If I asked you how many oceans there are in the world, what would you answer? Five?
And you could name them right? Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic, Antarctic (also known as Southern)
Well, if you were in my 4th grade class when I was teaching about oceans, you would learn that all the oceans of the world flow into each other, thereby creating one ocean with five different bodies of water that are named as above.
Did you know that oceans cover about 70% of the Earth's surface and they contain roughly 97% of the Earth's water supply?
I really loved my Oceanography unit! The kids learned that the oceans of Earth serve many functions, especially affecting the weather and temperature. They learned how they moderate the Earth's temperature by absorbing incoming solar radiation (stored as heat energy). They also learned that the always-moving ocean currents distribute this heat energy around the globe by heating the land and air during winter and cooling it during summer.
I recall one activity we did whereby we created our own icebergs. We used zip-lock plastic bags and half filled them with blue-coloured water. We also made a mark with black felt at the water line. After a few days in the deep freezer, we brought them out to see if the water line had changed - it had. It seemed as though the water had expanded. Then we each dipped our iceberg in a huge vat of water to see what would happen. Did it sink? Did it float? How much of the iceberg was above the water line of the vat and how much was below? Using rulers, the kids measured and then we figured out the ratio of the visible iceberg to the invisible iceberg. Of course, that continued on to the story about the Titanic.
Another activity we did was when I divided the class into 5 groups, each group representing one of the oceans. Each group had a large tin foil pie plate into which they poured blue-coloured water. Then we added some oil, feathers, string, tooth picks and other small pieces of wood, bread bag tags, bits of clear plastic wrap, and other odds and sods of "garbage."
Then, I said to the groups, "Okay, now clean up your oceans!"
You should have seen those kids work like mad using all sorts of methods to get the oil and garbage out of their oceans.
It certainly proved a point.
And it was lots of fun, too.
I presented several videos about the oceans to the class and we also learned about the history of ocean exploration. It was one of my favourite Science units for many reasons, but one particular reason was that I took the class on a field trip to the Stanley Park Aquarium where they were treated to private viewings of the Beluga Whales.
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