Modeling the Formation of Ocean Currents

Modeling the Formation of Ocean Currents

In BAESI’s new “Modeling the Formation of Ocean Currents” lesson, students do experiments with models of ocean saltwater, cold seawater, and warm water to help them understand how cold water and salty water are denser than warm and less salty water. This prepares them to understand the important process of the “great conveyor belt” of water and energy through Earth’s interconnected global ocean. The lesson is designed for grade 5-12 students, with a variety of Enrich / Extend activities listed at the end of the lesson to help you meet the needs of all learners. For instance, it is applicable to high school chemistry and physics classes, as well as earth science classes.

Guiding Questions

  • How and why does ocean water move?
  • Why is that process important for life on Earth?
  • How might the process be changing due to human activities?
  • How can we help restore balance to thermohaline circulation patterns on Earth?

Objectives

  • Students will measure salt accurately to create saline solutions to model seawater of different salinity levels.
  • Students will experiment with different saline solutions and freshwater and demonstrate understanding that increasing salinity increases water density.
  • Students will create models of warm and cold seawater and slowly mix them together, then demonstrate understanding of how decreasing
    water temperature increases its density.
  • Students will form hypotheses to predict the results of their experiments, record their observations, and compare the results with their predictions in writing.

The lesson is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) & Common Core State Standards, as well as California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts. We hope you and your students enjoy the simulation and other activities and we’d love to hear your feedback!

 

Adapted from “Great Ocean Conveyor Belt.”
NOAA: pubs.usgs.gov/pp/p1386a/images/gallery-2/
full-res/pp1386a2-fig31.jpg

Carbon Travels—Then and Now

Carbon Travels—Then and Now

In BAESI’s new “Carbon Travels–Then and Now” lesson plan and simulation, students play the role of carbon atoms to learn about the carbon cycle and how it is changing. Adapted from the Carbon Travels activity at STEM Earth Central, students create two carbon cycle diagrams—visual models of the cycle before and after the Industrial Revolution. They reflect on the game and how scientists believe humans are impacting this critical Earth system. Numerous Enrich / Extend activities are listed to help you meet the needs of all learners, including ideas for student projects and a detailed reading titled
“The Fast and Slooow Carbon Cycles” that is appropriate for high school chemistry classes and other more advanced students.

Guiding Questions

  • How is the carbon cycle changing due to human activities?
  • How are changes in the carbon cycle altering
    Earth’s climate and other systems?
  • How can we help restore balance to the carbon cycle?

Objectives

  • Students will participate in two simulations of the carbon cycle: before and after the Industrial Revolution.
  • Students will create two models of the carbon cycle representing how it has changed since the Industrial Revolution.
  • Students will create written explanations of their models to demonstrate their learning.
  • Students will explain how human activities have been changing the carbon cycle orally and in writing.

The lesson is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) & Common Core State Standards, as well as California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts. It can be easily adapted for other grades and non-formal education settings, as well. We hope you and your students enjoy the simulation and other activities and we’d love to hear your feedback!

Model showing storage and flows of carbon on Earth in gigatons
commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carbon_cycle-cute_diagram.svg

Pika Models + Climate Change Lesson Plan

Pika Models + Climate Change Lesson Plan

BAESI’s new “Pika Models + Climate Change” lesson plans are adapted from the 2016 Science Framework for California Public Schools (pp. 839-841). Students explore the life of pikas, tiny mammals that live in alpine areas, and how they are being impacted by climate change. After a brief introduction which includes a reading, short video, and story which includes a mathematical model, students engage in a kinesthetic simulation to gain first-hand experience of life as a pika, and how the animals can be impacted by shrinking habitat. Students then create line graphs with data from the simulation and analyze it.

Part II of the lesson allows students to create their own model to teach others about pikas and their connections to their ecosystem, and/or how the pika or another organism is being impacted by climate change and/or other human activities. Numerous adaptations/extensions are listed at the end of the lesson, including ways to explore additional data from online computer simulations and how they can incorporate current and projected climatic data into their models.

There are two versions of the lesson that are both highly adaptable to meet the needs of all learners:

Both versions of the lesson are aligned to NGSS & Common Core State Standards, as well as California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts. They can be easily adapted for other grades and non-formal education settings, as well. We hope you and your students enjoy the simulations and other activities and we’d love to hear your feedback about it!

Excellent Weather + Climate Resources

Excellent Weather + Climate Resources

El Niño & La Niña Educational Resources