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Science

Ocean Science Activities!!!

Below you will find several Science activities. There is so much I could put on this page. This is one page you will definitely want to check on often as I will be adding new ideas!

Ocean Transportation (Model Submarine)

You will need the following materials:

eyedropper tall glass water 2-liter plastic bottle with top scissors

  1. Fill the eyedropper and the glass with water.
  2. Slowly squeeze the bulb of the eyedropper until the dropper just barely floats vertically; the top half-inch of the bulb should bob above the surface.
  3. Remove the label from the 2-liter bottle and fill it with water. Without squeezing the bulb, carefully transfer the eyedropper from the glass to the bottle, pointed end down.
  4. Add water to the bottle until it overflows. Then tightly screw on the cap.
  5. Gently squeeze the bottle. The dropper should dive like a sub when you squeeze and rise to the surface when you release the sides of the bottle.

Seawater Float

Ask students if they have ever swum in salt water. Did they know it is easier to swim or float in salt water than in fresh water? Try this experiment to demonstrate. You will need the following:

large glass warm tap water 1 raw egg salt teaspoon

  1. Fill the glass about half full of warm water.
  2. Carefully slip the egg into the glass. (It should sink to the bottom.)
  3. With the egg in the glass, add 1 teaspoon of salt to the glass and stir gently. Keep adding 1 teaspoon of salt at a time until the egg floats to the surface.
  4. Have groups explain what happened and how this would affect swimmers in salt water.

Which Freezes First?

Why do ponds or lakes sometimes freeze in cold weather? Why doesn't the ocean usually freeze? Use this experiment to compare the time required for fresh and salt water to freeze.

You will need the following materials:

2 paper cups salt tablespoon marker access to a freezer

  1. Fill both cups half full of water.
  2. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of salt to one of the cups and stir until the salt dissolves. Label the cups fresh water and salt water.
  3. Put both cups in a freezer. Check every half hour to see which freezes first.
  4. Repeat the experiment, but now add 1 tablespoon of salt to one cup of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to the other. What will happen?
Special Note: This Science activity can be combined with a Math activity by letting children predict what will happen and making it into a graph!

Freeze!

This activity is a variation of the previous activity.

You will need the following materials:

a one-cup measure salt warm water a tablespoon a plastic ice-cube tray a crayon a freezer

  1. Challenge children to suggest how they could find out which freezes faster-plain water or saltwater. (Great opportunity to graph their predictions!)
  2. Discuss their ideas, then suggest the following activity for groups to try, or try a different approach suggested by the children.
  3. Let students work in groups. First have them pur plain warm water into one side of an ice-cube tray, and label it with the word plain in crayon.
  4. Then ask a group member to stir one tablespoon of salt into one cup of warm water. Have another student fill the other side of the tray with the saltwater, and label it with the word salt. (As children label the sides of the tray, discuss with them why labeling is so important in science experiments. What if they forgot to use labels?)
  5. Now, instruct students to put the tray in the freezer. Have them check the trays every half hour or so to see which compartments have started to freeze. (The plain water will freeze first. Unless your freezer temperature is lower than 32 degrees F, the saltwater will not freeze at all.)
  6. Ask the children what they think the experiment showed. Which freezes faster-saltwater or plain water?
  7. Ask the children if they think the ocean ever freezes and under what conditions. (It does, but only in the far north where water temperatures are extremely cold, or where the water is not very salty.)

Seeing Sea Salt

This experiment shows that although salt is invisible in seawater, it is there and remains there even after water evaporates into the air.

You will need the following materials:

2-cup measure hot tap water 1/4-cup measure salt spoon pie plate

  1. Put 1 cup hot tap water into the 2-cup measure.
  2. Measure 1/4 cup salt into the hot water and stir until all the salt dissolves.
  3. Put the pie plate on a windowsill or near a heater. Pour in the salt water.
  4. Make an observation chart.
  5. Each day for a week, check the pie plate and record what you see. After a week, report the findings to the class.

Ocean Currents

The following activities help children understand two key causes of ocean currents-wind and variations in temperature.

Ocean Motion
You will need the following materials:

newspapers rectangular pan water food coloring

  1. Spread out several layers of newspaper to protect the work surface.
  2. Fill the pan halfway with water.
  3. Have children take turns blowing across the surface of the water. What happens if they blow gently? What happens if they blow very hard?
  4. Put a drop of food coloring into the water at one end of the pan. Have children blow from that end of the pan. What happens to the colored "current"?

Sea Breezes (a variation of the above activity)
You will need the following materials:

a fish tank a plastic cloth or towel water

Ask the children if they know or can guess what causes waves on the ocean. Then invite them to try this activity to find out:

  1. Place a plastic cloth or towel beneath the fish tank to protect the area from spilled water. Then fill the fish tank almost to the top with water. Let children take turns blowing across the surface of the water at once. (Stronger winds will cause bigger waves. Also, the bigger the tank, the bigger the waves will be, just as bigger waves build over bigger bodies of water.)
  2. Discuss what students discovered. They should conclude that wind is a major cause of waves. (Earthquakes and landslides under the ocean also cause waves.) Encourage students to imagine what the waves would be like in the ocean during a storm.

"Making Waves"
You will need the following materials:

bottles or jars with corks or screw on lids blue or green food dye cooking oil water a funnel (optional)

  1. Invite children to make "wave-makers" so they can see how waves in the ocean look.
  2. Help children fill their bottles about two-thirds with water. (A funnel would be helpful.)
  3. Add blue or green food dye to the cooking oil to represent the color of the ocean. Then fill the bottles of water to the top with the colored cooking oil
  4. Have the children close their bottles tightly and turn them on their sides. When they rock them gently back and forth, they can see waves.

Floating Hot and Cold
A major effect of currents is the mixing of colder and warmer ocean waters. Water temperature varies in different places. Water near the North and South Poles is very cold, while water near the equator is much warmer. At any location, surface water is warmer than deeper water. Here's a way to observe how temperature variations influence ocean currents.

You will need the following materials:

glass bowl pitcher of ice water pepper measuring cup of hot tap water food coloring

  1. Fill the bowl two-thirds full with ice water. Sprinkle some pepper on the surface of the water to help children see the movement of the "currents".
  2. Color the hot water with several drops of food coloring. Slowly pour about one-forth cup of hot water into the bowl of ice water. It should stay on the surface in a discernable layer because cold water is more dense than hot water.
  3. Have students observe what happens as the hot water cools. (It should begin to sink, mixing with the colder water; watch how the pepper moves.)
  4. Repeat the experiment, but reverse the position of the two temperatures of water. This time, start with a bowl of hot water. Pour colored ice water into the bowl. What should happen?

"Current Events" (a variation of the above activity)

You will need the following materials:

a pitcher or container water an ice-cube tray a freezer red food coloring a globe a glass baking dish

  1. In advance, mix red food coloring into water to turn it dark red. Pour the red solution into an ice-cube tray, and then freeze it.
  2. Referring to the globe, remind the children that all the oceans on earth are really one giant "super ocean". Explain that water from all the oceans mixes together and moves around the earth. Invite children to see how this happens.
  3. Half fill the fish tank with warm water, explaining that this is a model of the ocean.
  4. Referring again to the globe, ask the children where they think the ocean is the coldest-at the North Pole or the Equator. Confirm that not only is the ocean coldest at the North Pole and the South Pole, but it is frozen solid! Now have two volunteers place one ice cube at each end of the tank to represent the frozen ocean at the poles. Remind the group of the experiment they did with warm and cold water, and ask them to predict what will happen. (Explain to the children that you made the ice cubes red so they can see what happens to the cold water as it mixes with warmer water.)
  5. Now let the children observe the motion of the cold (red) water. Where does it go? (Along the bottom, towards the warmer water in the middle.) W#hat happens to the cold water as it begins to warm? (It begins to rise.) What happens to the warm water on top of the tank?
  6. Color the hot water with several drops of food coloring. Slowly pour about one-forth cup of hot water into the bowl of ice water. It should stay on the surface in a discernable layer because cold water is more dense than hot water.
  7. Have students observe what happens as the hot water cools. (It should begin to sink, mixing with the colder water; watch how the pepper moves.)
  8. Challenge children to draw on what they observe in the tank to explain how the water in the oceans mix together. Help them understand that the colder, heavier water from the poles moves along the bottom of the ocean toward the equator, where the water is warm. The warmer, lighter water from around the equator moves along the surface of the ocean toward the poles where the water is cold. These movements are called currents. Because of currents, the cold waters and the warm waters of the world oceans are constantly changing places. Following the experiments, discuss questions such as:
    • Why do you think water on the surface of the ocean is warmer than deep down?
    • What do you think happens to currents during a storm? On a calm day?
    • How do you think currents affect fish? Ships? Swimmers?

Sandy Shores

You will need the following materials:

sugar cubes empty jars with covers

  1. Ask the class what they would feel under their feet if they walked barefoot on a beach. Sand, of course! As children share their ideas, ask them to describe what sand feels like.
  2. Then ask the children to think about what sand is made of. guide them to learn that grains of sand are tiny pieces of rocks and shells that rivers and streams have tumbled and banged against each other. Over time, these rocks have broken into very tiny pieces. The rivers then carry these tiny pieces , which are now sand, to the oceans, where tides and currents bring the sand up onto the beach.
  3. To give the students an idea of how rocks can be broken into tiny grains of sand, divide the class into groups. and give each group a jar with a few sugar cubes in it. Let the group members take turns shaking the sugar cubes in the jar to see what happens when they tumble and bang against each other.

Making Sand

You will need the following materials:

small rocks and shells hammer box

  1. This activity is similar to the activity above. Talk about sand with the children. What is sand? Where does it come from? How is it made?
  2. Set out hammer and small pieces of rocks and shells.
  3. Place the rocks and shells inside the box lid and let children take turns smashing the rocks and shells until it is sand. (I recommend adult supervision with this activity.)

Examining Sand

You will need the following materials:

magnifying glasses sand rocks shells

  1. Place the above materials on a table in your Science center.
  2. Following a discussion about sand, let the children go to the Science center and explore the similaritites and differences between the sand, the rocks, and the shells.