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Oceans for Life—Grades K-4
(NOTE: Lesson plans provided in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader.)
Element Objectives Recommended Lessons
Oceanography studies the relationships between life, habitats, and environments by mapping information about them into a spatial context.
• Location of nearby bodies of water and watersheds (e.g., ponds, streams, lakes, rivers, inlets, etc.)
• Location of significant rivers, estuaries, and watersheds (e.g., Ohio/Missouri/Mississippi, Amazon, Chesapeake Bay)
• Location of major world oceans, seas and gulfs (e.g., Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean Sea, Gulf of Mexico)
• Oceans as three-dimensional habitats (e.g., area, depth, volume)
• Distribution of water (e.g., more than 70% of the Earth's surface; relative amounts, location, ice vs. fresh vs. salt)
Oceans have physical and biotic characteristics which are used to define habitats and regions.
• Characteristics of ocean habitats (e.g., shorelines, water column, habitats and ocean life)
• Characteristics of oceans and ocean ecosystems and habitats (e.g., salinity, density, temperature, ph, food webs)
• Similarities and differences among the world's oceans (e.g., salinity, depth, size, volume, temperature, organisms)
• Concept of regions as applied to oceans (e.g., watersheds, continental shelves)
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 hydrologic cycle—relationship to the ocean (e.g., evaporation, transpiration, condensation, etc.)
• Ocean influence on weather and climate (e.g., connections to the water cycle)
• Biodiversity (e.g., classification, interaction of organisms)
• Ocean habitats (e.g., effects of depth and temperature on habitats)
• Simple ocean dynamics (e.g., tides and currents, salinity, density, waves)
• Changes in shorelines (e.g., effects of tides, beach transport, erosion)
Water Chemistry (EPA PDF)
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)
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.
• Introduction to marine resources (e.g., fishing, aquaculture, minerals, oil, sustainability)
• Human influences on oceans (e.g., beach closures, marine debris, overfishing, loss of habitat, water quality)
• Ocean influences on humans (e.g., weather and climate, tidal waves, hurricanes)
• Water as a resource (e.g., potable water, recreation)
Water, Now and Then (EPA PDF)
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.
• Changes in ocean/land area distribution over time (e.g. sea level change, plate tectonics)
• Influence of oceanography on past events (e.g., circumnavigation of Earth, naval warfare, ship groundings)
• Influence of oceanography on current and future events (e.g., marine mammal groundings, climate and weather predictions)
• Ocean themes in literature, art, and music (e.g., fish prints, sea chanties, aquaria)

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