NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer: Education Materials Collection

Ocean Exploration Education Materials Collection: Grades 6-12

The education vision for NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer is that this is a ship upon which learners of all ages embark together on scientific voyages of exploration to poorly known or unexplored areas of the global ocean. Learners will participate as ocean explorers in innovative ways in breakthrough discoveries leading to increased scientific understanding and enhanced literacy about our ocean world.

To help fulfill this mission, the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection was developed to encourage educators and students to become personally involved with the voyages and discoveries of the Okeanos Explorer – the only federal vessel dedicated to exploring our largely unknown ocean for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge about the deep ocean.

The Education Materials Collection is presented in two volumes: Volume 1: Why Do We Explore? (modern reasons for ocean exploration) and Volume 2: How Do We Explore? (exploration methods and associated technologies). Each volume begins with a lesson that guides students in broad investigation of the overall topic, followed by background information and lessons organized by key subject areas. Some of the lessons provided have been adapted from lessons previously developed for expeditions supported by NOAA Ocean Exploration, while others have been created specifically for the Okeanos Explorer education initiative. Whenever possible, hands-on activities are included that involve manipulations other than paper-and-pencil exercises or web-based research. The reason for doing this is that field science, and exploration in particular, depend heavily upon technology and problem-solving skills needed to create, use, and advance new technology.

Each lesson in the Collection supports the Next Generation Science Standards:

Each lesson also supports the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts . This does not necessarily mean that a particular lesson fully develops the noted standards, principles, or concepts, but rather indicates that an educator may use the information in the lesson as a context or point of departure for addressing those standards.

Lessons also include links to other relevant lesson plans from NOAA Ocean Exploration, as well as from this website. Educators who use the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection should regularly check the Education section of this site for the latest information about new education offerings and professional development opportunities.

Access the materials below...and welcome aboard!

Volume 1: Why Do We Explore?

Volume 1 of the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection - Why Do We Explore? focuses on the reasons for ocean exploration and provides educators with background information on key topics of ocean exploration, as well as 15 lessons to guide further inquiries into these topics.

Why Do We Explore? Keynote Address (3.6 Mb)


Volume 2: How Do We Explore?

Volume 2 of the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection - How Do We Explore? begins with an introductory section that sets the stage for the exploration strategy of the Okeanos Explorer. The book is divided into sections based on the modern exploration tools used aboard the ship, including telepresence, multibeam sonar, water column investigations and underwater robots.


Lecciones en español

Traducción al español de las lecciones de Explorando el océano profundo con NOAA, el taller para el desarrollo profesional del educador.


Exploring the Deep Ocean with NOAA

Selected lessons from the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, Volume 1: Why Do We Explore? and Volume 2: How Do We Explore? have been updated for the current educator professional development workshops and are provided here.



Additional Resources

Expedition Education Modules

Expedition Education Modules are designed to reach out in new ways to teachers, students, and the general public and share the excitement of daily at-sea discoveries and the science behind NOAA’s major ocean exploration initiatives with the people around the world.

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Ocean Exploration Educational Materials: By Theme

These Education Theme Pages are designed to provide the best of what the Ocean Explorer website has to offer on a number of popular ocean science topics. Each Theme page provides links to content essays, lessons, multimedia interactive activities, career information and associated past expeditions. Look for more theme pages to be added here over time.

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Professional Development

NOAA Ocean Exploration professional development offerings provide opportunities for teachers and other educators to engage in learning more about ocean exploration. The offerings are designed to introduce participants to premiere ocean scientists/explorers and their research and explorations. At the same time, we provide exemplary tools and resources for the classroom to enhance the teaching and learning of ocean science and NOAA endeavors in ocean exploration. Onsite professional development workshops are offered around the country in cooperation with our Ocean Explorer Education Alliance Partners.

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Careers and Student Opportunities

Hear from some of the talented explorers who study the ocean world. From underwater pilots to research scientists, these marine mentors will provide students with first-hand knowledge of exciting careers through their interviews and profiles.

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Current: The Journal of Marine Education: A Special Issue Featuring: A Closer Look at Ocean Careers through the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer: A “Case Study”

In this issue of Current, the Journal of Marine Education, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer “comes alive,” capturing the enthusiasm of the ship’s officers, crew, and explorers as they live and work onboard the nation’s first dedicated ship for ocean exploration. The combination of personnel and instrumentation on a single vessel dedicated to ocean exploration is unique and is presented here as a “case study” for educators and students wishing to know more about the paths traveled by some of the individuals who dedicate their lives to understanding more about our little-known ocean world.

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Okeanos Explorer Educational Resources and Links

Access resources and links related to ocean exploration aboard NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, including presentations and webcasts by ocean explorers.

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For more information, please contact the NOAA Ocean Exploration Education Team at: