Alaska Sea Grant

Investigation 2 - Canyons in the Sea

Class Time Required

5-7 class periods

Materials Needed

Teacher Preparation

About 1 hour to read lesson and background materials and to gather and prepare materials.

Prior Student Knowledge

Experience with "Journey to the Unknown" from Investigation 1. Basic knowledge of classification of marine organisms. Working knowledge of coordinate grid systems. 

Vocabulary

ROV - Remotely Operated Vehicle
AUV - Autonomous Underwater Vehicle
HOV - Human Occupied Vehicle
ABE - Autonomous Benthic Explorer
Benthic
Autonomous
Blog
Science GLEs Addressed

6th Grade: SA1.1, SA1.2, SE1.1, SE2.1, SE2.2, SE3.1

7th Grade: SA1.1, SA1.2, SE2.2 

8th Grade: SA1.1, SA1.2, SA2.1, SE2.1, SE2.2,

Investigation 2Overview: In this 5-7 day investigation, students learn about vehicles used to explore the sea. They then learn about two deep sea canyons in the Bering Sea and the variety of life found in these canyons. Finally, students create a mural of one of the canyons, and participate in a sampling simulation to determine life in the canyon.

Focus Questions:

How do scientists explore the deep sea?
What types of deep sea organisms are found in Alaska'a Pribilof and Zhemchug canyons?
What are some of the decisions that scientists must make when deciding how to investigate an unexplored area of the deep ocean?


Engagement: (45-50 minutes):

Remind students of the imaginary journey in a submarine to the deep sea. Ask them if they can name or describe other ways that scientists explore the sea, including the deep sea.
Explain to the students that today’s technology allows us to use a variety of vehicles to explore under water. There are three main types of underwater vehicles: the human occupied vehicle (HOV), the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV),  and the remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Ask if they can identify the type of vehicle they were in, in their imaginary journey to the unknown? (Submarines are HOVs.)

Explain what each type of vehicle is capable of doing, and show photos. Use information and photos from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Underwater Vehicles site or NOAA’s information on submersibles.

Create a chart similar to this sample on the chalkboard, or project it with an overhead projector or computer. As you show photos and discuss each type of vehicle with the students, ask students to help complete the chart, and ask them to duplicate it in their science notebooks. Be sure you don’t give students all the answers. Ask them leading questions, so they can think about each type of vehicle and come up with many of the answers. See Teacher Background.


Exploration: (3-4 class periods)

The following activity was adapted from a NOAA Ocean Explorer lesson plan fromcoral http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov.
Part 1 (20 minutes)
Share the following information with students: The Bering Sea has some of the deepest submarine canyons in the world. Michelle Ridgway is a scientist that lives in Juneau, Alaska. She and her colleagues have explored two of these canyons, primarily using DeepWorker submarines. Imagine undersea canyons that are deeper than the Grand Canyon! Pribilof Canyon and Zhemchug Canyon are two of these canyons and are home to a wide variety of sea creatures.
Grand Canyon: 1,600 meters deep (5,249 ft)
Pribilof Canyon: 1,830 meters deep (6,003 ft)
Zhemchug Canyon: 2,600 meters deep (8,530 ft)
And, as a result of their research expeditions, Michelle and the other scientists have identified several organisms never before seen by people!

Show the map showing the location of the two canyons.

Tell students: Researchers knew a little about life in these canyons from the fishing trawlers that fish in those parts of the Bering Sea. The trawlers often bring up sea animals other than the fish they are fishing for, because they scoop along the bottom of the ocean. Scientists wanted to find out exactly what lives in the canyons. They suspected there may be some species that were previously undiscovered. And, as a result of these submarine research expeditions, they found out they were right, and have identified several new sea creatures!

Show some photos of organisms seen during the expeditions to these canyons.
jpgaswc-logo-horizontal.jpg

Part 2 (2-3 class periods)
Tell students they are going to learn about some of the animals that have been seen in these two deep-sea canyons. Wtih their group, they will create a mural depicting part of one of the canyons. The mural will illustrate the surface features and sea life that would be seen by an observer inside a deep-diving submarine. Emphasize that each group should keep their information to themselves, and not share ideas for their illustrations with other groups.

1. Divide the students into groups of 3 or 4. Assign each group one of the canyons to research.

2. Some of the researchers wrote descriptive blogs of their experiences in the submarines. Provide the following links to the students or print out some of the descriptions, so students will have a better idea of what some of the fish and invertebrates look like, and how they are distributed.

Descriptions of Pribilof Canyon and sea life
Researcher David Guggenheim’s blog
Researcher John Hocevar’s blog

Zhemchug Canyon Life
Researcher Michelle Ridgway’s blog
Researcher David Guggenheim’s blog

3. As students read the blogs, look at the photos, and watch the videos, they should make a list of the different organisms seen and note the depth they were seen, if known. Then they should look at and read the Bering Sea Canyon cards to learn about the organisms and their habitat.

4. Each group will then discuss their new knowledge and plan the mural. Remind them to pay attention to the numbers of organisms they put in a specific location. Some are typically found in groups, and some may be more solitary, or less plentiful. It is also important to place organisms in the correct proximity to each other. The murals should also include a reasonable amount of open space. Once the students have a plan, they can decide who will contribute each part to the finished product.

5. Provide paper that is 30 x 36 inches for each group’s mural. It will be easiest if students draw the organisms first, cut them out, and then glue them to the group mural. One student in each group can be responsible for drawing the background on the main mural paper.

6. When the mural is complete, the group will write two or three paragraphs, clearly describing the details of their mural of the canyon.

7. Have each group completely cover their mural with 3 x 3 inch “sticky notes” placed edge-to-edge with the top row and left column of sticky notes labeled as illustrated in Mural Grid Figure.

Part 3 (one class period)
Remind students that researchers need to carefully plan each dive with an underwater vehicle. Briefly discuss the autonomous benthic explorer (ABE), highlighting the fact that instructions for an ABE mission must be programmed before the vehicle begins the investigation.

1. Tell students that their assignment is to simulate an investigation of either the Pribilof or Zhemchug canyon using an ABE-type robot. The area of the investigation will be represented by one of the murals prepared by another group. Because of time and technical constraints, their robot can obtain only 30 images, each of which covers an area equal to a single 3 x 3 inch sticky note. Assign each group to one of the murals prepared by another group.

2. To prepare for their exploration, each group will need to decide which 30 images to obtain out of the total possible images in the entire area of investigation (mural). The location of each image will be described by an “address” that uses the row and column labels (similar to the x, y coordinate system used in graphing data). So, the image in the upper left corner has address = A, 1; the image in the upper right corner has address = L, 1; the image in the lower left corner has address = A, 10; the image in the lower right corner has address = L, 10; etc.

3. Each group needs to decide on an exploration strategy by selecting the 30 locations to be programmed into their robot. Some of the possible strategies are
• Random (scattered over the entire area of investigation).
• Clustered (groups of two or more images spaced over the area of investigation).
• Transect (locations selected to concentrate images in specific rows or columns).
• Checkerboard (image locations evenly spaced over the area of investigation.

Remind students that once the stickie notes have been placed on the murals, teams may NOT peek under them!

4. Each group must submit a written list of their selected image addresses (so the teacher can guard against changes in the address list as images are revealed in step 5).

5.On their assigned mural, have one member of each group remove the sticky notes corresponding to the selected image addresses as these addresses are read aloud by another group member. When all 30 images have been revealed, students should remain seated far enough away from the mural so that no additional sticky notes can be removed, and the group should prepare a description of their area of investigation based on their observations.


Explanation: (30-50 minutes, depending on number of groups)

Have each group present an oral summary of their conclusions, then lead a discussion of the sampling strategies that appeared to provide the best information. Students should realize that scientists often have little or no information about the actual distribution of interesting features in an explored area, so a common strategy is to perform a broad survey that includes samples scattered over the entire survey area, then collect additional samples in areas that reveal interesting features.

Because rare, widely scattered features may still be missed, scientists sometimes use a “cumulative species” graph to decide when they have collected enough samples. This is simply a graph in which the total number of species (or other features of interest) found is plotted on the y-axis against the number of samples collected plotted on the x-axis. Initially the cumulative number of species (y-axis) increased rapidly as more samples (x-axis) are collected, but the curve eventually begins to “flatten out” so that collecting more samples produces fewer and fewer new species. Students should realize that in almost all investigations, the number of samples collected is a compromise between the need to develop a complete picture of what is present and problems of time, sample capacity, ability to analyze large numbers of samples, and other technical constraints.


Evaluation:

Group reports and discussion completed in Part 4 of the sampling activity will provide evidence of understanding or misconceptions.

Students may also address the following questions in their science notebooks:

What are some of the ways scientists explore the deep sea?
What was the most interesting organism you learned about that is found in the Pribilof and/or Zhemchug canyons, and what makes it so interesting?
What are some of the important decisions that scientists must make when deciding how to investigate an unexplored area of the deep ocean?

Teacher Preparation

Tips from Teachers

No tips are currently available.

Read through all of the investigation materials, and read the background information and referenced blogs. Prepare paper for murals. Gather drawing paper and materials for creating murals. Organize and prepare photos of underwater vehicles for group display. Print and copy Bering Sea Canyon cards. If student internet access is not available, print out sections of the researcher blogs.


Extensions:

If students are interested in building an ROV, there are several options. It is a good way to teach about buoyancy, propulsion, etc.

Coat Hanger ROV PDF

SeaPerch Information,videos, competitions, and curriculum centered around the building of an ROV.


Curricular Connections

Geography. This is a good opportunity to review other canyons in the world, both on land and in the water.


Materials Needed for Investigation 1: ;

Student Handouts
Items for Group Display
Material Items
Mural paper for each group
Drawing paper
Drawing materials
Glue
Scissors 
3x3 inch sticky note, 142 per group 
Facility/Equipment Requirements 

Computer with internet access  and projector to project websites

Alaska Science Standards and Grade Level Expectations Addressed:

6th Grade:
The student demonstrates an understanding of the processes of science by
SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring, and communicating.*

SA1.2 collaborating to design and conduct simple repeatable investigations (L).

The student demonstrates an understanding of how to integrate scientific knowledge and technology to address problems by
SE1.1 recognizing that technology cannot always provide successful solutions for problems or fulfill every human need.

The student demonstrates an understanding that solving problems involves different ways of thinking by
SE2.1 identifying and designing a solution to a problem.

SE2.2 comparing the student’s work to the work of peers in order to identify multiple paths that can be used to investigate a question or problem. (L)

The student demonstrates an understanding of how scientific discoveries and technological innovations affect our lives and society by
SE3.1 describing the various effects of an innovation on a global level.


7th Grade:

The student demonstrates an understanding of the processes of science by
SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring, and communicating.*

SA1.2 collaborating to design and conduct simple repeatable investigations, in order to record, analyze (i.e., range, mean, median, mode), interpret data, and present findings (L).

The student demonstrates an understanding that solving problems involves different ways of thinking by
SE2.2 comparing the student’s work to the work of peers in order to identify multiple paths that can be used to investigate a question or problem.* (L)

8th Grade:

The student demonstrates an understanding of the processes of science by
SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring, and communicating.*

SA1.2 collaborating to design and conduct repeatable investigations, in order to record, analyze (i.e., range, mean, median, mode), interpret data, and present findings (L).

The student demonstrates an understanding of the attitudes and approaches to scientific inquiry by
SA2.1 recognizing and analyzing differing scientific explanations and models.

The student demonstrates an understanding that solving problems involves different ways of thinking by
SE2.1 identifying, designing, testing, and revising solutions to a local problem (L).
SE2.2 comparing the student’s work to the work of peers in order to identify multiple paths that can be used to investigate and evaluate potential solutions to a question or problem (L).

Essential Questions:

  • How can technology help us explore the ocean?
  • Why do we want to explore the ocean?

Enduring Understandings:

  • The ocean is largely unexplored.
  • Humans must use ingenious ways to study the ocean.
  • Science and technology can be used to detect and solve problems.
seagrant UAF logo Alaska Department of Education and Early Development noaa
© 2007 - 2017 Alaska Sea Grant