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Lesson: Made to Sail

sailboat3In this lesson, students in grades 2 – 7 use simple materials to design and make model sailboats that must stay upright and sail straight in a testing tank. They will learn the basic components of a ship and how design represents a tradeoff between speed, stability, and ease of handling.

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Lesson: Construct a Buoyant Scuba Diver

Scuba SketchScuba diving is an excellent hobby for underwater naturalists. In this lesson, students in grades 6-8 learn about the concepts of buoyancy and how organisms float, sink, or hover in water as they construct a neutrally buoyant “scuba diver.”

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Feature: Tsunami Waves’ Destructive Power

Tsunami Hits MiyakoWater is surprisingly heavy, and, when in motion, it can kill. The tsunami that hit Northern Japan on Friday is an eye-opening example of the power water can have—and the devastation it can bring. “It’s basically like a hundred tanks coming across you,” oceanography professor Philip Froelich says.

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Travel Fellowships for Middle School Teachers

Coral and Coastal EcologyTeachers of grades 6 through 8 from Northrup Grumman communities have a chance to join an expedition either to the Bahamas, to examine coastal ecology, or to the edge of the Arctic, to study climate change.

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Activity: Build a Model Submarine

SubmarineStudents in grades 5-8 learn the basic principle of buoyancy and how submarines use it to dive and ascend in water through creating their own submarine out of a soda bottle, pennies, and other household items. Activity courtesy of the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.

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Lesson: Ballast Systems in Submarines

Submarine With Water and Air Gushing from Ballast TanksThis lesson helps students understand how a submarine controls its buoyancy through the use of ballasts. Students construct a model ballast system, and then learn to control its vent valves to make it submerge and surface.

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Website: Ocean Education Teacher Center

Bridge logoThe Bridge Ocean Education Teacher Resource Center from the National Marine Educators Association offers a host of different resources approved by teachers, for teachers. The website features news, lesson plans, activities, data, publications, virtual expeditions, information on science topics, featured websites, teacher-chosen web resources, help in guiding students, science fairs, student programs, and professional development like workshops, grants, awards, courses, distance learning, and summer programs.

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Website: Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal

tahitiThe Smithsonian Institution’s handsome new Ocean Portal includes information on ocean life and ecosystems, an ocean time line that dates back 3.5 billion years, photo essays, a section on ocean science, news about latest ocean developments, a blog, and videos. The Educators’ Corner offers free lesson plans and resources. This excellent site for teachers and students alike encourages greater public understanding and stewardship.

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Dispersants – a Help or a Hazard?

Oil Slick Off of Louisiana CoastBritish Petroleum is using a series of dispersants to combat the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — chemicals intended to break up the surface tension of an oil slick and make oil more water-soluble. But the contents of some of these chemicals may be toxic to humans and wildlife, according to information newly released by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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