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Archive for the ‘Oceans’ Category

Students in Oceanography class, which is taken by high school juniors and seniors, were assigned a research topic with presentation for their final assignment. Presentations, given by the students during their final exam period, were a wonderful wrap-up to oceanography and segue to marine biology next semester. Their presentations also provided a means for covering a lot of ocean resource topics in a short time period, as each student was assigned a different resource, but all with the same essential question:

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The assignment

Big Idea: The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected. The oceans are a connected system of water in motion that transports matter and energy around Earth’s surface.

Assignment:  In the role of a marine scientist, you will research a marine resource and present an argument for a position related to use of that resource, supporting your position with scientifically valid evidence.

Product:  On the day of the final exam you will (1) turn in a 3- to 5- page paper, and (2) give a five- to ten-minute oral presentation, with video support, of your research results.

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Commercial Fisshing slide by Jesse

Marine Resource Topics:

To make sure that each student had a separate research topic, I printed the following list in large font and spread them out on the table for students to choose from. Sometimes I assign by putting the topics in a “hat” and students choose blindly, but this is typically followed by a lot of negotiations for swapping; the way I did it this time still had negotiations, but between only those that were quickest with the grab rather than everyone. No perfect way to do this because everyone wants coral reefs.

  • Petroleum and natural gas
  • Marine sand and gravel
  • Magnesium and magnesium compounds
  • Salt
  • Manganese Nodules
  • Phosphorite Deposits
  • Metallic Sulfides
  • Fresh Water from the Ocean
  • Methane hydrates
  • Offshore wind energy
  • Energy from waves and currents
  • Energy from ocean vertical thermal gradient
  • Coastline protection
  • Coral Reefs
  • Medicine and drugs
  • Crustaceans and molluscs
  • Commercial fishing practices
  • Aquaculture
  • Whaling
  • Managing biological resources

Students were encouraged to narrow down their topics to make them more manageable. For example, “Aquaculture” could be narrowed down to shrimp farming.

To make the assignment clear to the students, I broke the description into two pages: the paper and the presentation.

Research Guidelines:

wave_energy

Wave Energy by Jacob

1.Required Length: 1000 words (approximately three pages of text), not including references and not including quoted material.

2.  Required references: a minimum of five relevant scientific articles and/or internet sites related to the topic. This is the minimum amount of reference material — you may need more to do an adequate job of researching your topic.

3.  Things to focus on in your research:

  • define the problem – what part of the world’s ocean does it affect?
  • how did the problem come about? How is the problem being made worse by humans/is it being made worse by humans? What are the various causes of the problem?
  • what are some possible solutions to the problem? Are any of the feasible?  How will we implement some of these solutions?
  • what is the importance or significance of the topic?
  • what methods have scientists used to investigate the topic?
  • what kinds of information and data have scientists found?
  • what major results and conclusions have scientists made, based on the above?

4.  Format of the paper:

  • Lead off with a separate title page, containing: title, your name, course name, school name, date
  • Body of at least three pages of text (~1,000 words):
  • Begin the body with an introduction: a section (one or two paragraphs) that clearly states the purpose of the paper and reviews the main points that the paper will cover
  • Break up the paper into logic sections using subheadings to identify the subject of the different sections
  • End the paper with a conclusion (one or two paragraphs) that wraps up and summarizes in specific ways the main points of the paper
  • Spell-check and grammar-check! (sloppy spelling errors and poor grammar will result in a poor grade)
  • A page (or more) of references per MLA guidelines

5.  Submitting your paper: Submit your paper in electronic format, preferably in Microsoft Word or Google doc.

6.  Plagiarism: Don’t. Just don’t. You know better.

forbes

Background and Reflective Thoughts

Our school only teaches MLA formatting. With my 18-year background of  writing engineering documents, I find it frustrating to constantly be getting english-style essays rather than scientific documents. Starting next year, I plan on teaching my students APA formatting, and directing students to understand the difference between technical writing and english-essay writing.

The word length is only 1000 words because I wanted the students focussed on finding good resources and highlighting the issues, rather than being focussed on “getting the right number of words”. In meeting the research requirements most students were concerned that they had gone too far over the minimum.

Our librarian has stacks of research record templates in different colors for students to use to document their research, with teachers assigning a different color for the type of resources, e.g., blue for a book, green for technical article, etc.. Our librarian has, for her entire career here, been proactive in helping students to learn the difference between “good” and “bad” resources, to understand what paraphrasing is and isn’t, and to use databases beyond the internet. She teaches all freshmen how to research a topic and has written a research guide for students.

  • A coral reef is the rainforest of the ocean with all its diversity.” – Sam

Presentation Guidelines:

You may use the board, posters, handouts, or a PowerPoint presentation to help provide visual aids. Following your presentation, there will be time for a few questions. You should know your topic well enough to answer all reasonable questions on the topic. Grades will be based on both what you present and how well you know the information.

If you just read a few paragraphs directly from a sheet of paper or from your slides and cannot answer basic questions on your topic without your notes, you should not expect a passing grade on the presentation.

You have studied many physical aspects of the ocean. Include a detailed discussion of at least one of these in your paper and presentation. They include:

  • Understand and describe some important properties of water: Before we can understand the numerous and amazing ways the oceans impact our lives on land, we need to understand some special qualities of water. Properties such as surface tension, capillary action and solvency make water one of the most unique substances on Earth.
  • Explain how waves form and shape the coastline. Understanding conditions on the shore will help us understand some ocean habitats.
  • Describe the differences between wave and current formation and qualities.
  • Explain how ocean currents influence climate on land.
  • Describe and identify ocean floor features Understanding the shape of the ocean floor will help us understand ocean habitats.
  • Analyze different ocean zones of life and categorize organisms that live in each.

Background and Reflective Thoughts

I enjoyed the student presentations and really wish I had thought to video tape them.  To make sure that students were paying attention to other presentations, they were given a sheet of paper to record thoughts and impressions, and this paper was collected:

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I was inspired by many of the presentations and it gave me the idea that, in my mixed CP/Honors Marine Biology class next semester, the honors students (who will have work in addition to the rest of the class) should give presentations to the CP students.

A couple of closing thoughts from the students:

  • Fishing to extinction of species is evolution going in the wrong direction.” – Josh

  • You never think about not having earth’s resources until you do not have them anymore, but by then it is too late. Everyone must be mindful of Earth’s natural resources because so we do not find out one day that they’re all gone. ” – Kelsey

Amen to that.

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On the field trip you were given a New England Aquarium scavenger hunt booklet to complete. You were also encouraged to take photographs. Now it is time to share your learning with others, through your blog post.  Your post must answer all the components of your booklet, as illustrated and outlined below.

  • Extended observation of one organism

NEAQ1

  • Report on six exhibits

(You may have substituted the jelly exhibit for one of these.)

NEAQ2

  • Describe the mission of the New England Aquarium and how it is conveyed throughout the exhibits

NEAQ4

  • Share experiences from the touch tank and the giant ocean tank

NEAQ3

Normal criteria for a blog post apply:

  • 150 words
  • pictures (if they are not yours, provide a citation!)
  • links to additional information (at a minimum, provide a link to the New England Aquarium, but other links could take readers to additional information on particular animals, such as penguins)
  • provide appropriate keywords on your post
  • publish and share the link

 

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Portion of ocean floor, from Google Earth

Portion of ocean floor, from Google Earth

Research Questions

How can ocean floor features be measured and mapped using current acoustical technology? How can ocean floor maps be used in the commercial, military, and/or private sector?

Objectives

  • Use the description of ocean floor features to construct a three-dimensional model of a section of the seafloor.
  • Simulate active sonar soundings of a model of the ocean floor.
  • Describe the concept of vertical exaggeration and why it is used in construction of side profile maps.

Procedure

In class, we created models of portions of the ocean floor, using playdough, and simulated collecting sounding data in a grid format.

Analysis

  1. Based on your seafloor model provide a description of the topography of your surveyed area.
  2. Using the sonar stick is actually simulating what is known as remote sensing technology. What are the advantages of using remote sensing technology for your survey instead of direct observation?
  3. When graphing the ocean floor features we stretched the Y-axis. This is known as vertical exaggeration. What is the advantage of using vertical exaggeration in constructing your profiles of the seafloor?

Conclude and Communicate

  1. Identify the research questions for this activity, and your ideas/answers to those questions.
  2. Define the following ocean floor features (your model maps contained at least three of them) and provide pictures for three of them:
    1. A flat abyssal plain.
    2. An underwater seamount or guyot.
    3. A continental shelf, break, slope, and rise.
    4. A submarine canyon on the continental shelf.
    5. The mid-ocean ridge.
    6. A trench and island arc system.
  3. Write up responses to the three analysis questions above.
  4. Write two new research questions based on what you have learned from this activity:
  5. What was the value and importance of this activity to your study of science.

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Something that we would do would be to use refillable water bottles so that bottle caps and potentially the bottle that they come in would not go out to the ocean. In these past couple of weeks we learned that an incredible amount of plastic ends up in the ocean, especially bottle caps. Bottle caps cannot be recycled and when they end up in the ocean, animals eat them.  The animals cannot digest them; they build up in their stomachs and die because of this. The ocean currents carry and distribute these bottle caps all throughout the ocean.  Not only bottle caps but also shopping bags and plastic rings that hold six packs together. However, just trying to stop bottle caps from going into the ocean would be a big step to start fixing this problem.seabirds-eat-plastic2

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There are many things that we learned about the ocean currents. Ocean currents are a continuous, direct movement of ocean waters generated by different forces acting upon this, such as, wind, waves, the Coriolis Effect, temperature, and the tides. They can flow for a great amount of distance and help determine the climate of many of the Earth’s regions. Surface ocean currents develop their clockwise spiral in the northern hemispheres and their counterclockwise spirals in the southern hemispheres due to the different wind stressors. In wind-driven currents, the Ekman spiral effect results in the currents flowing at an angle to the driving winds. The salinity and the tides cause the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun.
One action that we will take to protect the ocean is to recycle a lot more and to use a lot less plastic in our everyday lives.

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In Oceanography class we have recently been learning about oceans and how pollution can effect the creatures living in our oceans. We use a lot of plastic in our everyday lives and we need to be more cautious about where that plastic is going in the long run. What most people dont realize is that if we are careless and dont recycle or cut down on the amount of plastic we use, we are hurting sea creatures because of where that plastic ends up. In class, we have learned about currents and we have watched graphic videos of sea creatures being hurt by the plastic that is in our oceans. We need to take action and change how much plastic we use and we need to make sure that we recycle the plastic that we do use. By using less plastic, we can have a big impact on the cleanliness of our oceans and better the lives of the creatures in the oceans. One action that we could take in order to reduce ocean pollution is to make sure that we are recycling all of our plastic. Another thing that we could do to prevent plastic in our oceans is reusing the plastic that we have so that we create less waste in the long run. Keeping our oceans clean is an important thing and we have many ways that we can help keep creatures safe from the harm that plastic poses. Changing minor parts of our every day lives can help ensure a longer, healthier life for the animals that live under the sea!

An example of the destruction that ocean pollution causes in West Hawaii

Mae West, the snapping turtle stuck in six pack can packaging
A video of Mae West in action:

Beth Terry, an activist for a plastic-free life
A link to her blog: http://myplasticfreelife.com

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Over the past several weeks, we have been learning about ocean currents and plastic pollution throughout the world. Plastic is used in various ways such as a packaging and is used so often that people don’t even realize that plastics are used in their everyday necessities. People all over the world are beginning to understand plastic pollution and are oust the use of plastic in their everyday life. A solution people often begin with is to begin using a recyclable grocery bags instead of the thin plastics one the store provides for us. After viewing many videos about plastic pollution we have decided to participate in the effort towards decreasing plastic pollution. One action we would consider taking part in, is using recyclable glass bottles and jars for food products such as milk, jams, butters, and condiments. In our households, we go through a lot of milk cartons and plastic containers for food each week. After one year’s time, those plastic products will add up, and will take part in the plastic pollution. Most people think that their non-recycling actions will not affect the world around them because they are only one person, but in retrospect, each person does have an effect in making the world a better place to live.

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