A team of teachers recently met in Charleston, SC to prepare instructional materials to help teachers share the Deep East Voyage of Discovery with students nationwide. These materials are available in .pdf format, and may be viewed and printed with the free Adobe Acrobat reader. Lesson plans feature adaptations for deaf students and internet resources. Each is correlated to the National Science Education Standards.

Exploration has been a passion of humans since the dawn of man. The desire to know what lies beyond led ancient Egyptians to the seas nearly 5,000 years ago, drove European discoverers to circumnavigate the globe during the sixteenth century, and has taken modern man to the moon. We as humans have traveled so far, and yet one of the last great frontiers left to conquer is in our own backyards, relatively speaking - it's the oceans. What lies beyond the beaches and the waves? What life forms and natural wonders are yet to be discovered? What hidden resources do the oceans hold, and how do we tap those resources without harming the environment? In an effort to answer these and many more questions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has embarked upon a new series of oceanic missions entitled Ocean Explorer.

Throughout the month of September, Ocean Explorers from the Deep East mission will be go to the depths of the Atlantic in the deep sea submersible Alvin. The first leg of the cruise explores deep sea coral communities of the Georges Bank Canyons and Bear Seamount off the coast of Maine. Little is known about these coral communities except that they are slow growing and susceptible to destruction by some types of fishing gear. Scientists hope to learn more about the biology of the corals and the biodiversity of the coral communities.

Leg 2 of Deep East investigates the deep sea life and sediment transport of the Hudson Canyon off the coast of New York City. Like an underwater river, the Hudson Canyon carries materials from the continental shelf (upriver) to the deep sea (downriver). Unfortunately, in the 1980s the shelf region "upriver" of the Hudson Canyon was the site of the world's largest dumping of municipal sewage sludge. On this voyage scientists will not only look for deep sea life but will try to determine the fate and effects of past dumping activities.

The final leg of the cruise will take us down to Georgia to probe the gas hydrates on Blake Ridge and learn more about the organisms and geochemical conditions of this unique environment. Gas hydrates are sites where gas, usually methane, seeps from the ocean floor and freezes when the conditions of cold temperature and extreme pressure are just right. The seeps are home to some unusual creatures including the ice worm (Hesiocaeca methanicola). It is believed that the volume of methane stored here is equivalent to 30 times the amount of gas consumed annually by the U.S.


Science as Inquiry

  • Ability to do scientific inquiry (5-8, 9-12)
  • Understanding of scientific inquiry (5-8, 9-12)

    Life Science

  • Populations and ecosystems (5-8)
  • The interdependence of organisms (9-12)

    Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

  • Populations, resources, and environments (5-8)
  • Natural resources (9-12)
  • Environmental quality (9-12)

    Science and Technology

  • Understandings about science and technology (5-8, 9-12)

  • Classroom Activities

    The Ocean Explorer program invites your class to participate with this mission by checking the website for updates on the cruise's discoveries; using the project lesson plans (see box above); checking the answers from the web forum September 24-27; and logging in to the live webcast on September 28. Daily logs keep you updated on the progress of the voyages.

    For supplemental activities, have your students:

    If you have questions about the Data Tip of the Month or have suggestions for a future data tip, contact Lisa Lawrence, Bridge Webkeeper.

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    Data Tip of the Month Archives
    On-Line Data Resources

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    Deep Sea
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    Online Data
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