Cutting Edge > Courses > Oceanography > Teaching Activities > Ocean Observing Journal

Ocean Observing Journal

Anne Michelle Wood, University of Oregon
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Summary

Students access a number of sites that provide oceanographic data in real-time or near-real-time at least weekly over the course of a semester or quarter and keep a data log and a journal of changes they see in chlorophyll, SST, and upwelling related variabiles. They focus at the global scale, and in a local scale (Pacific Northwest), interpreting changes in primary production based on material being discussed in class (Spring Transition in California Current System, Indian Ocean Monsoon, Spring Bloom of North Atlantic, Polar Ocean Productivity).

Context

Audience

This can be used at a number of levels although I developed it for an upper division course , "Marine Microbiology: Phytoplankton," offered to Biology Majors. It is also cross-listed as a graduate course.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students need basic computer skills and access to a computer and storage device. Weekly presentations also required some knowledge of PowerPoint. Students need to understand basic role of chlorophyll in cells, why we use chlorophyll as a proxy for productivity, and, at least by mid-term, they need to understand wind-driven circulation, Ekman transport, and the reasons why there are seasonal cycles of productivity in many parts of the Earth.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is an activity that is introduced in the second week of the term after lectures on nutrients and phytoplankton, and at the time that photosynthesis and light begin to be discussed. By week 3, we are talking about factors that get nutrients into the euphotic zone and why there are plankton blooms in different parts of the ocean. When the assignment is first introduced, a lab period is spent visiting all the sites and talking about gliders and other ocean observing technology, a companion lecture discusses satellite oceanography. Students self-identify small groups that will make a weekly presentation for about 10 minutes about what they observed the previous week, and, at the end of the term each student turns in their journal (data pages and notes) along with a two-page summary or synthesis. The exercise is worth 20% of the course grade.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Other skills goals for this activity

Description and Teaching Materials

Two files are included. One is the assignment itself, the second is the excel spreadsheet students started with this term. This is the first time we have done this exercise and I think there are a number of changes I would make to the spreadsheet. The final products the students submitted, however, have been awesome.

Note that the last few pages of the assignment on accessing ocean color data were adapted from a file obtained from the Monterey Bay
Ocean Observing Journal Assgmt (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 3.1MB Jun5 13)



Teaching Notes and Tips

Assessment

References and Resources

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