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Student Lab Sheet
Understanding Maps of Earth's Features: Maps of the Ocean Floor
Earth's Systems 4-ESS2-2:
Analyze and interpret data from maps tp describe patterns of Earth's features. Maps can include topograhpic maps of Earth's land and ocean floor, as well as maps of the locations of mountains, continental boundaries, volcanoes, and earthquakes.
Pacing Guide: Recommended time to complete this unit - 1 month
Instruction day 2 (pages 183 - 184): Read and solve the riddle
Summary: Meet the authors and solve the riddle!
Lesson Objective: Students are introduced to the article and what it is about. Students learn about the historical and current scientists who contributed to this article.
Introduction: We’re starting a new article, let’s look at the cover on page 182. What do you notice about the image? Can you find any writing? What does the picture remind you of? What is the title of the article?
Instructions: Read about scientist/authors Marie Tharp, Elizabeth Hunter and Madelyn Burt. Read the riddle aloud, instruct students to write their answers before speaking them. Students discuss their best answer with a neighbor. Students will raise their hands to share their answers with the class and why they chose that answer. Reveal answer to “unlock” the chapter.
Ask: What is a continent?
Example: A continent is a huge chunk of land, usually made of lots of countries, like Africa. It could all be one country though, like Australia or Antarctica.
Ask: What is an ocean? How is it different from a lake or a river?
Example: An ocean is a large body of salt water between continents. Technically all the oceans touch each other, but we name them differently depending on what part of the planet we are talking about. The ocean is a lot bigger than a lake or river. It has salt water instead of fresh water and the ocean has more biodiversity!
Ask: Why do you think it is important to map the ocean floor?
Example: We can learn more about our planet! We can study fault lines and underwater earthquakes that could cause tsunamis. We can learn more about species that live in deep areas and near volcano vents.
Wrap-up: Pair/share prompt: How many continents can you name? (North and South America, Australia, Antarctica, Africa, Asia, and Europe or Eurasia. I wonder why almost all of them start and end with the letter A?!) How many oceans can you name? (Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, Indian and Southern or Antarctic.)
Instruction day 3 (pages 185 - 186): Read. explore a website, and discuss
Summary: Meet young Marie and learn about the scientist who hypothesized continental shift. See how the Earth has moved over millions of years!
Lesson Objective: Students discuss continental shifts over millions of years.
Introduction: Have you ever felt an earthquake before? You have felt the movement of a continent! It seems like an awfully large thing to ever move, but it does. People didn’t always believe that continents could move because it seems too large, but through research scientists were able to prove it!
Instructions: Read page 185 about Marie Tharp and page 186 about Alfred Wegener (misspelled in first edition text, pronounced Vay-ghen-err). Study the diagrams of the Earth on page 186. Students use the blue margins to write how the continents have shifted over the years.
Ask: Marie says she worked with her father while he made soil maps. What do you think a soil map might be? What could it be used for?
Example: I think it shows the different types of soil there in different places, like where there is clay or sand. Farmers probably wanted to know where there was good soil for their crops.
Ask: In the last picture, number 6, we can see what we recognize as the Earth today. Let’s look backwards and notice the differences. How is number 5 different from number 6? How is number 4 different from number 5? Etc.
Example: I can see how close South America and Africa are in number 5. Greenland is touching North America and Great Britain is attached to Europe in number 5 as well. In number 4 they are A LOT closer together, Africa and South America aren’t touching, but way up by the Arctic Circle Greenland is touching both North America and Europe. In number 3 North America and Europe are connected. In number 2 South America is touching Africa, the Atlantic Ocean almost looks like a lake! In number 1 all the continents are touching with just a couple lakes.
Wrap-up: Website exploration: Look through Wegener’s evidence! Go to The Geological Society’s website about Wegener (https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/Plate-Tectonics/Chap1-Pioneers-of-Plate-Tectonics/Alfred-Wegener). After reading the brief biography, click on Jigsaw Fit, and let the site lead you through the rest of the evidence for Continental Drift. Fossils, rocks and glacial deposits all pointed to a time that all the continents touched.
Extra: YouTube video, time lapse showing continental drift around the world, 55 seconds.
(Check out how the sea level rises or falls depending on whether or not the planet was experiencing an ice age at the time! The Midwest of the US used to be underwater!)
Instruction day 4 (pages 187 - 188): Read, draw, and discuss
Summary: Mapping the ocean floor has come a long way! Learn about ancient, accurate and modern techniques.
Lesson objective: Students discuss how echoes can be used to map the ocean floor.
Introduction: Have you ever made an echo in a large empty room, a tunnel or a canyon? An echo is a reflection of sound! A loud noise can bounce back at you from a surface so you hear that noise repeated back to you shortly after you first made the noise. Next time you’re in a gymnasium or tunnel notice how clapping can create an echo.
Instructions: Read pages 187-188. Study the diagram of how the ship uses echoes to map the ocean floor. Students should label the microphone that receives the signal and draw an animal that might live on the ocean floor.
Ask: Can you think of how sailors might get incorrect measurements with the cannonball method?
Example: In some places the rope will never be long enough, it can be over 7 miles deep in some parts of the ocean! It would also be hard to show the shape of the sea floor where there are underwater mountains and valleys.
Ask: Describe how the ship used sound for mapping in your own words. The paragraph above the ship on page 188 uses the term “regular interval”, what does that mean?
Example: The ship made a loud sound underwater. A regular interval means a constant period of time; for example, one ping every second. The ship also had a sensitive microphone able to hear the echo that was created after the sound reflected off the ocean floor. The amount of time it took to hear that echo is what they used to calculate the depth of the ocean in that spot.
Ask: Can you think of animals that use soundwaves?
Example: Bats and dolphins use echolocation to hunt. Whales sing songs underwater to stay in contact with whales that are too far away to see.
Wrap-up: Watch the following YouTube video about how sound is used to map the ocean floor, 42 seconds. This video shows a modern way of making underwater maps. Do you think Marie had all those computers to help her make maps in the 1940s? (No, she only had the data of the time it took to get an echo to return to the ship’s microphone and the ship’s location when it got that echo. Everything else she had to figure out on her own!)
Instruction day 5 (pages 189 - 190): Read, discuss, and write
Summary: What is a profile of the ocean floor? What kind of geography do we see under the ocean?
Lesson objective: Students learn what a profile of the ocean floor is and define it in their own words. Students plot data about depths various animals can dive.
Introduction: Have you ever held your breath to swim down and touch the bottom of a pool? What else do humans use to go deep underwater? (SCUBA gear and submarines.) For a long time, even with those, we couldn’t reach the bottom of the ocean. The sound waves that were picked up from research ships helped to give us lots of measurements to map the bottom of the deeper parts of the ocean. They found some interesting shapes down there!
Instructions: Read pages 189-190 and study the profile of the Atlantic Ocean provided. Students plot the various depths ocean creatures can dive. Students use the blue margin to write what a profile of the ocean floor is in their own words.
Ask: Why did it take so many years (1946-1952) to create the measurements Marie would use?
Example: There were tens of thousands of measurements! They all had to be done by a ship with a crew and that data all had to be recorded. The ocean is big! They needed to take several trips back and forth with the microphone in order to collect all the data.
Ask: We took the length of an ocean that is 3000 miles long and compressed it onto one page! What labels do you see in this particular profile?
Example: I see that at the ends of the green stripe it is labeled North America and Europe so this maps the part of the Atlantic Ocean between those two continents (ie: not the part of the Atlantic between S. America and Africa.) I see the words “continental shelf,” it looks like a cliff, I’m guessing that's where the ocean goes from being shallow to deep all of a sudden. “Sea mounts” are probably short for sea mountains. I notice the “abyssal plain” is the only flat part. (See if students can guess the length in miles of the abyssal plain shown, about 300 miles!)
Ask: One meter is about the length of a yard stick. (If you have one in the classroom, hold it up for the class to get a visual example.) Which animal has the shortest depth it dives to?
Example: The scuba diver can only go 330 meters, that’s still as much as a 100-story building!
Ask: By the way, what is a vampire squid and why is it called that?! Does it want to drink my blood?
Answer: A vampire squid doesn’t drink blood! It is called a vampire squid because it lives in the darker parts of the ocean and its shape resembles a cape. It has a “superpower” of bioluminescence in order to create its own glow when needed! (They will see an example of a vampire squid in a future video.)
Wrap-up: Pair/share prompt: This is just one profile of the Atlantic Ocean, one slice of the loaf of bread. What differences might there be with other profiles of the Atlantic? (The distance between North America and Europe might be different depending on where you measure. The size, location and number of the sea mounts might be different, etc.)
Instruction day 6 (pages 191 - 192): Read, discuss, and write
Summary: The patterns Marie Tharp discovered supported Wegener’s theory of continental drift. Help draw the mid-Atlantic ridge!
Lesson objective: Students learn about the mid-oceanic rift and how it supports the theory of continental drift. Students recognize the pattern of a mid-oceanic rift across multiple profiles of the sea floor. Students plot the geographic location of the ridge using latitudinal and longitudinal data.
Introduction: What do you know about the layers of the Earth? We live on the crust, but what is underneath the crust? What is in the center of the Earth? (The center of the earth is a molten core and swirling around it is an outer layer called the mantle made of magma.) What is it called when magma pushes up through the crust and comes to the surface? (A volcano!) Marie Tharp proved with her maps that there was an underwater chain of volcanoes in the middle of the ocean!
Instructions: Read page 191 and draw crumpled papers at the bottom of the page. Students use the blue margin to define mid-oceanic rift in their own words. Study the map and profiles on page 192. Note the blue lines marked on each profile and plot their location on the map. Connect all of the data points into one line to show where the mid-oceanic rift runs in the Atlantic Ocean.
Ask: What important pattern did Marie find? What shape did she find in each profile?
Example: She found that every profile included a mid-oceanic rift with tall seamounts and a deep V-shaped valley.
Ask: What is so important about Marie’s discovery of the pattern of the mid-oceanic rift? It is evidence of what big idea?
Example: The mid-oceanic rift shows where magma is pushing up through the Earth’s crust, resulting in the two continents of North America and Europe being slowly pushed further apart. The evidence she put together helped to prove Wegener’s theory of continental drift over millions of years.
Ask: How can we plot the blue lines marking the mid-oceanic rift?
Example: We learned how to use longitude and latitude in the previous article! Each point will be somewhere on the color line that is in its profile. Looking at Profile 2, the latitude is 31° North so let me see where the yellow line is close to that number. It lines up well with the longitude of 40° West so I will put a dot there. Once we mark all the dots we can connect them in a line to represent the mid-oceanic rift that runs up the middle of the Atlantic.
(Note: Along the Latitude axis, 15° N is mislabeled as 15° W.)
Wrap-up: Watch some videos! First, a YouTube video about the underwater volcanic activity of the mid-Atlantic rift, 1+ minutes. Second, a YouTube video about how the mid-Atlantic rift supports the idea of plate tectonics and continental drift, 2+ minutes.
Instruction day 7 (pages 193 - 194): Read and discuss
Summary: Watch a video that connects all the previous lessons of the article and discuss plate tectonics.
Lesson Objective: Students discuss tectonic plates. Students watch a video about how Marie Tharp compiled the data, fought for recognition and was able to prove the theory of continental drift.
Introduction: We’ve all had times where you think you’re right, but nobody agrees with you. Marie went through that too!
Instructions: Read pages 193 and 194, students use the blue margins to write what is important about plate tectonics. Watch the following video, YouTube biography of Marie Tharp and the importance of her discovery, 4+ minutes.
Video: Uncovering Secrets of the Ocean Floor
Ask: Why do you think that people didn’t believe Marie at first?
Example: For thousands of years people thought that the continents were in the same location they’d always been. It seemed crazy to say that something as big as a continent could move.
There were not many women who had been responsible for such big calculations before. They thought that maybe she had made some mistakes and asked her to repeat plotting all of her data points. She did and they still didn’t believe her! It wasn’t until she was able to compare her work to a male coworker doing calculations on earthquakes that they saw the data points lined up perfectly!
One of the scientists that didn’t believe the research at first was a man named Jacques Cousteau, he was Steve Irwin, the “Crocodile Hunter” before Steve! Jacques helped share the hidden beauty of the ocean with the general population who had no idea how many amazing creatures live there. When his video findings supported Marie’s data then a lot of people paid attention!
Ask: Have you heard of plate tectonics before? How would you describe it?
Example: The land of the earth is divided into chunks of crust that can move around a little bit (sometimes a lot when there’s an earthquake!) because the mantle underneath is pushing them in certain directions.
Wrap-up: Use the empty white space on page 194 to draw an underwater volcano!
Extra: Explore a news article about Marie Tharp and her contributions: https://theconversation.com/marie-tharp-pioneered-mapping-the-bottom-of-the-ocean-6-decades-ago-scientists-are-still-learning-about-earths-last-frontier-142451
Instruction day 8 (pages 195 - 196): Find and discuss
Summary: Identify the characteristics of an ocean floor map.
Lesson Objective: Students learn to read and interpret an ocean floor map.
Materials needed: 1 colored pencil per student (red, green or purple might be best)
Introduction: We studied how to read maps in the previous article. For this map the most important part for us to look at first is the key.
Instructions: Look at the title and key of the map on pages 195 and 196. Discuss what each square represents in the key (ie: land mass = chunk of land above water, etc). Students use pencils and colored pencils to complete the directions on page 195.
Ask: Which squares in the key represent land that is above water? Which represent land underwater?
Example: The top and bottom squares represent land above water, the middle three squares represent land that is underwater. The lighter colors are above water, darker colors are land under the ocean.
Ask: How would you describe the shape of the mid-ocean ridge between the Americas and Europe/Africa?
Example: It curves like a snake! It mostly goes from North to South, but then it curves around the bottom of Africa towards India so it seems like a snake’s tail.
Ask: What other mid-ocean ridges do you find?
Example: It looks like there is another one that goes south of Australia, near the Antarctic, then curves up near North and South America. It isn’t in the middle of the ocean as much as the Atlantic ridge is.
Ask: If you look closely, they have labeled some of the largest abyssal plains. Do you see any by Russia or Alaska? Where do you see the largest gathering of seamounts?
Example: The largest group of seamounts is in the Pacific Ocean near Australia and Asia. That’s a big underwater mountain range!
Wrap-up: Expert level question! Can you find where the edges of the continental shelves are? (Look near the land masses, you can see what looks like a blue cliff to represent the sudden drop in land level underwater. It is especially easy to see near Russia and Alaska.)
Instruction day 9 (pages 197 - 198): Read and discuss
Summary: Learn about how new ocean floor crust is formed!
Lesson Objective: Students learn how magma breaks through the Earth’s crust under the ocean and how it forms brand new rock there only to push it to the side and then make more in an endless cycle.
Introduction: Earthquakes and volcanoes! Over time these violent events have created the shapes we see on land both above and underwater.
Instructions: Read pages 197 and 198. Students can use the blue margins to take notes from either the text or the following video. YouTube video suggestion showing how the cycle of new rock created at the rift and ocean floor being recycled back into the mantle, 1+ minutes.
Ask: What do you think happens when the hot magma touches the cold ocean water?
Example: The hot magma cools and hardens into rock, but there is probably a lot of smoke or something like it when they touch because it is a meeting of two extremes.
Ask: What is the difference between a rift and a ridge? Use the diagram on page 197 to help explain.
Example: A rift is lower, it is the valley where the magma comes up. A ridge is the mountain that is formed by the cooling magma/lava that comes up as it is pushed to the side so it is up higher than the rift.
Wrap-up: Pair/share prompt: What do you think could happen over time? A million years from now, which continents will be closer together and which ones will be further from each other?
Instruction day 10 (pages 199 - 200): Read, discuss, and write
Summary: Use the topography of a map and the data points of earthquakes to connect ideas.
Lesson Objective: Students use information from a map to connect that earthquakes happen near mid-oceanic rifts or along the edges of a continent. Students analyze and interpret data to recognize patterns of earthquakes and geologic features.
Introduction: Earthquakes can happen in lots of different places around the world, but almost all earthquakes occur in certain areas of the planet. Let’s see if we can find a pattern!
Instructions: Read page 199 and have students write their answer to the question in the space provided using the map on page 200 for reference.
Watch this USGS movie about the highest magnitude earthquake in America a magnitude 9.2
Ask: When the Earthquake hit did geologist understand why it had happened?
Example: No the geologists did not understand why this earthquake had happened because they still did not understand plate techtonics in 1964. Marie Tharps work that proved how plate techtonics worked was highly criticized and it took a while for people to listen. After months of work the one geologist in the movie did relate the earthquake to this new theory.
Ask: What did the geologists do to figure out how often these mega earthquakes occurred in the past.
Example: They drilled down into the ground and pulled out samples that showed the crushed and fractured earth. They were able to see that those mega earthquakes had a pattern because of the rate the plates slide of releasing stress about every 630 years.
Ask: Why do you think it is important for geologists to study the earth?
Example: By understanding the earth and why and how often things happen we can save lives.
Wrap-up: If you ever feel an earthquake and you are INDOORS -- STAY THERE! Get under a desk or table and hang on to it (Drop, Cover, and Hold on!) or move into a hallway or against an inside wall. STAY CLEAR of windows, fireplaces, and heavy furniture or appliances
Instruction day 11 (pages 201 - 202): Read, write, and discuss
Summary: Continue making connections, how are earthquakes and volcanoes related?
Lesson objective: Students use evidence from a map to write about where volcanoes tend to be found.
Introduction: Let’s see what connections we can find between the map of earthquakes and a map of volcanic activity.
Instructions: Read page 201 and have students answer the question using page 202 as a reference. Study the diagram at the bottom of page 201.
Ask: Are there more volcanoes near the land or in the middle of the ocean?
Example: There are more volcanoes near the edges of the land, only a few in the ocean and only a few inland away from the water.
Ask: What parts of North and South America have the most volcanoes?
Example: All of the west coast of both continents, the parts touching the Pacific Ocean. Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Mexico, Chile, etc.
Ask: We talked about how North America is getting further away from Europe and Africa, but that also means that it is getting pushed towards Asia! Where those two plates run into each other, what happens where they meet? (Use the diagram at the bottom of page 201 and remember the video watched earlier.)
Example: One of the tectonic plates gets pushed under the other and as it is pushed down towards the hot mantle of the Earth it melts and becomes magma. That hot magma rises and can push through the Earth’s crust as lava, forming a volcano.
Wrap-up: Check out a real volcano! Use the following website to see recent volcanic activity recorded on a timelapse webcam: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/kwcam-live-panorama-halema-uma-u-west-rim-k-lauea-caldera
(Two images, the lower image should show activity over the previous 24 hours.)
Another option, a livestream of active volcano watching.
Video: Volcanoes Live, Worldwide
Instruction day 12 (pages 203 - 204): Read, write, and discuss
Summary: Put it all together! Earthquakes can create volcanoes and volcanoes eventually create mountains.
Lesson Objective: Students use the map to write about patterns in where mountains are found.
Introduction: Do volcanoes erupt forever? What happens to volcanoes over time?
Instructions: Read page 203 and have students answer the question using page 204 as a reference. Study the diagram at the bottom of page 203; flip back to the diagram on page 201 to compare as desired.
Ask: What pattern are you seeing between all three maps?
Example: Earthquakes, volcanoes and mountains all occur along the edges of North and South America where they touch the Pacific Ocean. Not every earthquake results in a volcano, but all volcanoes occur in areas that have earthquakes.
Ask: Do you think all mountains around the world are only made from volcanoes? Can you find any mountain ranges that don’t line up with the volcanoes?
Example: I see mountain ranges in the eastern part of the United States as well as the eastern part of South America that don’t line up with volcanoes.
Mountains aren’t only formed by volcanoes! Otherwise all mountains would be made of volcanic (igneous) rock that used to be lava and that’s not always true. Many mountains (like Everest) are formed by earthquakes that don’t cause volcanoes; it’s a process called uplift.
Wrap-up: Watch a video. YouTube video about volcanoes around the world, 7+ minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAWEA0TAz6c
Instruction day 13 (page 205): STEM Vocabulary
Summary: Draw your vocabulary words and learn about a deep sea submersible named Alvin!
Lesson objective: Students demonstrate understanding of the vocabulary words learned in the article. Students watch a video about the submersible Alvin and how it is being used for deep sea research.
Introduction: We learned a lot about the ocean in this article. Let’s review the new words we defined and watch a video about more current research being done on the ocean floor.
Instructions: Review what each vocabulary word means and where students can find their definition in the article. Give students time to discuss what they are drawing for each picture with each other. When a few students have finished, put on the following video. Students still wishing to work on their drawings can do so while watching the video.
YouTube video about the deep sea diving submersible Alvin and its discoveries of different species, 5+ minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrahF3opykM. If you can, pause the video to point out various features or ask certain questions listed below.
0:44 - What are those things swimming around?! Fish, squid? They’re so fast it’s hard to tell! I wonder if they’re upset by Alvin or they always move that quickly?
0:55 - Look at those huge tube worms! You can find small types of these in tidepools, smaller than your pinky, but these tubeworms are huge! In just a second I want you to look for the black “smoke” coming from an underwater vent. (1:00)
1:46 - Why do you think the windows on Alvin have to be so small? (The pressure of the water under the ocean would crack a large pane of glass. The smaller the windows are, the less likely the glass will crack and accidently let water in.)
2:00 - There’s a vampire squid! Remember plotting how deep they go on page 190?
Wrap-up: Learning the shape of the sea floor was a very important discovery and it led us to understand how plate tectonics work. What different kinds of research is Alvin helping with? (Alvin is able to take samples of plants and animals living deep deep down on the ocean floor. It is taking soil samples and lots of video that scientists can study to tell us more about this hard-to-reach ecosystem.)
Instruction day 14 (page 207): Writing Workshop
Summary: Show what you know! Write about the concepts covered in this article.
Lesson objective: Students use evidence from the article to write about ideas learned in the chapter.
Introduction: The best way to remember what we’ve learned is to explain it to someone else. Use the questions to show me what you’ve learned from this part of the book.
Instructions: Read the questions on page 207 and give students time to talk about what pages they can use to support their answers. Students use the space provided on pages 206 and 207 to write their answers. Use Guiding Questions as desired.
Ask: What patterns have we discussed in this article?
Example: On page 186 we talked about the pattern of movement of the tectonic plates over millions of years. Pages 199-204 we talked about the patterns between earthquakes, volcanoes and mountain ranges happening in similar locations.
Ask: What was special about Marie’s profiles?
Example: She discovered there was a consistent mid-oceanic rift along the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. This helped everyone understand how continental drift happens over long periods of time.
Wrap-up: Pair/share prompt: What was the most surprising thing you learned in this article?