Lesson Plans for the Mid-Cayman Rise 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 Mid-Cayman Rise Expedition 2011 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

In addition to being tied to the Framework for K-12 Science Education 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, are sent back periodically from sea. Teachers are encouraged to use the logs and updates from the Mid-Cayman Rise Expedition 2011 Expedition, which are posted on this site, to supplement the lesson plans. The Okeanos Atlas provides a map-based link to information about current and previous ocean exploration expeditions conducted aboard the Okeanos Explorer. For more information, click here.

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

To Sink, to Rise, or to Float (PDF, 689 Kb)
Focus: Buoyancy applied to exploration for hydrothermal vents (Physical Science)
Students define buoyancy and density; compare and contrast positive buoyancy, negative buoyancy and neutral buoyancy; and explain how the concepts of buoyancy and density are relevant to exploration for hydrothermal vent systems.

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Grades 7-8

Tracking Down the Vents (PDF, 1.4 Mb)
Focus: Plumes from hydrothermal vents (Physical Science)
Students compare and contrast buoyant and nonbuoyant hydrothermal vent plumes; explain how buoyant plumes become neutrally buoyant; explain how ocean explorers can predict the source of a hydrothermal vent plume if they know the altitude of a plume above the seafloor; and demonstrate how hydrothermal vent plumes can be detected from chemical clues.

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Grades 9-12

Welcome to the Ridge (PDF, 706 Kb)
Focus: Chemistry of hydrothermal vent systems on mid-ocean ridges (Earth Science/Chemistry/Life Science)
Students compare and contrast hydrothermal vent systems and biological communities on different mid-ocean ridges; explain three ways in which hydrothermal vent systems on the Mid-Cayman Rise are unusual; describe and explain three types of hydrothermal vents; and explain why space scientists are interested in biological communities around ultramafic hydrothermal vents.

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Other Relevant Lesson Plans from NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program

Grades 5-6

The Okeanos Explorer Atlas
(from the Galapagos Rift 2011 Expedition)
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 the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, and calculate velocity from information about geographic position at two different times.

A Hydrothermal AdVENTure
(from the Galapagos Rift 2011 Expedition)
Focus: Hydrothermal vents (Life Science)
Students explain the overall structure of hydrothermal vents and how they are related to the motion of tectonic plates, and create a model of a hydrothermal vent.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Grades 9-12

We’ve Got Plumes!
(from the Galapagos Rift 2011 Expedition)
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?
(from the Galapagos Rift 2011 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 which may contribute to the survival of species inhabiting hydrothermal vent communities.

Hot Maps
(from the Galapagos Rift 2011 Expedition)
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
(from the Galapagos Rift 2011 Expedition)
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.

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.


 

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.