Skip Discover Education Main Navigation
Skip Discover Education Main Navigation

Curriculum Center
Oceans iconOceans
Project Ideas
Looking for more ways for ocean knowledge to wash over your students? Here are eight ideas that you can turn into individual or classroom projects.
Check out Oceans Teachers A-Z Resource Guide which includes similar activities.
  1. Atta Buoy!
    Measure two cups of water into a bowl. Now float objects of varying materials and sizes in the water, such as a feather, marble, plastic bottle cap, etc. How long does each objecs float? Do some sink immediately? Write your observations in a notebook. Now, a tablespoon at a time, add salt to the water in the bowl and retest the objects. How much salt does it take to make a noticeable difference in the water's buoyancy? Calculate the proportion of salt to water.
  2. Getting the Scoop.
    Pretend that it's 1493 and you're a newspaper reporter with theMadrid Messenger. You are sitting in the port of Palos, Spain, waiting for Christopher Columbus to return with theNiña,Pinta, andSanta Maria. Create a front-page story describing the sights and sounds of the crew returning. Include quotes from Columbus and two of his crew in your story. Remember: They believed they had found a route to Asia.
  3. What Goes Around Comes Around.
    With careless littering, intentional dumping, and industrial wastes, pollution quickly enters our oceans. When waves and tides wash up on shore, they bring any mess with them. In recent years, water pollution has made many beaches unsafe for swimming. Select a beach that's been closed because of pollution. Research what is being done about the situation. Then create a plan to clean the beach up.
  4. Tie Down Those Tides.
    Select a coastal location anywhere in the world that you would like to visit, and find reports of its high and low tides. Chart and analyze a month's worth of tides. What patterns do you find? Do high and low tides occur at the same time each day? What time of day would be best time for lounging on the beach? At what times would you be better to schedule inland activities?
  5. Tsunami!
    From the Japanese word for "harbor wave," a tsunami may follow an earthquake, volcanic eruption, or underwater landslide. Not all tsunamis are large or destructive, but some can top 100 feet (30 m) by the time they reach shore. Tsunamis also can travel as fast as 600 miles an hour. Pretend that you live in a Hawaiian town that had been hit by a tsunami. Develop plans for an early-warning system, and write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper that explains how your system works.
  6. Catch a Wave.
    Make your own ocean scrapbook. Start collecting interesting information about waves, currents, underwater research and exploration, ocean creatures, or any other related topic that interests you. Review Web sites, magazine and newspaper articles, reference books, and other information sources. Collect and assemble photographs, illustrations, stories, quotes, and fun facts into a book to share with your classmates.
  7. Low-Salt Diet.
    In February 1982, Steven Callahan's boat sank in a storm off the coast of Africa. He survived for 76 days on a five-and-a-half foot raft he named the Rubber Ducky. Because ocean water is too salty for our bodies, he made a water-evaporation chamber using these objects: a rectangular Tupperware box, a cone-shaped cover for the box, two tin cans, and two pieces of black cloth that fit in the bottom of the cans. Make a sketch of how you think Callahan assembled these objects so that he could collect drinking water from seawater.
  8. Let's Go to the Videotape.
    The sperm whale is the giant squid's only natural enemy. Both are at the top of the food chain. Use the Internet or your school library to learn more about these sea creatures. Then pretend that you are a television reporter covering a battle between them. Create a written or videotaped report of the event that includes factual information about sperm whales and giant squids.