Recommended Lessons for Key "How 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.

Background Information

Grades 7-8; adaptations for Grades 5-6 & 9-12
To Explore Strange New Worlds
[Focus: Strategies for exploring unknown areas on Earth]
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.


Grades 5-6
A Day in the Life of an Ocean Explorer
[Focus: Telepresence and communications for ocean exploration]
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.

Grades 7-8
Please Pass the Remote
[Focus: Wireless communications]
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.

Grades 9-12
Wow, That Hertz!
[Focus: Communications 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.

Multibeam Mapping

Grades 5-6
Wet Maps
[Focus: Bathymetric mapping]
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.

Grades 7-8
Mapping the Deep Ocean Floor
[Focus: Bathymetric mapping]
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.

Grades 9-12
Watching in 3-D
[Focus: Multibeam sonar]
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.

Water Column Investigations

Grades 5-6
What's a CTD?
[Focus: Measuring physical properties of seawater for ocean exploration]
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.

Grades 7-8
The Oceanographic Yo-yo
[Focus: Ocean chemistry and hydrothermal vents]
Students explain the effects of hydrothermal vents on chemical and physical parameters of seawater; describe instruments aboard the Okeanos Explorer that detect these effects; and analyze data from the Okeanos Explorer to find chemical clues that suggest the presence of hydrothermal vents.

Grades 9-12
A Quest for Anomalies
[Focus: Use of CTD data in ocean exploration]
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.

Underwater Robots

Grades 5-6
Invent a Robot!
[Focus: Engineering Design]
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
What Little Herc Saw
[Focus: Use of Robotics for Ocean Exploration]
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
Through Robot Eyes
[Focus: Image analysis]
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