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Water Layering and Circulation

data | hook | main | background & resources | student

Author Contact Information

Dena Rosenberger
El Capitan High School
10410 Ashwood
Lakeside, CA  92040


Students will use tinted hot water, cold water, and cold salty water to examine relationships and interactions between these different types of water. From this process, students will understand some of the factors that drive the ocean currents and how currents interact.

Grade Level/Discipline
This activity would be suitable for middle school earth science or physical science and high school environmental science, oceanography/marine science, or biology.

National Standards
This activity applies to National Standards in Science N.S.9-12.1,4,and 6. This activity applies to California State Science Standards in Investigation and Experimentation 1d,g, and l; and Earth Science 4b and 4d.

Pre-activity set-up
If the teacher has PowerPoint capabilites, go through the slides prior to the activity since they differ from the student handout.

-At least 2 50mL Erlenmeyer flasks per lab goup. More would be better. -water, sinks, and paper towels for cleanup -salt in bulk and spoons -food coloring -3x5 cards, cut in half (or not), about 6-8 per group

Time Frame
This activity can be done in a 55 minute period

Engagement and Exploration (Student Inquiry Activity)
The PowerPoint presentation introduces students to the importance of ocean currents. They will fill in blanks on the student handout in a mini-lecture type situation. Then, they will use notes taken and hints to assist them in performing the lab and writing the lab report.

Explanation (Discussing)
The teacher can help students in the brainstorming section, which leads them to predict and collect data in the lab using WaterLayer_Lab.ppt.

Elaboration (Polar Applications)
By completing this activity, students will gain a better understanding of how currents move around the earth and how density and temperature can effect this movement and, perhaps, global climate.

Exchange (Students Draw Conclusions)
Students will understand density and temperature on a deeper level as they see how these parameters affect water's behavior, both on a small scale (in an Erlenmeyer flask) and on a global scale. They may also reach conclusions on ocean floor shape and how this contributes to current flow around the earth.

Evaluation (Assessing Student Performance)
Teachers should check prediction page as students are working, then see how students perceptions change when they perform the activity. Lab reports will be collected and graded.

data | hook | main | background & resources | student