Our Ocean Portal Educators’ Corner provides you with activities, lessons and educational resources to bring the ocean to life for your students. We have collected top resources from our collaborators to provide you with teacher-tested, ocean science materials for your classroom. We hope these resources, along with the rich experience of the Ocean Portal, will help you inspire the next generation of ocean stewards.
Featured Lesson Plans
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Find lessons/activities by topic, title or grade levels. Sort by newest or alphabetically. Lessons were developed by ocean science and education organizations like NOAA, COSEE, and NMEA to help you bring the ocean to your classroom.
An observer on the seashore may make the mistake of thinking that all ocean water is the same. But the ocean is actually composed of several layers of water with specific properties—temperature and salinity being the main drivers of layering. Students will see how these two properties affect layering in the ocean.
NOAA Ocean Explorer
This group of lesson plans focuses on primary production in the ocean via photosynthesizers, like plankton and algae. Students will learn what factors limit primary productivity in the ocean and about other ways ocean organisms produce energy (i.e. chemosynthesis).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Students will use NASA satellite data to study temperature and snow-ice coverage in the South Beaufort Sea, Alaska. The data can be used to correlate with USGS ground tracking of polar bears, and to relate this to global change, sea ice changes, and polar bear migration. The data can be used to draw conclusions surrounding any migration patterns in the region
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Learn how scientists collect field data by being a scientist yourself! By studying a specific ecosystem, students learn how different scientists work together, what kinds of data scientists record, and experience the scientific process through observation and data collection.
NOAA Ocean Service Education
How does an ecosystem recover from a major one-time insult such as an oil spill? As you will learn from this Discovery Story, the answer is not simple. It isn't easy to determine whether a particular area of shoreline has recovered from oil during a spill, or how to expect it to look when it has.