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Investigating the Ocean Planet - Grade 6

Table of Contents


Conceptual Scheme

Marine Aquaria


Successful Fieldtripping

Unit 1: The Ocean Planet

   1. The Ocean Apple
Apples are used as a model of Earth to demonstrate the tiny fraction of ocean that is productive.

   2. The Ocean Planet
Students use colored ice cubes in a glass of water to explore ocean currents.

   3. Viewing the Ocean Planet: Plankton Patterns
Plotting "satellite" and "shipboard" data on a grid, teams of students try to find the pattern of plankton in a section of ocean.

Unit 2: Marine Environments

   1. Marine Environments
Introductory activity for class discussion of "What is an environment?" and an investigation of elements of both terrestrial and marine environments.

   2. Connecting Marine Environments
Students review vocabulary and concepts introduced in the preceding activity by completing a crossword puzzle.

Unit 3: The Saltwater Environment

   1. Water, Water Everywhere
Students read graphs and compute percentages of the chemical elements dissolved in seawater.

   2. Ocean Currents
Using two soda pop bottles, students simulate ocean water of different densities, then predict what will happen and test their theories.

   3. Density Currents in a Model Ocean
Students make a small ocean model in a clear pan and observe currents caused by density differences due to temperature.

Unit 4: The Deep Sea

   1. Depth Line
Students make a scale of ocean depth on a 4 meter length of adding machine tape, placing labels along the scale indicating notable events.

   2. Properties of the Deep Sea
Students use colored acetate sheets to simulate the color filtering effect of sea water depth, and to see how fish use this effect as camouflage.

   3. How Low Can You Go?
Students are introduced to the tremendous pressures and darkness of the deep sea by exploring the structural adaptations of the deep sea Angler Fish.

   4. Designing Deep Sea Life
Based on the information available to early scientists, students design and draw an organism that could live in the deep sea.

   5. Design a Submersible Vehicle
Using a variety of "junk items" provided by the teacher, students design and test a submersible vehicle.

   6. Deep Sea Trawl Simulation
Student teams conduct simulated trawls in the deep sea. Budgets are limited.

   7. Analysis of Animal Adaptations
Fish adapted to the completely dark, high pressure, very cold deep sea habitat are strange indeed.

   8. Glowing in the Dark: Bioluminescence
Students explore the effect of bioluminescence on communication and concealment in the deep sea, using flashlights to role play schooling behavior.

   9. Cycling in the Hydrothermal Vents
Food webs at a hydrothermal vent are illustrated by teams of students. Difference between Photosynthesis and Chemosynthesis is emphasized.

Unit 5: Seawater Investigations

   1. Now You See It, Now You Don't
Investigations with an egg in fresh and salt water and a clear explanation of WHY objects float.

   2. Hydrometer Connection
Students construct a hydrometer with soda straw and clay; then use it to determine relative salinity of solutions.

   3. Cold As Ice
By freezing water solutions of varying salinities, students see that salinity level affects the freezing point for water.

   4. Salty Dog
Students weigh and then heat a sample of salt water so it evaporates until only the salt is left. Then they weigh the salt, and calculate the salinity.

Unit 6: Physical Features of the Marine Environment

   1. What's That Sound?
Echo sounding data is used by students to plot the profile of the ocean bottom along a ship's route.

   2. Measuring the Ocean Depths
Students build a model of the ocean floor in a shoebox, then probe and graph the depths to find the seafloor features hidden beneath the surface.

   3. Bathymetric Mapping
Using depth data on a map, students connect contour lines to create a bathymetric map.

Unit 7: Marine Mammals

   1. Whales and Food Chains
Mathematical activity to calculate the energy flow in an ocean food web.

   2. Baleen Strains
Simulation of straining "plankton" (candy sprinkles and pepper) out of water using "baleen" (a paintbrush).

   3. Sound Travels
Students build an echolocation model: Using ramps and marbles, they calculate the distance to an object by recording the time it takes for a marble to reach it.

   4. Field Studies of Whales
Simulation of recognition of individual Orca whales: Students try to recognize classmates as they appear briefly from behind a butcher paper "ocean".

   5. Name That Whale: Cetacean Key
Students identify a number of whales using a simple dichotomous key. Baleen and toothed whale groups are identified.

   6. Orca Photo I.D.
Field identification of Orca (Killer) whales is simulated: students use markings such as the "saddle patch" in actual whale photos to identify individuals.

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