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
Keeping Watch on Coral Reefs
Students learn why coral reefs are important, and what can be done to protect them from major threats.
Long Live the Sharks and Rays
Students will learn about adaptations that have helped sharks and rays survive. Students will explore similarities and differences between sharks, rays and other fish and that different types of sharks and rays have different temperaments and diets and that some of the largest sharks and rays are the most gentle.
Focus on Farmer Fish
In this two part lesson, students gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between environmental factors and organism adaptations through a focused study on a specific coral reef denizen—the personable farmerfish. Students first take part in an interactive PowerPoint presentation to gain background knowledge and then apply learned concepts by participating in a board game.
Search Lesson Plans
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.
Oil and Art
The students will generate a KWL focused around the BP oil spill. What do they already know, what do they want to know, and what did they learn? Students can generate their ideas individually or in groups. After they have completed the K and W, students will watch the National Geographic documentary “Can the Gulf Survive?” During the video the students are to take notes and generate at least five questions that they have regarding the aftermath of this disaster. After the video the students will get back into their groups, discuss the video, and compile what they learned. The students will present their findings to the class.
Light in the Deep
How are deep sea animals adapted to their environment? Students will explore one camouflage strategy of deep sea animals through an in-depth examination of light properties in ocean waters.
A series of lesson plans that help students understand the properties of the deep sea including hydrostatic pressure and ocean zones.
Light at the End of the Deep, Dark Ocean
Students will experience the impact of bioluminescence on finding food and finding prey in the ocean. Students will be able to describe the positive and negative values of being able to produce light.
Hydrothermal Vent Food Web
Students will make a food web diagram of the hydrothermal vent community and show the flow of energy and materials in this ecosystem.
Modeling the Gulf of Mexico
This middle school science curriculum contains five lesson plans related to ocean modeling, including the fields of biogeochemistry, fluid dynamics, and microbiology.
Oil, Oil Everywhere
Students will demonstrate the different methods used to clean up after an oil spill and gain an understanding of the difficulties that are encountered.
The Great Plankton Race
Students use a variety of materials to construct various models of plankton to gain an understanding of neutral buoyancy.
What Drives Ocean Currents?
Students will gain an understanding of how water density and salinity affect ocean currents in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico by modeling a layered ocean.
Oil Spill Cleanup Challenge
The goal of this activity is to get students thinking about oil in the ocean, and in particular about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the challenging cleanup efforts. Each pair of students will have a water-filled tray to represent the Gulf of Mexico and a set of materials to respond to the simulated oil spill.
This activity is useful for a wide range of ages and works well in a camp or classroom setting. This challenge, including introduction, hands-on activity, and discussion, takes about 1 hour.