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Using Oceanic Data

Author Profile
This material was originally created for On the Cutting Edge: Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
and is replicated here as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service.
David Hastings, Eckerd College
Course: Advanced Chemical and Physical Oceanography
50 students
Students remember what they have seen and done much better than they remember what you have told them. Working with real, complex data sets is a particularly effective teaching method.

The Activity

I hand out oceanic data from a large data base, such as phosphate, silicate, nitrate, oxgyen, and temperature data from different ocean basins. These data are on small bits of paper. I have small groups of students plot their data and then compare to other small groups that have other data. Some of the data sets are related to each other, but others are not. The nature of these relationships is fundamental to understanding ocean chemistry, biological processes, and physical processes in the ocean (e.g. production, respiration, and ocean circulation).

Additional Information

Using Data to Teach Earth Processes has links to data sets and pedagogical resources for using them.

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