This month’s theme is all about the OCEAN! Not only are Earth’s oceans massive, what happens there impacts everything else on Earth. Here are a few of this month’s books that help explore the oceans.
Planet Ocean: Why We All Need a Healthy Ocean
by Patricia Newman; photographs by Annie Crawley
Readers will discover how closely THEY are connected to the ocean, regardless of where they live.
Discover the latest scientific research through a ride on a submarine.
Explore rocky pools, shoreline, and the deepest depths of the ocean.
An informative and beautiful introduction into the ocean ecosystem.
So where do you start exploring something that is so big and overflowing with life? (You’re sure to never run out of things to explore!)
Just How Big Is It?
Oceans cover over 2/3 of the Earth. It’s hard to fathom just how big the oceans are. Here are some activities that can help our brains process this.
There is a really great video from the Smithsonian called “Just How Big Is The Ocean?” https://ocean.si.edu/planet-ocean/seafloor/just-how-big-ocean (While you’re there, check out ideas for lessons relating to the ocean: https://ocean.si.edu/educators-corner)
Print out a world map. Color the oceans blue. Color land masses another color. (To practice even more geography, color each continent a different color.) Here are a few to check out:
The oceans don’t just spread out, though. They also go deep. The Smithsonian Ocean website has a great visual showing just how deep the ocean goes: https://ocean.si.edu/ecosystems/deep-sea/zones-open-ocean
Compare the depths of the ocean to things that are familiar. How many school busses could you stack? How do skyscrapers compare to the ocean depths? (Check out skyscraper heights here: https://www.skyscrapercenter.com/buildings) What other items can you use to compare?
Another way to think about how much of Earth is covered in oceans is to create visual representations of the different numbers related to the ocean. Brainstorm some ways to represent the different numbers. Not sure what to do? Get inspired by the book Dinosaurs by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins (https://www.hmhbooks.com/shop/books/Dinosaurs/9781328850966) – an entire book devoted to infographics.
To see some visuals related to how climate change is impacting the oceans, check out this site: https://www.climate.gov. There are several buttons on the Climate Dashboard that show statistics related to the oceans.
Explore What’s In the Ocean
More things live in the ocean than live on land. Scientists are still discovering new creatures that live in the seas. There are lots of places online where you can explore what’s being seen below the waves.
One of my favorite places to explore the oceans from home is through the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. You can browse photos (https://www.mbari.org/products/image-gallery) and videos (https://www.mbari.org/products/video-library) on their website.
You can also see videos they’ve posted on YouTube. Discover MBARI scientists’ Top 10 Deep-Sea Animals (https://youtu.be/80OG2BGrmyA) or MBARI Top 10: A treasure trove of bizarre, interesting, and wondrous encounters in 2019 (https://youtu.be/zC2gwYkd5F8). They have loads of playlists to choose from, too, including Deep-Ocean Soundscapes and Weird and Wonderful. (https://www.youtube.com/user/MBARIvideo/playlists)
There are lots of things to explore through the Smithsonian Oceans site. Here is a page that’s loaded with things to explore about Ocean Life: https://ocean.si.edu/ocean-life
NOAA’s Ocean Service also has lots to explore – most of them closer to home. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/for-students.html
Check out an aquarium – either in person or online. Here are a few of the big ones in the U.S.
The National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD: https://aqua.org/explore
The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL: https://www.sheddaquarium.org/animals
Monterey Bay Aquarium in CA: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/animals-a-to-z
Get some practice doing research and writing reports. Pick an animal that you find while browsing. Dig into what information you can find about them. Report about the animal by creating a poster, putting together a slide show, or writing it up (https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/homework-help/article/how-to-write-an-animal-report). Be sure to include the research sources and properly credit any images used.
Follow the Challenger
If you’ve watched the first video mentioned or just done some research about the oceans, you’ve probably noticed that the deepest part of the ocean is named Challenger Deep. This is named for the first oceanographic expedition, conducted in the 1870s by scientists aboard the HMS Challenger.
There are whole websites dedicated to the HMS Challenger expedition. Many of the samples taken during that voyage are still held at scientific institutions around the world.
Here are a few sites for exploring the Challenger and how what it did compares to research today.
The samples taken during the Challenger voyage are helping scientists study climate change today.
Make a Difference
Now that you’ve explored the oceans a bit, hopefully you think they’re a resource worth saving. Everyone can make a difference when it comes to saving the oceans, no matter how far from the ocean they live.
Here are some resources in addition to the books on the book list:
Come up with 3 concrete things you can do to help the oceans. Think of what you will change and how you will measure it. Track what you’ve done for a few weeks.
Hopefully you continue to have fun exploring the oceans. And please be sure to do what you can to help the oceans out. Without life in the oceans, there will be no life on land.
Janet Slingerland loves learning about science, history, nature, and (well) everything, which she then turns into a book. She is currently researching an animal that lives on the floor of the ocean. To find out more about Janet and her books, check out her website: janetsbooks.com