Oceanic circulation, convection, climate, density, temperature
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.
Why 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.
Smartphone or tablet with Google's Science Journal app, available for free on Google Play for Android devices (version 4.4 or newer) or from the App Store for iOS devices (iOS 9.3 or newer).
Note: This project was tested with the Android version of Science Journal in which light intensity is measured using the ambient light sensor and given in lux. The iOS version uses the phone's camera to measure brightness resulting in data expressed in EV (Exposure Value). Lux values and Exposure Values are not the same. Whereas Exposure Value is a base-2 logarithmic scale, the lux scale is linear. This might affect your data and result in different values and graphs when you are using an iOS version of the app—both versions will work for this project though. The graph examples given in the procedure show light intensity in lux.
Materials for teacher preparation and demonstration:
You can find this page online at: https://www.sciencebuddies.org/teacher-resources/lesson-plans/oceanic-circulation
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