This form allows you to contribute the information needed to construct a DataSheet (opens in a new window). It is normally used by participants in a workshop or similar setting as the first step in producing a complete DataSheet. The mechanics of editing the DataSheet after it is submitted are addressed at the bottom of this page.

If you have information that can help us construct a new DataSheet (even outside the context of a workshop) we welcome your contribution below.

Throughout this form examples of appropriate text are provided in green.


This section should include the title for the datasheet in one of the following formats:

  • Exploring 'x' using 'y' data (where x is a topic and y is the source or type of data).
    Example: Exploring Population Dynamics using National Marine Mammal Laboratory Data.
  • Exploring 'x' data (where x is the data source and/or type)
    Example: Exploring USGS streamflow data


This section should indicate who prepared the datasheet and acknowledge experts consulted or interviewed in the process of preparing the datasheet.

This webpage was created by Heather Rissler in consultation with Bryan Dias of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation.


Email addresses of the activity author(s) separated by commas. These will not be displayed in the activity page but will enable those people to edit the datasheet after it has been submitted. More information about this process can be found at the bottom of the form.


This section should contain links directly to the data as well as the homepage for the site providing the data (when available).

[link 'Access Coral Radioisotope Data']
[link 'Homepage for the World Data Center for Paleoclimatology']

Brief Description of Dataset

This section should contain a brief summary of the data set. The summary should include a brief description of the type of data, how it is presented, and its geospatial extent. There should be enough information for users to decide whether they are interested in exploring the data set.

The site provides processed data in graphical form illustrating salinity, temperature, fluorescence, and density for a transect station in the Gulf of Mexico near Sarasota Springs, FL.

Use and Relevance

This section should discuss the importance of the data, using as little jargon as possible. It should concisely describe how scientists use these data, including what questions they help answer, and how. It should describe why those questions are important to science as well as their relationship to issues effecting society more broadly.

The Mote Marine Laboratory Phytoplankton Ecology Program focuses on microscopic plants in the oceans, many of which produce harmful toxins. The program has a particular focus on the marine dinoflagellate Karenia brevis responsible for the Florida red tide. Eating red tide infected shellfish can be fatal to humans. Red tides are controlled by a variety of factors including nutrient availability and viral infections (see Review). Scientists use data generated from the Phytoplankton Ecology Program to better understand conditions under which red tide blooms develop.

This section serves as a heading for the teaching topics and teaching skills sections below. This section should include a photo representing what the data look like. It should include an introductory sentence of the form:
These data can be used to teach the following topics and skills in 'x' (where 'x' is one or more disciplinary area).

This data can be used to teach the following topics and skills in physical or environmental oceanography:

Teaching Topics

This section contains an unordered list of specific science topics that can be addressed with the data set. Topics are issues or questions that are typically addressed within one or two lecture periods or less. Links to any classroom activities that use this data set should be provided beneath the corresponding topic. These activities should also be listed again in the 'Education Resources' section.
  • Harmful algal bloom dynamics and prediction methods
  • Temperature-depth relationships
  • Relationships between temperature, salinity, and density
  • Understanding the use of CTD casts in making oceanographic measurements

Teaching Skills

This section contains an unordered list of specific skills that students may exercise in working with the data set (such as interpreting vertical transect data and their representation on maps). Activities that can be used to teach these skills in the context of this data set should be linked to beneath the relevant skill. These activities should also be listed again in the 'Education Resources' section.

  • Using data to make hypotheses about factors that may induce algal blooms
  • Using hypotheses to make predictions about factors leading to algal blooms and testing these predictions
  • Using the data to make visualizations of temporal changes
  • Interpreting transect and vertical profile data and their representation on maps

Data Type

This section should explain the nature of the data (e.g. raw, processed, and modeled) and how the data are presented (e.g. graphically, tab-delineated text file).

Raw data are processed and represented as images in GIF format. Images (separate for each measured parameter) are archived for the years 1998 to 2004.

Accessing Data

Explain how to obtain the data. This should include specific guidance on how to find the data within the site and what exactly will be available when they reach the data. As necessary (if guidance is not provided by the data access interface) include descriptions of the fields to address and what the default values will produce.

Access to the data is provided through links to dates of CTD measurements. By choosing a specific date, users gain access to GIF files containing processed data in the form of maps that illustrate transect and vertical profile data.


Data Tools

List and briefly describe data manipulation tools (software) that can be used to work with the data, including any tools that are integrated into the data access site. When possible, provide information on obtaining the tools and links to relevant tutorials and tool documentation.

The USGS site does not provide tools for data manipulation. Raw data can be downloaded and imported into a spreadsheet application such as Excel for further processing. The Starting Point site provides a tutorial for using Excel. Surf your Watershed: An example from Integrating Research and Education that guides users through the EPA's Surf your Watershed tool, which incorporates data from multiple sites, including USGS streamflow data.

Acronyms, Initials, and Jargon

List and define acronyms, initials, or discipline-specific jargon users will encounter.

RAMP = Radarsat Antarctic Mapping Project

Collection Methods

This section should provide details on how the data are collected (including information on instrumentation, transmission of data, and post-processing of data).

Collection methods have varied historically. The U.S. Geological Survey uses stream-gaging systems to measure water height, with data being transmitted to stations via telephone or satellite. Manual methods for directly measuring or inferring streamflow (discharge) data from gage height have been replaced by Acoustic Doppler current profilers that use sound waves to measure velocity, depth, and path (which are used to calculate streamflow rates).

Error and Uncertainty

This section should describe limitations and sources of error related to data collection, and processing as well as limits inherent in any underlying model or representation (e.g. there may be factors relevant to the underlying scientific question that the data set does not explicitly address). It should indicate how these limits cicumscribe the applicability of the data set and conclusions drawn from it. It should be written in clear, direct language to ensure that non-experts will not misinterpret or misapply the data set. When applicable, provide a link to a section of the data site or a reference to a paper discussing error in the particular data set.

Error in MOLA measurements depends on the signal energy, pulse width, background level, and detector noise. By multiplying pulse reflection times by the speed of light, scientists can calculate MGS's altitude above the local terrain to within 30 meters (98 feet) or better. Knowledge of the MGS spacecraft position and the range of accuracy is sufficient to measure the topgraphy in smooth areas to an accuracy of a meter. Changes in topography due to the condensation and sublimation of carbon dioxide frost on the polar caps are measured to an accuracy of about 10-20 cm averaged over the whole of the cap.

References About the Data

List up to 5 key references for scientific research articles which use or are about the dataset. When applicable, this would include a link to a bibliography of the dataset.

A bibliography (link) is available highlighting publications from the Broadband Seismic Data Collection Center.

Education Resources

This section should contain an unordered list of educational resources: references to papers or links to websites that describe using the data in the classroom, or that describe activities using the data. These resources are also included with the appropriate skills and topics in the "Use in Teaching" Section.

Education and Outreach Based on Data from the Anza Seismic Network in Southern California is an article from Seismological Research Letters that describes collaborations amongst scientists and the community to provide earthquake education for the public and local school communities.

Scientific Resources

This section should contain an unordered list of scientific references: review articles or research articles that discuss topics and concepts related to the data set or similar data sets. These articles should be relevant to users who are working with the data set and need additional background on the related science.

  • Earthquake prediction: A seismic shift in thinking is a article from Nature that discusses the debate regarding accuracy in predicting earthquakes.
  • Mantle Convection and Plate Tectonics: Toward an Integrated Physical and Chemical Theory is an article from Science that reviews the physics of plate tectonics.

Pedagogic Resources

This section should contain an unordered list of broader pedagogical references: papers and links describing activities or pedagogical approaches that cover the same science topics addressed by the data set, or address pedagogical concerns relevant to working with the data of this type.

  • The Broadband Seismic Data Collection Center maintains an education section with activities of relevance to students and teachers.
  • The Earth Exploration Toolbook has a chapter on Investigating Earthquakes: GIS Mapping and Analysis that uses USGS and IRIS data to conduct GIS analyses. Users interpret earthquake distribution and activity and analyze the potential for predicting future earthquakes.


This section should explain how to cite use of the dataset.

Related Links

This section should contain an unordered list of any additional websites that may be helpful for users who are interested in the data set described in the datasheet.

  • The Seismological Society of America website contains information on earthquakes and a collection of issues related to teaching about earthquakes.
  • The USGS Earthquakes Hazard Program provides earthquake data and educational activities.
  • An earthquake preparedness fact sheet is available from FEMA.

After you submit this form it will vetted by our staff (mostly to weed out spam) and then made into a web page (via an automated process). Once this web page is available we will let you know the url via email. If you wish you will then be able to update and correct the resulting page. More detail about this process will be included in the notification email and can be found here