Arctic Lesson Plans from NOAA

Explore the Arctic in the "Under Arctic Ice" photo essay, co-developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. This essay lets you follow along as researchers explore the stunning life hidden in the icy Arctic Ocean. It highlights the work that scientists conduct in the Arctic, the technology and equipment that is needed to dive beneath the Arctic ice, and displays a variety of stunning images of the animals that inhabit the Arctic's icy waters.

The NOAA lesson plans below are an excellent companion to the "Under Arctic Ice" photo essay. Explore the Arctic photo essay with your class, then dive into one of these classroom activities, each corresponding with a chapter in the photo essay.  

Arctic cod have a special protein that keeps their blood from freezing in ice cold waters.

Credit: E. Siddon, UAF, Hidden Ocean 2005, NOAA.

Chapter 3: Fragile Fauna
Grade Level: 5-6
Focus: Life Science- Gelatinous zooplankton in the Canada Basin 
Description: In this activity, students will be able to compare and contrast at least three different groups of organisms that are included in ‘gelatinous zooplankton’, describe how gelatinous zooplankton fit into marine food webs, and explain how inadequate information about an organism may lead to that organism being perceived as insignificant. 

 

Chapter 3: Fragile Fauna and
Chapter 4: Tiny Zooplankton
Grade Level: 9-12
Focus: Biology- Water masses and gelatinous zooplankton in the Canada Basin
Description: In this activity, students will be able to compare and contrast the feeding strategies of at least three different types of gelatinous zooplankton, and explain why gelatinous zooplankton may function at several trophic levels within a marine food web. Given information on the vertical distribution of temperature in a water column, students will be able to make inferences about potential influences on the distribution of planktonic species in the water column.

 

Chapter 4: Tiny Zooplankton
Grade Level: 9-12
Focus: Chemistry/Biology- Trophic relationships in Arctic marine ecosystems 
Description: In this activity, students will be able to describe how ratios of stable nitrogen isotopes can be used to study trophic relationships between marine organisms, make inferences about trophic relationships between organisms and habitats, and compare and contrast organisms in sea ice, pelagic, and benthic communities in terms of feeding strategies and consequent stable nitrogen isotope ratios

 

Chapter 5: Mud People
Grade Level: 5-6
Focus: Biology- Pelagic, benthic, and sea ice realms
Description: In this activity, students will be able to compare and contrast the pelagic, benthic and sea ice realms of the Arctic Ocean, name at least three organisms that are typical of each of these three realms, and explain how the pelagic, benthic, and sea ice realms interact with each other.

 

Chapter 6: Arctic Adaptations 
Grade Level: 7-8
Focus: Biology- Benthic communities in the Canada Basin 
Description: In this activity, students will be able to identify major taxa that are dominant in deep benthic communities of the Arctic Ocean. Given distribution data for major taxa in different Arctic benthic communities, students will be able to identify patterns in the distribution of these taxa and infer plausible reasons for these patterns. 

 

Chapter 7: More to Explore
Grade Level: 7-8
Focus: Earth Science- Arctic climate change
Description: Students will describe how climate change is affecting sea ice, vegetation, and glaciers in the Arctic region, explain how changes in the Arctic climate can produce global impacts, and will be able to provide three examples of such impacts. Students will also explain how a given impact resulting from climate change may be considered ‘positive’ as well as ‘negative’, and will be able to provide at least one example of each. 
Activity: Make a photocube showing changes in glaciers.

 

Grade Level: 9-12
Focus: Earth Science- Potential role of Arctic methane deposits in climate change 
Description: In this activity, students will be able to identify the natural processes that produce methane, describe where methane deposits are located in the Arctic region, explain how warmer climates may affect Arctic methane deposits, explain how the release of large volumes of methane might affect Earth’s climate, and describe how methane releases may have contributed to mass extinction events in Earth’s geologic history. 

 

Grade Level: 9-12
Focus: Biology/Earth Science- Social, economic and environmental consequences of Arctic climate change 
Description: In this activity, students will be able to identify and explain at least three lines of evidence that suggest the Arctic climate is changing, identify and discuss at least three social, three economic and three environmental consequences expected as a result of Arctic climate change, identify at least three climate-related issues of concern to Arctic indigenous peoples, and identify at least three ways in which Arctic climate change is likely to affect the rest of the Earth’s ecosystems. 


More Arctic Education Resources on the Ocean Portal:

Tags: 
Education, NOAA, Arctic, Zooplankton, Adaptations

Explore "Under Arctic Ice," a photo essay developed by NOAA that gives you a behind-the-scenes view as researchers explore life in icy Arctic waters.

Credit:

E. Kristof, NGS, Arctic Exploration 2002, NOAA

Videos
Learn more in these related NOAA Ocean Today videos "Arctic Exploration" and "Monitoring the Arctic and Antarctic".
Credit:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Explore the history of Arctic culture and the environment through the collections, archives, photos, and educational resources of the Smithsonian's Arctic Studies Center website.  You can also check out their education resources for the classroom.

Credit:

Alan D. Wilson