Educator Resources-Lesson Plans-By Topic

Gulf of Mexico Science in the Classroom             

Climate Change



TX-Exploring Aquifers Lessons from 4Empowerment Update: 01.24.12 4Empowerment appears to have removed these resources from their website. We are currently looking for new aquifer lessons and apologize for the inconvenience.

  1. Aquifers & Wells from USGSIntroductory Lesson-Students will be able to learn about groundwater, the location of major Texas aquifers, and the purpose of their location.
  2. Geology of Aquifers-Students will be able to identify the major components of an aquifer, learn to measure water storage in an aquifer, and evaluate water quality.
  3. Water Flow in Aquifers-Students will understand the movement of water through an aquifer, including how and why water storage in an aquifer changes over time.
  4. Watersheds and Aquifers-Students will understand what a watershed is and the relationship between a watershed and an aquifer.
  5. Threats to Aquifer Water- Students will learn the threats to water quantity and quality within an aquifer by human and non-human activities and how these aquifers are vital to the water supply of Texas.
  6. Water Regulations and Policies- Students will understand the basic policy choices faced by Texans, including: regulating pumping, rule of capture, and groundwater districts. Also, they will learn how water is regulated at a national and statewide level.
  7. Conducting an Impact Assessment of a Texas Aquifer-Students will understand the types of changes within an aquifer watershed which impact the aquifer and learn how to assess and evaluate the impact of these changes.

Climate Change

Observing Climate Changes in Your Hometown
Has a changing climate impacted your hometown? Ask students to find an older adult that has lived in the area since s/he was a child.

Pumping Iron-Iron Fertilization
Using data from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, track chemical changes during an upwelling event and investigate the effects of iron enrichment.

Coastal Development

National Geographic Xpeditions-Coastal Development LessonUS Population Map

In this lesson, students will examine two maps that illustrate the tendency for people in the United States to settle near the coasts. They will research some environmental impacts on coastal ecosystems and conclude by writing reports on steps that are being taken to mitigate these impacts in specific parts of the country.

Apalachicola River and Bay Watershed Explorations-Research RangersApalachicola NERR

In this activity, students will be provided with a research scenario and data from the Apalachicola River watershed to work with in performing a scientific analysis and reporting activity. Students will report on methods, results, and conclusions, and make recommendations for modifications of human impacts on the resources of the estuary.

Improving Your Community
In this class session we’ll examine the concept of urbanization from several perspectives. First, we’ll define “city” and “urbanization,” and look at some data on global urbanization trends. Next, we’ll consider the environmental impacts of cities, using the “ecological footprint” concept. We’ll then move from environmental impacts to human health impacts, and discuss how the structure and function of a city—or of any place, really—may affect human health. Finally, we’ll examine the prototypical city of the petroleum era, the sprawling megalopolis, and we’ll analyze its health implications in detail.

Coastal Erosion
Using beach profile data, provided for a beach near you, investigate coastal erosion and sediment transport.

An Island Home
The students will act as owners and developers of a lush, 14-square kilometer tropical island. Groups of students will select the forms and
extent of development on their island by considering the benefits of the development and the risks their actions pose for the island and the

Coral Reefs

The Pros and Cons of Artificial Reefs

Artificial ReefThis lesson asks students to consider whether artificial reefs (human-made objects in the ocean or sea) are good for marine ecosystems. Students will look at pictures of artificial reefs and read articles describing the pros and cons of these structures. They will conclude by writing paragraphs explaining whether they think a new artificial reef should be created in "Florida" waters.

The Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Habitat Expedition-Design a Reef!Photo Courtesy of Gulf of Mexico Foundation

This activity is designed to acquaint students with some of the ecological roles that are typical of coral reefs, and to provide a basis for student inferences
about the ecology of deep-water reef communities.

Coral Bleaching
Students will assess coral bleaching using water temperature data from the NOAA National Data Buoy Center.

Submersed in Underwater Technology-Submersibles
Calculate and assess coral mortality data collected during an underwater research expedition from Aquarius and Jason.

CSI on the Deep Reef (Chemotrophic Species Investigations, that is...)
Focus question: What factors are indicative of chemotrophic nutritional strategies?

Activities center on this question: What environmental conditions are necessary to ensure the success of spawning deep water reef fishes?

Design a Reef!
This activity is designed to acquaint students with some of the ecological roles that are typical of coral reefs, and to provide a basis for student inferences
about the ecology of deep-water reef communities.

Coral Spawning Globe (pdf)
Create a reverse snow globe that recreates spawning on the reef.


Motion in the OceanWave Art
Students will identify the primary causes for ocean currents and waves. They will be able to explain how and why ocean currents vary with increasing latitude and the cause of the Coriollis effect, including how this influences ocean currents.

Ready, Set, Drift!
Focus Question: How can navigators of ships and boats predict and compensate for the effects of coastal ocean currents?

Earth Science

Plate Boundaries-Seismic Activity
Students will outline the location of plate boundaries using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Accoustic Monitoring Program's underwater earthquake data.

The Movement of Water
Students will learn what a watershed is, how it moves in a community, the processes and how it affects the land.

Cold one day, Warm Another?-Upwelling
Using water temperature and wind vector data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Field Research Facility explore trends in nearshore upwelling.

Map Puzzles
Students make puzzles from world maps, dramatizing how much of the globe is covered by ocean.

Water Cycle Video
Watch the video to learn about the cycle of water and then use this interactive worksheet to experience it first hand.

Chemistry in the Gulf of Mexico
In this guide, you will find information that relates principles from a basic chemistry class to actual processes occurring in the ocean. This guide will focus on four of these processes. The information and activities are intended for use at the 11th to 12th grade levels. (Site may take a few minutes to load)

Echoes: What Animals Can Teach Scientists
In this lesson, students will learn how scientists like Robert Ballard use sonar to investigate the depths of the ocean. They will learn that some animals have an unusual way of figuring out what is around them in the dark. They will study the echolocation capabilities of bats and think about how ocean scientists can learn from these animals to develop deep-sea exploration techniques.



Once Upon a TideOnce Upon a Tide Student Worksheet

Work with your students to help a young girl learn about how the ocean protects humans, and the threats that it faces. Watch Once Upon a Tide as a class and ask your students to follow along with the story by filling in the fifteen blank terms in the worksheet.

A Cornucopia?-Aquaculture
Compare aquaculture production statistics for the U.S. and Canada to evaluate the demand for fisheries products.

Global Invaders
In this activity, students will research invasive species in the United States and then investigate the presence and effects of invasive species in their own community.

The Web of Life
Students will be able to identify some animals and plants found at in a coastal habitat community or related wetland areas and to describe how they are interdependent on each other.

The Everglades Spending Plan-Water Budgets & the Hydrologic Cycle
Click HERE for student packet!
This activity will acquaint students with the hydrologic cycle and introduce
watersheds and water budgets. Students will realize that water is a limited
resource and that they will have to consider competing interests as they allocate this resources.

Islands of Life
This packet describes the ecological relationships that have developed in association with offshore oil and gas platforms. Basic ecological principles are noted and defined. Technical terms are in bold print and can be found in the glossary located at the end of the document. Common names of organisms are used with scientific names provided in italics; a summary listing of organisms referenced in the text is provided. Finally, as an introduction to environmental policy, the pieces of legislation most important to the Gulf of Mexico are
listed and described as to how they came about and their intended effects.

The Ocean's Sand, A Natural Resource
Booklet and activities. Activities include: Make a Beach Profile, Analyze Grain Types, Do a Sand Size Analysis, and Analyzing Sediment Size Distribution.

Volunteer Monitoring
This lesson will introduce students to the concept of ecosystem monitoring, using environmental monitoring efforts in the Monterey Bay and the Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuaries as examples. Students will share their ideas about the importance of ecosystem monitoring and what it entails.

SIMoN Says
This lesson is an extension to Volunteer Monitoring—Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. In that lesson, students explored the concept of monitoring and how it can improve our understanding of our relationship with the environment. To understand this concept, students were told to think of other types of monitoring, such as tools that doctors use to understand different aspects of people's health (e.g., blood pressure cuff, thermometer, scale, etc.). In this lesson, students will further explore this analogy by considering how tools can be used together to give a broader and fuller understanding of a person's (and an ecosystem's) health.

How Diverse is That?
Focus question: What do ecologists mean when they say a biological community is “diverse?”


Estuaries101Estuaries 101

Using the Estuaries 101 curriculum, teachers will be able to teach their students about Earth System Science using coastal and ocean data. Through this curriculum—which includes interactive investigations, field studies, and data analysis—teachers and students will learn that estuaries provide shelter, spawning grounds, and food for many species, that they act as buffers to improve water quality, reduce the effects of floodwaters, and prevent erosion, and that coastal areas provide value to humans in the form of recreation, scientific knowledge, aesthetics, commercial and recreational fishing, and transportation (Thayer et al., 2003). 


Exploring Tampa Bay: A Teacher's Guide to Florida's Largest Estuary
The Teacher's Guide includes six units which features handouts for students with information and fast facts, brain teasers to test the student's Bay IQ and classroom activities. Resources and a glossary for kids are also provided.


Building an Oyster Reef: A 3-D Activity
Students will learn about oysters, oyster reefs (natural and engineered) and the many animals that depend on them for habitat. Students will also have the opportunity to build their own three-dimensional reefs.

Ooze Clues-Diatom Ooze
Plot the distribution of various oozes using information from sediment maps.

Lesson Plans from COSEE
Sections Include: Habitats & Organisms, Coastal Processes
Recommended Lessons Include: Life of a Coral Reef Fish, Red Tides, Effects of Hurricanes on Louisiana Wetlands, Hypoxic Zones & Salinity, Marshes, Seawater Bacteria, Effects of Hurricanes on Coasts, Large Pelagic Fish, Seagrass Beds, and Wetlands & Coastal Marshes.

Living Shorelines
Students will learn about the use of engineered oyster reefs as living shorelines to prevent coastal erosion. Students will view examples of living shorelines and experiment with creating one of their own.

Who harvests seaweeds? $$$eaweeds
Using data from the United Nation's Food & Agriculture Organization and TradeDataNet, students will explore harvest and production data of seaweed around the world.

Then & Now-Using Aerial Photography to Measure Habitat Changes
Students will compare aerial photographs that are of a community and were taken 50 years apart. They will identify features resulting from human settlement. Using a transparent grid, they will next measure and then discuss changes to wildlife habitat that have occurred over time as a result of human population growth.

Fish Tank Territories
Students will observe swimming and resting patterns of aquarium fishes to determine how different parts of the habitat are used.

Gulf of Mexico Offshore Oases
In this guide, you will find information that focuses on the various seafloor
habitats and the geology that drives them, as well as the marine animals associated with these extraordinary systems. This guide will focus on three specific habitat features. The information and activities are intended for use in grades 6-12. (This site may take a few minutes to load)

Restore it? A lesson in restoration ecology
Students will explore the science of restoration ecology, view examples of restoration projects and give a class presentation on a restoration project they have researched.


Biodiversity Unit-Shaman Pharmaceuticals Strategic Planning Session
This lecture will review some of the ways that plant, animal, and microbial species support human health, and by their interactions with each other and with their inorganic environment provide various ecosystem services making all life, including human life, possible on Earth.

Climate Change and the Cryosphere Unit-Examining the Connection Between Emerging Diseases and Climate Change
Have the students write and present a basic report about an emergent or re-emergent disease, such as Lyme disease or schistosomiasis. Is climate change an important factor in its spread? Why or why not?

Harmful Algal Blooms
Students will compare concentrations of harmful algal blooms using NOAA's Coastal Services Center Harmful Algal Bloom Forecasting (HABF) Project data.

Mercury is Rising
Calculate the amount of fish a person can eat per month in order to stay within acceptable limits of the EPA's mercury guidlines.

What's in that Cake?
Focus: Exploration of deep-sea habitats.

Hypoxic Zone

Dead Zone

A Marine Horror Story-The Dead Zone
Track the Dead Zone using water quality data from the Nutrient Enhanced Coastal Ocean Productivity (NECOP) Program.

On Again, Off Again-The Dead Zone
The purpose of the following series of activities is to help students visualize the dead zone and to provide them with dissolved oxygen (DO) data to analyze and interpret. Students will plot and analyze DO from the July 23-28, 1993, scientific cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. The activities are designed to engage the students individually, within a group and as a class to plot, observe, analyze and interpret several different spatial slices of the dead zone.

Marine Life

Manatee Activities from Louisiana Marine Education Resources 
Learn how to make a manatee model with your students and help researchers track these species by exploring past data on manatee sightings.

More than Mud-Amphipods
Examine the effects of pollution on amphipods using data from the Chesapeake Ecotox Research Program.

Fish Communities: National Marine Sanctuaries Fish
Compare and contrast fish communities, diversity and habitats in U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries.

For the Birds!
Compare marine bird sighting report data from the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC).

Sea Turtles Nest! Sea Turtles Hatch!
Explore sea turtle nesting data from Watamu/Malindi Park in Kenya. The site includes information on Sea Turtle Species of the World.

For the Love of Fish-Seafood
Explore seafood management and conservation options and issues.

Into the Ocean
In this lesson, students will be encouraged to learn more about the special adaptations of animals with which they are already familiar. It will introduce students to different ocean depths and to the ways in which animals have adapted to live at different depths.

Whales & Dolphins of the Gulf of Mexico
This packet provides teachers with information on whales and dolphins that occur in the Gulf, including basic biology and governmental protection of these animals. The MMS’s role in our understanding of the Gulf’s whales and dolphins is also featured. Suggested activities for the classroom are included. (Site may take a few minutes to load)

Fish & Kids Education Pack
Curriculum-linked resources to help you teach Science and Geography at key stages 1 and 2. The pack also contains activities linked to schemes of work for English and Citizenship at KS2. *In order to get to the Education Pack you must first visit the "Fish & Kids" link and then download the Education Pack which broken into smaller sections for easier download.*

Virtual Beachcomber
Students will explore habitats and creatures virtually on-line in the classroom. They will classify what they find, while they explore.

Tina Tern- "A Life on a Rooftop Beach"
Follow Tina Tern (a baby Least Tern) to learn about coastal birds and their habitats and then engage in hands-on activities to learn more!

Chemosynthetic Communities
Its purpose is to assist teachers in introducing the topic of chemosynthetic communities and other ecological concepts to students at the middle and high school levels. (Site may take a few minutes to load)

Chemosynthesis for the Classroom
Focus Question: What changes affect succession in the development of chemosynthetic bacterial communities?

Empty Oceans
Focus Questions include: How does the human population affect the population of marine species? What can citizens do to sustain seafood populations?

Life is Weird
Focus Question: What organisms are typically found in cold seep communities, and how do these organisms interact?

Fish Aren't Afraid of The Dark!
In this lesson, students will be introduced to the concept of bioluminescence and will consider how animals benefit from having their own light sources. They will look at pictures of bioluminescent marine animals, and will conclude by making collages or writing stories pretending they have just seen bioluminescent animals from a deep sea vehicle.

Ocean Exploration

Don't Even Sink About It!-Buoyancy Activity   
With this hands-on introduction to teaching buoyancy from the Bridge website and COSEE-NOW, students work through activities and demonstrations that use online resources and ocean observing systems data to investigate the buoyancy considerations of commercial shipping.

Come on Down!
Students will research the development and implementation of a research vessel/vehicle used for deep ocean exploration. Then they will calculate the density of objects by determining the mass and volume. Lastly, students will construct a device that exhibits neutral buoyancy.

Using Photography to Help Save the Oceans
In this lesson, students will learn about the importance of ocean conservation. They will think about how photography can help humans understand the impact they are having on the oceans by looking at the photography of David Doubilet. They will look at animals that are endangered because of human behavior, and choose one to study in depth. Finally, students will draw the animal they choose and describe why it is in peril and how it can be protected.

Why is Oceanography Important?
Students will learn about some of the important discoveries that oceanographers have made and some areas that they are still investigating. They'll use two Web sites to gather this information, including National Geographic's Blue Frontier site. They will conclude by making posters explaining how oceanography is used and why it's important.

Life at Sea: Careers in Marine Science
This lesson will help students learn more about recent advances in the study of sea life and how the people who do this work may ultimately affect the sea—its health and inhabitants. Students will investigate different careers in ocean study.

What we can Learn from Maps
The first part of the Development section has students create maps of their states showing areas of corn or wheat production. The purpose of this activity is to teach students how maps can show specific distributions, such as those of human activities or animal populations. They will then transfer what they've learned to an exercise in mapping the ocean->Using Maps in Ocean Research
In this lesson, students will consider a number of ocean research scenarios and determine how mapping might help answer questions related to that research.

Historic Shipwrecks of the Gulf of Mexico-A Teacher's GuideShipwreck

This lesson could be used in units on commerce, maritime transportation, or technology. It can be used to help students learn about the maritime industry along the Gulf Coast of the United States in the nineteenth century or to understand the importance of merchant steamships in the settlement of the Texas Gulf Coast. (PDF may take a few minutes to load)

Oil Industry & Spills

Learning About the Gulf Oil Leak in the Lab
From the NY Times-The Learning Network. In this lesson, students consider the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and related cleanup efforts. They then design and execute experiments to learn more about the effects of oil spills, and apply their findings to the coastal communities in the gulf region. Finally, they explore the economic and political impacts of the oil spill as well as the technological progress toward stopping the leak.

Oil RigLiquid Density and Oil Spills
Students will conduct a simple experiment demonstrating the variable densities of corn syrup, water, glycerin, and vegetable oil. Students will then transfer this concept to an examination of cleanup methods used in the Exxon Valdez oil spill. They will conclude by writing paragraphs hypothesizing what would happen during an oil spill if oil and water were the same density and therefore mixed together easily. From National Geographic.

Bird Baths: Cleaning Up Wildlife After Oil Spills
Students will explore the causes and effects of events such as oil spills and contaminations. They will then experience first-hand the feel of oil spills, determine an environmental problem that affects their community, and develop an "action plan" to minimize the risk to one form of wildlife. Finally, they will examine ways in which public and private organizations partner to keep the environment, and its wildlife, healthy. From National Geographic.

OilSpillHuman Impact
The Gulf of Maine Aquarium provides the following lessons: Save the Bay, Oil Consumption, and How big is an oil tanker? Students will demonstrate an oil spill in a jar, calculate the amount of oil their families use, and visualize through hands-on activities the size of an oil tanker.

Ocean Planet: Pollution Solution
Students will work together to research oil spills, predict the effects of an oil spill on a marine environment, and establish a list of solutions to avoid unnecessary oil pollution.

Sediment Penetration Exercise
From NOAA: In oil spill response, differences among oils in whether and how they penetrate into different sediments is important. These differences affect predictions of whether the oil is likely to remain on the surface if it hits the beach, or to penetrate to some degree into the beach sediment. This experiment uses molasses to simulate a heavy oil, such as a fuel oil for ships, and mineral oil to simulate a lighter oil, such as a light crude or diesel oil. This exercise provides context on how different types of oil react uniquely with the environment, effecting clean-up approaches.

Caution: Fix It!
From NOAA: The main question answered in this lesson is-How can resource managers and concerned public groups repair coastal resources damaged by human activity or natural events? Objectives include: 1) Students will be able to give at least three examples of natural events and human activities that injure coastal resources. 2) Students will be able to describe at least three cases in which injured coastal resources have been restored by human activity. 3) Students will be able to describe at least three ways that people have been able to contribute to coastal resource restoration.

OilSpillExperiment to Clean Up an Oil Spill
From the Australian Maritime Safety Authority: Do you want to try cleaning up an oil spill yourself? This experiment will help you understand why it is such a difficult task. All of the tools you will need are environmentally friendly and easy to find.

Experiment Demonstrating Oil Bioremediation

From the Australian Maritime Safety Authority: In bioremediation you need: oil eating organisms (bugs), nutrients, oxygen, water and the food "oil". This demonstration shows what goes on inside diesel fuel tanks of trucks and cars to cause sludge and blockage of fuel filters, the reason some home fuel oil heating systems stop working, and why power stations in remote settlements sometimes break down when bacterial sludge blocks injectors, pumps and fuel lines.

OilRigHow would an oil spill affect a Marine Sanctuary?
From the Moneterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. In this investigation, students consider the criteria used to assess damage to natural resources and mitagation measures when a large scale environmental threat, such as an oil spill, occurs.

Prince William's Oily Mess: A Tale of Recovery
From NOAA. Here you will find resources related to the Exxon-Valdez oil spills and more. Categories include: Ideas for the classroom, printable materials, links to lesson plans, online resources for teacher, National Science Education Standards and Scilinks Icon Information.

What Happens When An Oil Spill Occurs?
From McDougal Littell. An interactive experience through visual and written content to explore the effects of an oil spill.

National Geographic Oil Spill Resources
Activities feature film clips, maps, and photography from National Geographic’s collection of online articles and visuals about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. They are broken out by grades and lesson topics include: sea turtles, birds, mangroves, and more.

Alaska Oil Spill Curriculum
The entire curriculum is available for download! From the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council.

COSEE: Oil Spill in the Gulf Educational Resources
This series of PowerPoints and hands-on activities is designed for teachers to use in their classrooms to help discuss the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Teachers can decide which activities and topics to include, download the appropriate PowerPoint, and then modify the PowerPoint according to their class level and the time available.

TarballThe Ohio Resource Center: The Science of Oil Spills
Here you'll find a set of materials broken out by grade level to examine the oil spill through a variety of lenses. Podcasts, lessons, activities, books, blogs, and more. Very comprehensive!

Oil Spill Resources & Curricula from the National Environmental Education Foundation
The resources and curricula provided here offer students and educators an opportunity to explore the effects of oil spills on people, wildlife and ecosystems, investigate clean up strategies and reflect on ways to prevent future environmental catastrophes of this scale.

Self-Contained Gulf Oil Spill Kit
From "Ocean and You" comes an oil spill cleanup exercise that tasks the educator with using sand and a map of the Gulf for a more realistic experience.

The SWAMP School Oil Spill Courses & CurriculumsBoom
The Swamp School has published a new environmental science curriculum "The Gulf Oil Spill ‐ A natural and physical science curriculum for middle school." Courses include wetland hydrology design, introduction to wetlands, and more.


Nonpoint Source Pollution Unit from 4Empowerment
(Organized in Sequence. Teachers can choose to do one, a few, or all lessons; they are able to stand alone.)

  1. The Movement of Water
    Students will identify a watershed and understand its processes and relate water movement in a watershed to local topography.
  2. The Consequences of Water Movement
    Students will learn about nonpoint source pollution and understand the threats to water quality within a watershed by human activities.
  3. The Impact of Nonpoint Source Pollution
    Students will participate in hands-on activities to understand the impacts of nonpoint source polution-Dissolved Oxygen Activities, Water Clarity & Turbidity Activities, and Conductivity Activities.
  4. Nonpoint Source Pollution Within Your Own Home
    Students will identify household hazardous wastes and discover ways these wastes can contribute to nonpoint source pollution. This lesson educates students to help encourage more environmentally friendly practices.
  5. Best Management Practices for Nonpoint Source Pollution
    Students will research and assess different agricultural and urban management strategies to reduce nonpoint source pollution.
  6. Decision Making: How Will You Protect Your Watershed from Nonpoint Source Pollution
    Students will evaluate and determine best nonpoint source pollution management
    strategies for local watersheds.

Pollution SolutionPollution Solutions

Students will understand the following:

1. The threat to water ecosystems is a complex problem because many factors contribute to their pollution and destruction.
2. The following factors all play major roles in the pollution and destruction of water ecosystems: PCBs, DDT, metylmercury chloride, sewer sludge, thermal effluents, radioactive wastes, destruction of marshlands, and beach erosion.
3. Methods to combat the above factors exist.
4. More methods are being developed and need to be developed.

Flotsam and Jetsam: A Little Litter Goes a Long Way
Using data from the International Coastal Cleanup, identify sources of marine debris and impacts of this debris on wildlife.

Don't Cry over Spilled Oil
Students will investigate the Exxon Valdez oil spill, evaluate the clean up procedures and understand long term effects of an oil spill on an ecosystem.

Keep Away
Focus: Effects of pollution on diversity in benthic communities.


Haunted by Hurricanes
Determine if the frequency and intensity of hurricanes are changing using data from the National Hurricane Center.

Without an Ark-Floods
Investigate the impacts of a hurricane on the New River in North Carolina using streamflow data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Sea Level

Sea Level RiseUnderstanding Sea Level Using Real Data
Five lessons at increasing levels of sophistication incorporate real data from NOAA to help students understand how sea level is measured and monitored.

Future Sea Level Art Installation
Students will conduct an art installation using gaffer’s tape, wrapping a building at a height of 1 meter to depict the possible consequence of continued human induced global climate change. Complementary in-class and at-home assignments will be given to ensure understanding of climate change concepts. (pdf)


Ups and Downs
Students will be able to explain and model forces that cause and affect tides. They will be able to analyze variations in tidal patterns and water levels in selected areas, and infer and discuss some conditions that may have influenced these variations.The end result will be a better understanding and ability to communicate how tides affect our lives and the importance of monitoring tides.

Water Quality    

Water Stories: Interpreting the Babblings of Water Unit-4Empowerment Lessons
(Organized in Sequence. Teachers can choose to do one, a few, or all lessons; some are able to stand alone.)

  1. What are our waterways? -Students will identify the waterways found in their state.
  2. Where does the water come from?-Students will use a topographical map, learn about stormwater runoff, trace their local watershed, and learn how geography and potential pollution sources of a watershed are important when determining the human impact on the waterway.
  3. Where does the water go?-Students learn the local human history and development that impacts and is impacted by waterways, how water is a limited resource and discover how much water we use each day.
  4. What is the quality of this water?-Also, part of the Nonpoint Source Pollution lessons. Students will identify household hazardous wastes and ways these wastes can contribute to nonpoint source pollution.
  5. Who relies on this water?-Students will understand the inhabitants of an aquatic habitat, the importance of biodiversity & riparian habitats and determine the major threats to water quality of the local waterways.
  6. What story does this water have to tell?-Students will understand the interacting natural and human systems that are connected to waterways.

Graphing Calculator Applications Unit-4Empowerment(Organized in Sequence. Teachers can choose to do one, a few, or all lessons; some are able to stand alone.)

  1. Graph & CalculatorApplying Graphing Calculators to Water Quality Data
    This lesson will provide insight into how scatter plots are used to define relationships between various parameters, while creating scatter plot graphs on the graphing calculator. Exercises challenge the students to use this information not only to create graphs using the calculator, but also predict the graph based on what they have learned about data relationships and graph functions. Finally, additional activities encourage students to take this same process and apply it to other water quality parameters.
  2. Applying Graphing Calculators to Garbology Data
    This lesson will provide insight into how pie charts are used to demonstrate the ratio of variable parameters to an overall data set. In addition, students will learn how distribution graphs can assist in decision-making and problem solving processes.
  3. Using the Graphing Calculators to Compare Site Information
    This lesson will provide insight into how bar graphs are used to demonstrate the differences between ecological parameters at various sites. The exercises will challenge the students to use the bar graphs to characterize the sites based on differences in the water quality data.
  4. Applying Biological Data to Graphing Calculator Exercises
    This lesson will provide insight on how macroinvertebrate communities respond to environmental stresses and the human induced impacts that undermine the integrity of these communities. The examples and exercises in this lesson use the graphing techniques from the previous three units, inserting macro invertebrate data into the analysis.

Education Action Kit-Blue Planet Run
Lessons Include: 100 Uses of Water, Dino Water: The Water Cycle, How Do You Measure Up, Tap Into Water: Your Body Needs It, Waterborne Diseases, Water in the News, and Water Think Tank.

Pass the buoy and the pepper please-Water Conductivity
Using real-time data from buoys around the coastal U.S., students will explore the effects of salts in the water, as well as the effects of other parameters on the conductivity of the water.


Waves: An Alternative Energy Source
Evaluate the feasibility of wave energy as a practical alternative energy source using ocean observing system (OOS) buoys.

Forecast Conditions at Sea: Sea State
Cast real time sea state conditions using buoys from NOAA's National Data Buoy Center.


Wetland in a Pan
Students make a model that demonstrates the flood-buffering and filtering effects of wetlands.

Wetlands Unit from 4Empowerment
(Organized in Sequence. Teachers can choose to do one, a few, or all lessons; some are able to stand alone.)

  1. Critter Clippers
    Students will learn the characteristics and ecology of common wetland animals.
  2. In the Gutter
    Students will be able to demonstrate: how wetlands slow down water velocity, how wetlands absorb water and act as storm buffers and how wetlands are necessary to buffer the affects of run-off.
  3. Don't Spill the Beans
    Students will be introduced to species area curve models and develop their own species area curve.
  4. Rolling Down the River-An Obstacle Course
    Students will learn how freshwater travels through Texas waterways to the Gulf of Mexico, including concepts of sedimentation and bed load.
  5. Water We Doing Here-Exploring Aquifers
    Students will identify the location of 9 major aquifers in Texas.

Hopscotch Migration
Students will understand the use of the wetlands by migrating birds and identify causes for disappearance of the wetlands.

Math & Science in a Wetland
Students will be exploring, analyzing and modeling a wetland to gain a greater understanding of their importance to Coastal ecosystems.

At Home in the Marsh
Students will complete a marsh scene with pictures of animals and plants provided in the lesson.

Flood Storage
Students will observe how different soil components – peat, sand, gravel, and potting soil – vary in their capacity to absorb and hold water. They will observe how peat, a component of some wetland soils, is exceptional at absorbing large quantities of water.