Instructor Materials: Overview of the Ocean Sustainability Module
Module Goal: Our goal is for students to gain an appreciation of the complexity of ocean processes and the need to study them, and to make students aware of our dependence on and responsibility for the largest habitat on Earth.
Module Summative Assessment: Students will demonstrate their integrated understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of ocean systems and describe how human activities influence these aspects by creating a fact sheet. The fact sheets also will predict oceanographic changes that will result from modern climate change and conclude with proposing and supporting long-term strategies designed to protect ocean resources and preserve the state of the ocean. Read more about the summative assessment.
In this unit, students will be introduced to the basic facts related to the physical and biological aspects of our ocean (e.g. geography of oceans, temperature, salinity, pH, habitats, and ecosystems). Topics will cover ocean functionality including climate moderation via circulation, carbon sinks and photosynthesis as an oxygen source.
In this unit, students will learn about ocean pH buffering systems. Students will examine pH data and determine magnitudes of global changes in ocean chemistry. Students will discuss the effects of pH changes on the shell/skeleton resiliency and calcification rate of carbonate-secreting organisms.
In this unit, students learn about the functional role organisms have in communities, and what factors drive ecosystem diversity, function, and resilience. Students will define ecological roles of organisms within the ecosystem, examine behavioral strategies related to survival rates, and characterize food web dynamics.
In this unit, students will examine the effects climate changes have on the "ecosystem sentinels" of the Pacific Ocean—gray whales. Students will consider recent scientific studies and examine maps displaying migratory behavior, hypothesizing how changes can be caused by oceanographic features such as sea surface temperature and primary production.
In this unit, students will review current oceans pressures related to overfishing, pollution, and human impacts on ocean ecosystems. Students will review scientific data to assess biomass, biodiversity, and migration patterns of fish in a Marine Protected Area and propose a location for the establishment of a marine reserve in the Channel Islands.
In this capstone unit, students apply the knowledge and content from Units 1–5 to investigate ways to contribute to the protection and preservation of the oceans. Students will examine their own lifestyle choices and relate them to effects from small to large within oceanic systems.
Making the Module Work
To adapt all or part of the Ocean Sustainability module for your classroom, you will also want to read through
- Instructor Stories, which detail how the Ocean Sustainability module was adapted for use at three different institutions, as well as our guide to
- Adapting InTeGrate Modules and Courses for Your Classroom, which outlines how to effectively use InTeGrate modules and courses.