Lesson 1: Investigating Ocean Floor Structures (3)

Lesson 1: Investigating Ocean Floor Structures (3)
Materials and Questions to Engage

Learning Activities

Diagramming the Ocean Floor (1 class period)

Read aloud "Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor " by Robert Burleigh and Raul Colon.

Discuss trailblazing women in science and underrepresented groups in oceanography

Discuss how science is continuously changing based on what we learn over time and it can very much be like solving puzzles.

Students should interact with the Juan de Fuca – Cascadia Margin map as they label ocean floor structures and their depths and define how they compare to land features. These features include:

  • Continental shelf
  • Continental slope
  • Continental rise
  • Trenches
  • Rift valleys that form where the seafloor spreads due to tectonic plates moving apart
  • Guyots
  • Seamounts, the largest of which are formed where there is sustained migration of melt from the mantle beneath the seafloor leading to increased volcanic activity and pronounced topographic highs
  • Volcanic island
  • Abyssal plain
  • Mid-ocean ridge–Earth’s crust continuously forms at divergent plate boundaries when new seafloor is created. As the plates separate, lava rises to the seafloor, cools and hardens. The rocks that are formed here are mostly basalt

Sculpting the Ocean Floor  (2 class periods)

Give students at least 3 colors of modeling clay (or damp sand), 10 rounded toothpicks, sticky address labels, and black flair pens, and 4.25” x 11” cardboard for sculpting the model on.

Instruct students to sculpt ocean floor structures and make toothpick/address labels for each of the 10 structures listed above.

Graphing the Ocean Floor  (2 class periods)

Give students a copy of the data collection sheet showing depths of the Northeast Pacific Ocean (Juan de Fuca Plate Bathymetric Map)

Have students plot ordered pairs on 8.5” x 14” grid paper and connect the points as a line graph. When students are finished, they will turn the graph upside down, and color the seafloor tan or gray and the ocean water blue so that they can visualize the seafloor structures.

Instruct students to analyze the data and determine the ocean floor structures and label all that they see.**

Check for Understanding (formative assessment)

**Label all the structures you see on the ocean floor graph you constructed.


Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea
Interactive Juan de Fuca -Cascadia Map
Mid-ocean ridge spreading Center animation
Seamount Animation
Graphing the Ocean Floor
Check for Understanding