Mapping the Ocean Floor - Discovery Project for Kids

Earth Science Unit Study - Week 23 - Oceans

We measured the depth at different points of a model ocean.

Did you know that cold water corals dominate much of the ocean floor and they sometimes build colonies taller than skyscrapers? During the last century scientists have gained vast insight into the ocean. Major advances in technology such as sonar and submersible vehicles have led to many discoveries. Unknown creatures have been identified, much of the floor has been mapped and soil boring samples have helped to unlock the mysteries of how certain underwater topology was created.

The National Geographic documentary Drain the Ocean, provides fascinating views of the underwater world.

Before sonar technology, oceanographers first mapped the ocean floor in certain locations by lowering a rope into the water. This painstaking method is explained well in the beginning of How The Earth Was Made, The Deepest Point linked below.

Ocean Floor Mapping Activity

The kids were challenged to create a sketch of the floor of a model ocean.

 The ocean floor was created by placing a few objects in the bottom of a cardboard box.

The box was then filled with packaging peanuts "water".

Whenever kids are given the opportunity to think, discover and solve problems on their own, their motivation seems to increase. This project was perfect for motivation. The kids were presented with the box and asked if they wanted to create a sketch of the ocean floor.

 They decided how to measure the depth and what tools to use.

My son created a tool for measuring depth which consisted of a butter knife, string and tape to hold the string in place on the knife. His tool for measuring depth worked much better than rulers. The rulers tended to get caught on the peanuts and give false depth readings, where as the knife was able to sink deeper in the water due to its smaller cross-section. A vegetable skewer would have worked even better.

 My daughter created a grid above the water and drew a proportional grid on graph paper.

She proceeded to measure the depth at each crossing point on her gird.

 The results were interesting. My daughter drew on her knowledge of contour maps and created her first one.

My son created his own version of a contour map. Each concentric circle center point represented a data depth point and the more circles, the deeper the water.

Here's a great list of educational Blog Hops! 

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