Teaching Resources

Teaching environmental issues in your classroom is a critical component of providing your students a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience. Discover a wealth Chesapeake Bay related books, multimedia, curriculum guides, individual lesson plans and online data sources.

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Watershed Puzzle

This can be used as a stand-alone manipulative that doesn’t require a presenter or as a ‘building block’ by a presenter who will expand upon the concepts introduced by this activity. Participants will learn what a watershed is. Participants will observe and manipulate pieces of a ‘watershed map puzzle’ with political boundaries superimposed upon it. Participants will think about how the ‘pieces’ – the counties, states, rivers, the ocean – included in the watershed are connected.

Subject(s): Science, Technology
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): Early Learning, Elementary School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: water cycle and movement, land use, watershed

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What Affects Dead Zones Activity

Students will explore scenarios in real datasets to investigate how physics and biology interact to produce Dead Zones of various sizes and durations. Further questioning will challenge students to apply their new knowledge of Dead Zones to real life questions.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: pollution, habitat and niche, water quality, dissolved oxygen

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Sea Grasses Online Learning Module

Take a Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence Modules Tour to learn more about seagrasses, the trends these plants are experiencing, and what kind of seagrass research scientists are working on. Learn how these vast "prairies" of underwater grass form complex ecosystems that are very important, not only to the health of their surrounding marine environment but to people as well.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Multimedia
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: aquatic grass SAV, habitat and niche

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Sea Grasses - The Importance of Light Lesson

This activity will show students the importance of light availability in seagrass health. Students will learn about the things that can prevent seagrass from receiving light, including suspended sediments and chemicals.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: aquatic grass SAV, water quality

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Photosynthesis and Respiration in Seagrass Activity

Students conduct a hands-on science experiment focusing on how different levels of light affect photosynthesis in seagrass. Students will understand the principles governing experimental design, including formulating a question, developing a hypothesis, and understanding controls and variables; students will understand the fundamental concepts associated with plant photosynthesis.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: photosynthesis, aquatic grass SAV, experiments and investigations

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Life Science Module 1: Survival in an Estuary

In this activity, students investigate the range of conditions that selected animal and plant species need tosurvive in an estuary. They examine data for abiotic factors that affect life in estuaries—salinity, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and pH. Students use archived data (trend analysis graphs) and real-time conditions at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) to predict whether a particular animal or plant species could survive in an estuary.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: ecosystem and biomes, water quality, salinity, dissolved oxygen

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Habitat Squeeze and Hypoxia Activity

This exercise demonstrates how dead zones can create a “habitat squeeze” for aquatic organisms. Students will understand how physical factors influence where an organism can live; students will understand how dead zones can lead to a decrease in the amount of suitable habitat available to aquatic organisms.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: habitat and niche, fish, dissolved oxygen

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Give Me Shelter Sea Grass Activity

Students observe the feeding behavior and success rate of blue gill feeding on brine shrimp in two different environments; one with seagrass and one without. Students will gain a better understand of the following ecological service provided by underwater grasses: underwater grasses provide shelter for wildlife.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: food web, aquatic grass SAV, habitat and niche, wildlife, fish

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Density Driven Currents Activity

This activity demonstrates density differences in ocean and coastal waters and how these differences drive currents.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: water cycle and movement, salinity

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Density and Dead Zones Activity

Students will understand the physical processes associated with dead zones, as well as the concepts of density and stratification. Students will also be challenged to think critically about a simple demonstration, and hypothesize about various outcomes of the demonstration.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: water cycle and movement, experiments and investigations, salinity, dissolved oxygen

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Dead Zones and Coastal Eutrophication PowerPoint Presentation

This PowerPoint presentation discusses the causes and consequences of dead zones.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Multimedia
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: pollution, land use, development, habitat and niche, water quality, fish, dissolved oxygen

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Clear Things Up Activity

Students add nutrients to and observe 3 different jars filled with pond water and various amounts of underwater grass, looking for algal growth over 3-5 days. Phosphorous will be added to the water to stimulate the growth of the algae.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: pollution, aquatic grass SAV, experiments and investigations

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Air Pollution: What's the Solution Curriculum Guide

This curriculum guide uses online real time data to guide student discovery of the science behind the causes and effects of outdoor air pollution. Through this project, students will focus on outdoor air pollution; what it is, what factors contribute to its formation and the health effects from breathing polluted air. Students will use data and animated maps from the Internet and monitor for the presence of air pollution. Students are challenged to think critically and creatively about the problems surrounding air pollution.

Subject(s): Science, Technology
Type(s): Books and Publications
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): New York, National Science Education
Keywords: pollution, air pollution and fossil fuels, experiments and investigations

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Surface Water Sourcebook

The Water Sourcebooks contain 324 activities for grades K-12 divided into four sections: K-2, 3-5, 5-8, and 9-12. Each section is divided into five chapters: Introduction to Water, Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment, Surface Water Resources, Ground Water Resources, and Wetlands and Coastal Waters. This environmental education program explains the water management cycle using a balanced approach showing how it affects all aspects of the environment.All activities contain hands-on investigations, fact sheets, reference materials, and a glossary of terms. Activities are organized by objectives, materials needed, background information, advance preparation, procedures, and resources.

Subject(s): Art, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies
Type(s): Curriculum Guide
Level(s): Elementary School, Middle School, High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: pollution, water cycle and movement, wetland, watershed, stormwater, green development, habitat and niche, water quality, water testing, Drinking Water

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Middle School Curriculum - Activity 3: Water Going Up, Water Going Down

In this activity, students will examine the effects of tides on estuaries, and look at real data to understand the effect on dissolved oxygen levels before and after a mouth closure. They will learn that both lunar tides and wind-driven seiches affect water levels in estuaries, that the movement of sediment at the mouth of an estuary will either open or close the estuary’s access to its lake or ocean, and that tides vary throughout the day from location to location. Students will also understand that lack of tidal flushing can cause water conditions in a lagoon to deteriorate and potentially harm aquatic life inside the estuary, that if an estuary mouth is unable to open naturally it is sometimes necessary to open the mouth artificially by dredging, that there is a distinction between global sea level trends and local sea level trends, and that sea levels provide an important key to understanding the impact of climate change on estuaries.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science
Type(s): Curriculum Guide, Lessons and Activities, Data
Level(s): Middle School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: climate change, tides

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Middle School Curriculum - Activity 2: Seasonal Swings

There is tremendous variability in the physical conditions between and within estuaries. Factors such as air and water temperature, water salinity, and dissolved oxygen can also vary seasonally at the same location. Students will learn about the NERRS System using an online map that has a brief description about each of the 28 Reserves. By comparing and contrasting specific data from two of those Reserves, students will come to understand that extreme air and water temperature differences found in the Reserve estuaries are related to their geographic location, particularly their latitudes relative to each other.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science
Type(s): Curriculum Guide, Lessons and Activities, Posters and Maps
Level(s): Middle School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: dissolved oxygen, Geography, Temperature

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Middle School Curriculum - Activity 1: Where Rivers Meet the Sea

This activity contains 3 exercises, in which students are introduced to the Estuaries 101 Middle School program and website, take a short online quiz to check their initial estuary knowledge examine Mobile Bay as an example of an estuary, and practice identifying four different types of estuaries. In the second exercise, students study a world map to examine the global distribution of estuaries and examine global sea surface temperature map to learn about the effects of location on ocean water temperature and of ocean water temperature on water temperature within the connected estuaries. Finally, students will look at the entire NERR System by visiting Reserves using an online interactive map. Students will adopt and research a NERR site and present their findings to the class in the form of a travel brochure.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science
Type(s): Curriculum Guide, Lessons and Activities
Level(s): Middle School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: watershed, Geography, Temperature

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Physical Science Module 3: Human Impacts on Estuaries

In this activity, students make a model of a pollution spill that occurred at Bangs Lake, a tidal lake within the Grand Bay NERR in Mississippi, in April 2005, and measure water quality parameters in their model. Students then study the actual spill, analyzing various forms of data to determine the date of the spill and identify how the spill changed water quality parameters in the estuary during and after the spill. They speculate on how various life forms in the estuary were affected. Finally, students produce a timeline of the spill event with recommendations to the state Department of Environmental Quality about how to prevent large-scale pollution spills like this in the future.

Subject(s): Language Arts, Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: pollution, water quality, student action

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Physical Science Module 2: Dissolved Oxygen in the Estuary

In this activity, students (grades 9-12) learn about dissolved oxygen(DO) and its effects on life, with a focus on the chemistry. First, they are introduced to, and analyze data gathered from, water quality sensors in Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), observing how DO and chlorophyll-a change from the surface to the bottom and considering the relationships between DO and temperature. Then, in the unique environment of Azevedo Pond in the Elkhorn Slough NERR, CA, they analyze DO data and speculate about how hydrodynamics, abiotic factors, and biological processes cause extreme fluctuations in DO in the pond.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Curriculum Guide, Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: watershed, aquatic grass SAV, water quality, water testing, dissolved oxygen

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Physical Science Module 1: Chemistry in an Estuary

In this activity, students (grades 9-12)investigate water quality parameters to study the nature of, and the cyclical changes inherent in, the chemistry of estuarine water. Students study key water quality factors at several stations in a single reserve over time — current, daily, and yearly time scales. Students also compare water quality values over a yearly time scale in three different estuaries within NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERR) —South Slough NERR, Oregon; Delaware NERR; and Old Woman Creek NERR, Ohio. Then students take water quality measurements at a site near them and compare their data to the water in the three geographically diverse NERR estuarine environments.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Curriculum Guide, Lessons and Activities, Data
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: watershed, water quality, water testing, salinity, dissolved oxygen

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Earth Science Module 1: Observing Estuaries

In this activity, students (grades 9-12)investigate landforms and features associated with estuaries. They begin by taking a journey down a river to an estuary system where the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico near Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) to investigate how landforms differ between uplands and riverine/estuarine environments. Student teams then use Google Earth and other resources to engage in a scavenger hunt to locate and identify landforms and features of estuaries.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Curriculum Guide, Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: water cycle and movement, watershed

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Earth Science Module 2: Salinity and Tides in York River

In this activity, students learn about tides and salinity in estuaries. They observe time-lapse models of tides and salinity distribution in the York River, part of the Chesapeake Bay, VA NERR. Learn how salinity changes with an incoming and outgoing tide, observing the dynamics of the salt wedge at various sites along the river. Students also make predictions about the salinity changes at each site based upon their observations of the animation. They then use salinity data from monitoring stations along the river to see changes during a typical day. And, then describe the patterns of each salinity graph and compare the graphs.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: water cycle and movement, salinity, tides

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Earth Science Module 4: Extreme Weather and Estuaries

Students investigate how hurricanes can affect NERRS estuaries. Students begin by studying the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve (NCNERR) in the Cape Fear area with Google Earth and predict which areas of the reserve might be more vulnerable to the onslaught of high winds, heavy rain and storm surge than others. Then students monitor and interpret the changes in water quality factors day by day as a severe storm approaches, strikes the estuary, and then dissipates.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: weather, watershed, water quality

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Life Science Module 2: Nutrients in an Estuary

In this activity, students model estuaries, artificially enriching both fresh and salt water samples with different amounts of nutrients and observing the growth of algae over a several weeks. They relate their results to the phenomenon of algae blooms in estuaries. They then analyze data for different sites at the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve(GTMNERR) in Florida to discover the relationships between nitrogen, chlorophyll, and dissolved oxygen. Finally, they study how nutrients cycle through an estuary and suggest recommendations for reducing nutrient inputs to estuary waters.

Subject(s): Mathematics, Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: nitrogen and carbon cycle, pollution, point source, non-point source, photosynthesis, development, stormwater, water quality, dissolved oxygen, Nutrients and Eutorphication

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NOAA Estuaries 101 Curriculum - Life Science Module 3: Biodiversity in an Estuary

In this activity, students investigate the incredible biodiversity that exists in estuarine environments. They begin by exploring the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) using Google Earth. Students then produce an estuary biodiversity concept map and individual organism profile that becomes part of an estuary wildlife exhibit.

Subject(s): Science
Type(s): Lessons and Activities
Level(s): High School
Aligned with the following standard(s): National Science Education
Keywords: food web, biodiversity, ecosystem and biomes

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