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SEAS: Student Experiments At Sea

SEAS curriculum

This curriculum is designed to teach students about the mid-ocean ridge environment. Each unit contains several activities related to a theme.

Unit 1: Plate tectonics and the discovery of hydrothermal vents

The ridge environment is particularly fascinating because scientists from many specialized fields (geochemistry, geophysics, oceanography, and biology, to name only a few) must work together to understand the phenomena they are exploring. The lessons in the first unit are designed to give the students a broad overview of:

Unit 2: Visualizing the mid-ocean ridge

This unit introduces the tools that scientists use to visualize the deep sea. It helps students understand that maps are powerful tools for investigating remote and inhospitable areas, like the ocean floor. This unit gives them an opportunity to observe and compare maps made by a variety of techniques for a variety of purposes. It also presents photography, in conjunction with mapping, as a means for documenting the ocean floor and introduces them to the lava formations that can be found at the fast spreading center knows as the East Pacific Rise.

Unit 3: Finding and exploring hydrothermal vents

This unit focuses on hydrothermal vents, how they are formed and how they are found. Students build background knowledge in basic properties of matter, including density, temperature, convection, solutions and precipitation and learn the basics of vent plumbing systems in ridge areas. With this knowledge, they re-enact a research cruise to the Juan de Fuca ridge in the north-eastern Pacific, and use temperature and density data from a CTD probe to determine the precise location of a vent. They simulate verifying the presence of vents and examine representative samples retrieved from the deep-sea site.

Unit 4: Surveying deep-sea organisms and investigating how they survive

This unit introduces students to: