Exploring the Deep Ocean with NOAA

Red crinoid; NOAA Ship Nancy Foster; scientist at work; multibeam data

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In 2017, selected lessons and background information from the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection (Volume 1: Why Do We Explore? and Volume 2: How Do We Explore?) were updated for the Exploring the Deep Ocean with NOAA educator professional development workshop. This workshop is designed to encourage educators and their students to become engaged with expeditions and discoveries made by NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and other ships of exploration and thus inspire the next generation of ocean explorers, scientists, and engineers.



Full Lesson Package

Access the Exploring the Deep Ocean with NOAA lesson package (pdf, 17.3 Mb)


PDF files of Individual Lessons

Background Pieces

Lesson Plans

  • "To Boldly Go..."

    This introductory lesson guides student inquiries into modern reasons for ocean exploration including: climate change, energy, human health, ocean health, innovation, research and ocean literacy.

    Hands-on activity: Learning Shapes

    To Boldly Go...Addendum: Optional Learning Shape Fact Sheets
    Note the Diving Deeper section; this section provides more in-depth background information on each of the key Why Do We Explore? topics.

  • What’s the Big Deal?

    (Grades 9-12)

    Students will define methane hydrates and describe where these substances are typically found and how they are believed to be formed. Students will also describe at least three ways in which methane hydrates could have a direct impact on their own lives and describe how additional knowledge of methane hydrates could provide human benefits.

    Hands-on activity: Construct a methane hydrate model.

  • Wet Maps

    (Grades 5-6)

    Focus: Bathymetric mapping

    Students analyze and interpret data to explain how multibeam sonar is used to identify patterns of ocean floor structures, contruct three-dimensional maps, and understand how multibeam sonar technology extends the measurement and exploration capacity of modern ocean exploration. Addendum: Blank Wet Maps Graph, pg 62

    Hands-on activity: Model multibeam sonar mapping

  • Watching in 3-D Activity Package

    (Grades 9-12)

    Focus: Multibeam sonar/Bathymetric Mapping

    Students will learn how multibeam sonar is used to explore and study the shape and composition of the ocean floor and how to analyze and interpret maps of a variety of seafloor features using multibeam sonar data.

    Hands-on activity: Manipulate and analyze seafloor features using authentic mapping software

    This activity package provides: An overview of multibeam sonar, specific case studies with a variety of multibeam sonar 3D image files, guides for student exploration, and step-by-step usage tool guides for the Ocean Exploration Digital Atlas (a searchable, interactive expedition data map) and a free version of Fledermaus, a powerful 3D interactive mapping data visualization software used by ocean explorers.

  • The Oceanographic Yo-yo

    (Grades 7-8)

    Focus: Ocean chemistry and hydrothermal vents

    Students analyze and interpret data from the Okeanos Explorer to make inferences about the possible presence of hydrothermal vents and explain how interaction with hydrothermal vents affects chemical and physical properties of seawater.

    Hands-on activity: Model and analyze a hydrothermal vent

  • Invent a Robot!

    (Grades 5-6)

    Focus: Engineering Design

    Students explain how underwater robots are used in scientific exploration to gather data and help answer questions about the natural world and design and optimize potential solutions for an ocean exploration problem.

    Hands on activity: Build a simple robotic arm


These lessons support the Next Generation Science Standards  and the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts . This does not necessarily mean that a particular lesson fully develops the noted standards, principles, or concepts, but, rather, indicates that an educator may use the information in the lesson as a context or point of departure for addressing those standards.

Why Do We Explore matrix illustrating lesson support for the Next Generation Science Standards

How Do We Explore matrix illustrating lesson support for the Next Generation Science Standards

Exploring the Deep Ocean with NOAA lesson correlations to the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts


For More Information

For more information, please contact the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research Education Team at: oceanexeducation@noaa.gov.