describe typical applications and limitations of imagery obtained with remotely operated vehicles (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.

The Ridge Exploring Robot
(from the INSPIRE: Chile Margin 2010 expedition)
Focus: Autonomous Underwater Vehicles/Marine Navigation (Earth Science/Mathematics)
Students explain a three-phase strategy that uses an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to locate, map, and photograph previously undiscovered hydrothermal vents, design a survey program to provide a photomosaic of a hypothetical hydrothermal vent field, and calculate the expected position of the AUV based on speed and direction of travel.

Reduced Fare
(from the INSPIRE: Chile Margin 2010 expedition)
Focus: Deep-Sea Reducing Environments (Life Science)
Students describe oxidation and reduction, explain the meaning of “reducing environment,” give at least three examples of deep-sea reducing environments, demonstrate a flow of electric current produced by a redox reaction.

The Chemosynthetic Cafe
(from the INSPIRE: Chile Margin 2010 expedition)
Focus: Biochemistry of hydrothermal vents (Life Science)
Students compare and contrast food web energy sources in hydrothermal vent and aerobic environments, and will use models to explain the overall chemistry of autotrophic nutrition.

The Big Balancing Act
(from the New Zealand American Submarine Ring of Fire 2005 expedition)
Focus: Hydrothermal vent chemistry at subduction volcanoes (Chemistry/Earth Science)
Students define and describe hydrothermal circulation systems, explain the overall sequence of chemical reactions that occur in hydrothermal circulation systems, compare and contrast “black smokers” and “white smokers.” and make inferences about the relative significance of these systems to ocean chemical balance compared to terrestrial runoff from data on chemical enrichment in hydrothermal circulation systems.

What's the Difference?
(from the New Zealand American Submarine Ring of Fire 2005 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 American Submarine Ring of Fire 2005 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.

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.

Survivors on the Ocean Ridge
(from the 2002 Galápagos Rift Expedition)
Focus: Inheritance of genetic traits and the effect of environmental pressures on the expressed traits (Life Science)
Students investigate the history of explorations of the hydrothermal vent systems; design a new shrimp species based on the introduction of a new gene form from migrating shrimp populations along the rift systems; assess the viability of the new shrimp species; and develop a model for the establishment of a population of a new species of shrimp.


 

For More Information Contact:

Paula Keener
Education Director
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Other lesson plans developed for this Web site are available in the Education Section.