Exploring Ocean Resources in Our Everyday Lives

Janelle Sikorski, Miami University-Oxford, Ohio
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Initial Publication Date: May 31, 2013 | Reviewed: January 17, 2015


Students are asked to keep a food diary for 24 hours and then asked to analyze the products they consumed in terms of the ocean resources needed to make and deliver that product. This assignment was designed to help develop ocean literacy for students learning oceanography in a landlock classroom.

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This activity is used in a lower division undergraduate oceanography course mostly for non-science majors. The average course enrollment is 90 students. The course meets twice a week for 75 minutes.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

No content prerequisites are required for this activity.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is assigned during the first week of our 15 week course. It is a stand alone activity.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  • Students should be able to discriminate between extractive and non-extractive ocean resources used in products from their everyday lives.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  • Application of acquired knowledge

Other skills goals for this activity

  • self-directed learning
  • written communication

Description and Teaching Materials

To complete this activity students need access to the activity worksheet, selected reading related to the different types of ocean resources, and internet access.

oceanography food diary activity (Microsoft Word 104kB May31 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Although this is a stand alone activity, I recommend asking your students to list or explain to you the ways they think they are connected to the ocean prior to assigning this activity. Past experiences with students taught me that they had a difficult time answering this question and initial responses where somewhat superficial. The students recognized they couldn't identify many connections and were more willing to engage with this activity after our discussion because they wanted to increase their awareness about ocean resources.


This activity is collected and graded for points toward the final course grade. Successful assignments will recognize that all products they consume (not just seafood) depend on ocean resources. Ocean resources, such as petroleum, are used to make, package, and ship all products.

References and Resources

Oceanography textbook: Essentials of Oceanography 6th edition by Tom Garrison, Thompson Brooks/Cole, 2011; specifically Chapter 15, p.348-365-marine resources