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Studying Earth's Oceans from Space
Grades 5-8
(Can be adapted for both older and younger students)

Sea Sensing Image
Grade Level: Elementary, K-2


The study of ocean processes is a powerful tool for developing student understanding of the earth as a collection of interrelated systems. Basic principles of physical, biological, chemical, and earth science and their relationships can all be illustrated by ocean phenomena. As students study ocean processes and dynamics, they become aware that although the events they study are often global in scale, the effects can be as close to home as changes in our local weather patterns. It is a particularly exciting time for students to be studying the oceans. Global monitoring by space-based instruments reveals patterns of change over time and distance never before observable. Internet capability can give students access to the same information used by scientists and researchers, providing real time and historical data on which to base their explorations.
This kit contains materials and ideas for a wide array of studies about the ocean. The written lessons cover three main areas; remote sensing, basic physical oceanography, and a study of El Nino. If time is limited, each sections can stand alone. Slides, books, posters, and the large pieces of equipment needed to carry out specific activities are included. Many of the activities are taken from the CD-ROM Visit to an Ocean Planet, produced by the Topex/Poseidon Project of JPL. Hard copies of those activities are provided for classrooms that do not have access to a computer with a CD-ROM drive. Lesson plans do include places where movies and information from the CD can be included as well as suggestions for Internet explorations.
HOWEVER, the written lessons are only a small fraction of the topics that could be studied using the materials in this kit. Kit materials can also be used to create units on biological oceanography and weather, as well as many other topics. Grades targeted here are 6-8, but there are plenty of resources for both younger and older students. So here is an invitation to look at the materials provided, try some of the lessons, study the resource materials and then let your imagination take you beyond the science kit to topics which are exciting and relevant to you and your students.
Designer: Christy Fitzpatrick, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
History: Designed in 2001 supported by a grant from NASA and the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance
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