Gulf of Mexico 2018

Classroom Lessons

Classroom lessons and learning tools relevant to the expedition are listed below by grade level. Although some of these resources may have been developed for past expeditions conducted in other regions of the world ocean, the Focus Questions and Student Learning Objectives are applicable to the current expedition.


Grades 6-8

How Do Your Corals Grow?

Grade Level: 5-6
Focus: Growth and Structure of Lophelia Coral Colonies (Life Sciences)

Students plan and carry out an investigation using models to explain how the branching structure of Lophelia coral colonies may affect the corals’ ability to take in food; communicate results of this investigation and cite evidence to support inferences about the relationship between the structure of Lophelia coral colonies and the feeding function of individual coral polyps. Students analyze and interpret data from photographic images and use concepts of proportion and scale to estimate the growth rate of Lophelia coral colonies.

Strange Life

Grade Level: 6-8
Focus: Biological organisms in cold-seep communities (Life Science/Chemistry)

Students obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about flows and cycles of energy in cold-seep ecosystems; develop a model that describes some of the interdependent relationships in cold-seep ecosystems; and develop and use a model to explain states and changes between states of methane hydrates.


Grades 9-12

What’s the Big Deal?

Grade Level: 9-12
Focus: Significance of methane hydrates (Earth Science)

Students define methane hydrates, describe where these substances are typically found, and explain how they are believed to be formed; ask questions to clarify evidence that methane hydrates could be involved with changes to Earth systems; and describe how additional knowledge of methane hydrates during Ocean Exploration and Research expeditions could provide human benefits.

Lessons from the Deep: Exploring the Gulf of Mexico's Deep-Sea Ecosystems Education Materials Collection

A selection of lessons from eleven OER-sponsored expeditions to explore deep-sea organisms and ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico, plus lessons and additional background on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout event.


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection

This lesson collection was developed to encourage educators and students to become personally involved with the voyages and discoveries of NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer – America’s first Federal ship dedicated to ocean exploration. The Education Materials Collection is presented in two volumes:

  • Volume 1: Why Do We Explore? (Grades 5-12)
    This volume of 16 lessons focuses on modern reasons for ocean exploration, providing background information on key topics of Ocean Exploration including Climate Change, Energy, Human Health, and Ocean Health.

  • Volume 2: How Do We Explore? (Grades 5-12)
    This volume of 11 lessons focuses on modern exploration tools used aboard the ship: telepresence, multibeam sonar, water column investigations and underwater robots.

Several of these lessons are also provided in Spanish and are also available.