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Oceans for Life—Grades 5-8
(NOTE: Lesson plans provided in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader.)
Element Objectives Recommended Lessons
THE WORLD IN SPATIAL TERMS
Oceanography studies the relationships between life, habitats, and environments by mapping information about them into a spatial context.
• Latitude/longitude/depth (e.g., bathymetry, map and chart reading, navigation)
• Spatial representations and technology (e.g., ocean atlases, Geographic Information Systems [GIS], Global Positioning Systems [GPS])
• Location of oceanic features (e.g., seamounts, coral reefs, atolls, deep-sea trenches, ridges)
• Location of major U.S. ports (e.g., New York, Los Angeles/Long Beach, San Francisco, New Orleans, Houston)
• Location of major ocean resources (e.g., fish stocks, whale migration routes, oil and gas deposits)
Journey to the Unknown (NOAA PDF)
Coral Mania (NOAA PDF)
PLACES AND REGIONS
Oceans have physical and biotic characteristics which are used to define habitats and regions.
• Changes in places and regions over time (e.g., coastal erosion, sea level change, sea surface temperature)
• Marine protected areas (e.g., National Marine Sanctuary system, marine protected area network, National Estuarine Research Reserves)
• Characteristics of shorelines (e.g., rocky coast, mudflat, sandy beach)
• Characteristics of the water column (e.g., shallow, mid-water, deep water—major ocean currents, waves and tides)
• Characteristics of near shore habitats (e.g., coral reefs, kelp beds, mangrove swamps, sea grass beds)
• Characteristics of the sea floor (e.g., intertidal zone, continental shelf, continental slope, islands, deep ocean, deep ocean trenches)
• Characteristics of ocean biomes (e.g., major ecological communities, biodiversity, deep sea)
Polar Bear Panic! (NOAA PDF)
One Tough Worm (NOAA PDF)
Living with the Heat (NOAA PDF)
PHYSICAL SYSTEMS
Physical processes drive global systems in which oceans are fundamental.
• Relationship of rivers, estuaries and oceans and the concept of watersheds (e.g., interconnectedness of land and sea; changes in one part affect another)
• The biological ocean—processes and interactions (e.g., Ocean ecosystems, interdependence of life on Earth to the oceans, food webs, carbon cycling, animal behavior, e.g. bioluminescence)
• Seafloor features and processes (e.g., general plate tectonics, names of major plates, seafloor spreading, past / present ocean levels, hydrothermal vents, volcanoes)
• Earth/Sun and Earth/Moon relationships (e.g., rotation, global winds, tidal connection to lunar cycle, gravity, Coriolis effect, carbon sequestration)
• Ocean physics (e.g. climate, dynamics, atmospheric/ocean linkages, waves)
One Tough Worm (NOAA PDF)
Journey to the Unknown (NOAA PDF)
All That Glitters ... (NOAA PDF)
Living with the Heat (NOAA PDF)
HUMAN SYSTEMS
Oceans and human systems are interconnected politically, economically, and culturally
• Oceans as providers of goods and services (e.g. fisheries, transportation)
• Oceans as barriers and conduits for trade and transportation (e.g. Panama canal, intercoastal waterways, distance and climate)
• Ocean resources as a focal point in shaping political and geographic policies (e.g. ocean management at local to global scales, EEZ, fishing and whaling rights, global oceanic interdependence)
• Exploration and settlement (e.g. immigration patterns, 1% of ocean explored, underwater habitats)
ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY
Oceans are modified by human activities, largely as a consequence of the ways in which human societies value and use Earth's natural resources, and human activities are also influenced by the oceans' physical features and processes.
• Human influences on the oceans (e.g., resource competition, overfishing; loss of habitat, spread of non-indigenous species, agricultural runoff, shoreline impacts, water quality)
• Ocean influences on humans (e.g., ecotourism, economic development, sustainability, and careers)
• Ocean resources (e.g., fisheries, mining)
• Watershed management (e.g., dams, forestry practices)
• Fresh water resources (e.g., urbanization, aquaculture, agriculture, fresh water distribution)
• Interconnections between atmospheric, land and ocean issues (waste disposal, global climate change, nonpoint source pollution)
USES OF OCEANOGRAPHY
Knowledge of oceanography enables people to develop an understanding of the relationships between life, habitats, and environments over space and time—that is, of Earth as it was, is, and might be.
• Impact of ocean processes on the location of and outcome of historic events (e.g., exploration, migration and settlement, naval activity)
• Applying oceanography to understand the past (e.g. ocean exploration, shipwreck histories)
• Environmental issues (e.g. global climate change, effects of ozone, modeling)
• Ocean themes in literature, art, and music (e.g. fish prints to study anatomy, Jules Verne)
Polar Bear Panic! (NOAA PDF)

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