Oceanic Circulation: What Keeps the Ocean in Motion?
- Understand the ocean's impact on global climate.
- Investigate and describe how temperature differences drive oceanic water movement.
- Explain how climate change can affect oceanic circulation systems.
OverviewWhy is the ocean vital to our planet? There are many reasons, but one important one is that the ocean is a major player in regulating our weather and climate through currents. In this lesson plan, your students will model ocean currents with cups, water, and food coloring, and explore how temperature and density differences set deep ocean waters in motion to create a global oceanic circulation system.
NGSS AlignmentThis lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
Materials per group of 3–4 students:
Materials for teacher preparation and demonstration:
Disclaimer: Science Buddies participates in affiliate programs with Home Science Tools, Amazon.com, Carolina Biological, and Jameco Electronics. Proceeds from the affiliate programs help support Science Buddies, a 501(c)(3) public charity, and keep our resources free for everyone. Our top priority is student learning. If you have any comments (positive or negative) related to purchases you've made for science projects from recommendations on our site, please let us know. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Area of Science
Oceanic circulation, convection, climate, density, temperature
Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
Explore Our Science Videos
Walking Water Experiment
Why Won't it Mix? Discover the Brazil Nut Effect
Slow Motion Craters - STEM Activity