Mountains in the Deep: Exploring the Central Pacific Basin

Classroom Lessons

Classroom lessons and learning tools relevant to the expedition are listed below by grade level. Although some of these resources may have been developed for past expeditions conducted in other regions of the world ocean, the Focus Questions and Student Learning Objectives are applicable to the current expedition.

Exploring LIVE with the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer (pdf, 169 KB)

Grade Level: 5-12
Focus: How students can become active ocean explorers while viewing live video feeds during Okeanos Explorer expeditions (Physical Science/Earth Science)

Students will create physical models that illustrate changes in Vailulu’u seamount topography over time, and use these models and other evidence to make inferences about the relationship between physical and biological components of Vailulu’u seamount ecosystems.

Grades 6-8

Creatures of Change (PDF, 1.5 MB)

Grade Level: 6-8
Focus: Vailulu’u seamount ecosystems (Life Science/Earth Science)

Students explain how geological, biological and oceanographic processes are involved with habitats observed on Vailulu'u seamount, and discuss the time and spatial scales over which these processes operate.

Easy as Pi (PDF, 293 KB)

Grade Level: 5-6
Focus: Structural complexity in coral reef communities (Life Science/Mathematics)

Students describe the importance of structural features that increase surface area in coral reef habitats; quantify the relative impact of various structural modifications on surface area in model habitats; and give examples of organisms that increase the structural complexity of their communities.

The Tectonic Challenge (PDF, 293 KB)

Grade Level: 5-6
Focus: Plate tectonics (Earth Science)
From the INDEX SATAL 2010 Expedition.

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.

Grades 9-12

Cobalt-rich Ferromanganese Crust Ecosystems (pdf, 397 KB)

Grade Level: 9-12
Focus: Ecosystems associated with cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts (Earth Science)
From the Hohonu Moana: Exploring Deep Waters off Hawaii Expedition 2015.

Students define cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts, explain how they are formed, discuss their associated ecosystems, and discuss the positive and negative impacts of mining these mineral resources from the deep ocean. Students evaluate competing design solutions for protecting ecosystems associated with cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts from potential human impacts.

Round and Round (pdf, 290 KB)

Grade Level: 9-12
Focus: Circulation cells in the vicinity of seamounts (Earth Science)
From the 2002 Mountains in the Sea Expedition.

Students interpret data from a three-dimensional array of current monitors to infer an overall pattern of water circulation; hypothesize what effect an observed water circulation pattern might have on seamount fauna that reproduce by means of floating larvae; and describe the importance of measurements to verify theoretical predictions.

Deep Coral Communities: Sentinels of a Changing Ocean (PDF, 2.0 MB) 

Grade Level: 9-12
Focus: Species found in deep-sea coral communities, the threats that face them, and what individuals and communities can do help protect them.
From Deep Coral Communities Curriculum, NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries.

Students will be able to describe the physical and biological components of the deep sea in the five national marine sanctuaries on the West Coast; experience the challenges associated with identifying species and recording data taken with ROVs; explain how scientists analyze data by using species diversity and abundance from recorded video; explain the importance of characterizing habitat and be able to describe the various habitat types found in deep-sea coral communities; understand the human caused threats that face deep-sea coral communities; and explain actions that individuals and communities can take to protect these special places.

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection

This lesson collection was developed to encourage educators and students to become personally involved with the voyages and discoveries of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer –America’s first Federal ship dedicated to ocean exploration. The Education Materials Collection is presented in two volumes:

  • Volume 1: Why Do We Explore? (Grades 5-12) - This volume of 16 lessons focuses on modern reasons for ocean exploration, providing background information on key topics of Ocean Exploration including Climate Change, Energy, Human Health, and Ocean Health.
  • Volume 2: How Do We Explore? (Grades 5-12) - This volume of 11 lessons focuses on modern exploration tools used aboard the ship: telepresence, multibeam sonar, water column investigations and underwater robots.