Teaching Notes

Example Output

Example Output
Map and graph created with Virtual Ocean software. Click on the image for a larger view.

Students will use Virtual Ocean software to produce various outputs for analysis. The example here displays a map and graph of temperature and sediment.

Grade Level

This chapter is most appropriate for grades 9-16.

Learning Goals

After completing this chapter, students will be able to:


Virtual Ocean is a visualization software that allows students to access scientific data about the ocean. Students will learn to navigate and interpret the visualization and data for improving their data literacy skills.

Background Information

Scientists utilize deposits of marine sediments, which, when extracted in a core from the ocean floor, illustrate a rich biological history that can then be interpreted climatologically. For example, some foraminifera species are sensitive to changes in ocean temperature, which might be associated with ice ages and de-glaciation periods (i.e., cooling climates vs. warming climates). There are specific warm water and cool water species that scientists can search for in the marine sediment cores. The vast data, examined across latitudes and longitudes, provides opportunity for dialog on historical global climate change.

Additional Background Information on Paleoclimate and Ocean Drilling

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

Middle and high school students in their first Earth Science class, without any prior biology background, will need some additional background information on foraminifera. In addition, students will also need some background on the geologic time scale. Teachers are encouraged to have students examine foraminifera under a microscope to provide some context for the chapter.

You can find out more about the data collected by and used for marine research at the Marine Geoscience Data System.

Instructional Strategies

Instructors may want to preface this activity by discussing the importance of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum in Earth's climate. If a more constructivist approach to learning is followed, then this activity would provide a good foundation of information about the role foraminifera play in helping scientists reconstruct ocean temperature conditions. This reconstruction allows scientists a glimpse into overall historical global climate conditions (paleoclimate).

Assessment Strategies
Pre-activity Assessment

The following questions can be used to elicit students' pre-existing understandings before the activity.

Post-activity Assessment

The chapter ends with students searching for other ocean cores that contain key PETM foraminifera. Students should be encouraged to focus on a particular core and report on the core's characteristics including:

Science Standards

The following National Science Education Standards are supported by this chapter:

Geography Standards

The following U.S. National Geography Standards are supported by this chapter:

The World in Spatial Terms
1. How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.
2. How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context.
3. How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface.

Other Standards

Project 2061: Benchmarks

Time Required

Approximately 3 full class periods.

Other Resources

Ridge 2000 Program: Exploring the links between Planetary Renewal and Life in the Deep Ocean, R2Khttp://www.ridge2000.org/

Data Acquisition, Processing, Interpretation, and ArchivingUSGS Sea Floor Mapping Sitehttp://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/operations/sfmapping/

NOAA Ocean Explorerhttp://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/

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