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Oceans Instructional Materials - Athena Project

The Athena Project have put together two wonderful interactive, guided inquiry learning activities that take advantage of oceanographic data placed on the World Wide Web.

In "Tracking Drifter Buoys", students "experience" how oceanographers use devices called drifter buoys to track ocean currents. Students are presented with detailed information to learn how drifter buoys measure ocean currents. Students also learn about satellite imagery of ocean topography. Students are presented with a dataset of information to plot on a map. After this practice activity, students must use information from spreadsheet files to locate the Gulf Stream. Science journal activities are also included. This activity is appropriate for both middle and high school students.

"Ocean Color" is an activity that can be used in any K-12 science classroom. This activity examines how scientists interpret satellite imagery. Students create a map which identifies different productivity levels in the ocean and identify areas of continental vegetation.


WhaleNet is a collaborative project of the biology departments at Wheelock College and Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. It is an educational site devoted to whales, whale research, the marine habitat, and environmental studies.

Students are encouraged to use telecommunications tools to ask researchers questions on-line in the "Ask a scientist" area.

The Satellite Tagging Observation Program (STOP) electronically tracks whales to study their movements and migrations. STOP includes data and observations including satellite tracking maps. Teachers are able to download a variety of tracking maps for use in their classrooms. Curricular lesson plans are included to guide the study of the range of whale movement during their migrations.

This web site also contains classroom activities in which students study the relationships between whales and their marine habitat.

At the WhaleNet web site, students can read logs of oceanographic research vessels. These logs can be used in a variety of activities with K-12 students including graphing a ship's position by plotting coordinate data on a map, analyzing meteorological data such as wind speed, air temperature, water temperature, barometric pressure, relative humidity, and classifying the plants and animals encountered by the research vessels on their voyages.

WhaleNet also contains an area of curricular activities which provide ideas on how to use the WhaleNet data and information for a variety of topics including navigation, water testing, plankton tow and analysis, data collection, photo identification of whales, bathymetry, topographic models of the ocean bottom, marine pollution, and data analyses.

Collaboration between K-12 classrooms worldwide is encouraged with an on-line listserv at the WhaleNet web site.

This web site also contains a multimedia collection of whale movies and images that can be used by teachers as visual resources in their science classrooms.


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