Environmental Protection Agency Narragansett Bay Commission University of Rhode Island Office of Marine Programs

Teacher Resources


Estuarine Science Activities



"How Does the Density of Water Affect Ocean Currents?"
Level: Elementary, Middle School, High School
This activity examines water density and how it drives or creates ocean currents and creates layers in water. Two lessons investigate how temperature and the amount of salt in the water affect the density of water. A Marsigli's Box is used to demonstrate the properties of water density.
Activity (pdf file, 27K)

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"Salt Marshes: Temperature and Salinity Effects on Plankton"
Level: Elementary, Middle School, High School
This activity shows how global climate changes will effect salt marshes, specifically the salinity and temperature. Brine shrimp will be cultured in different salt water concentrations and under different temperatures to show how increasing temperature and salinity will cause the death of plankton in salt marshes.
Activity (pdf file, 18K)

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"Biodiversity: Food Capture and the Food Web of the Blue Whale"
Level: Elementary, Middle School, High School
This activity contains two lessons on the feeding ecology of the blue whale. In one lesson, students will learn about the physical features and adaptations the blue whale uses to capture and ingest food. Students use combs to simulate baleen and capture krill (dried herbs) from a pan of water. The second part of this activity is a game with teams of two students each using a game board and game pieces. This game not only teaches the food web of the blue whale, but also requires students to practice their basic math skills (addition).
Activity (pdf file, 49K) ~ Activity Worksheet (pdf file, 15K)

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"The Greenhouse Effect: Global Warming"
Level: Middle School, High School
The teacher uses two models in this activity to demonstrate the greenhouse effect. One model has a covering of plastic wrap which simulates a layer of greenhouse gases and one model has no covering, simulating the normal situation where the sun's energy radiates back into space. Students must collect data during the demonstration and graph the results.
Activity (pdf file, 22K)

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"Global Warming: Thermal Expansion and Sea Level Rise"
Level: Elementary, Middle School, High School
This activity shows that a rising global temperature will increase the volume of the oceans due to thermal expansion, causing the sea level to rise along the world's coasts. The process of thermal expansion is demonstrated for the class by the teacher. Students learn how the rising ocean will affect coastal areas by mapping sea level rise on topographic maps. An exercise showing students how to read and use topographic maps prepares them to map the course of the rising ocean themselves.
Activity (pdf file, 405K)

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"The Effects of Ultraviolet Light on Plankton"
Level: Elementary, Middle School, High School
This activity shows what the effects of increased ultraviolet light are for plankton, specifically brine shrimp. Various strengths of sunscreen are used to block the ultraviolet light from penetrating cultures of brine shrimp. For one week, students monitor the cultures and record the changes in growth. Students make summary graphs of their results.
Activity (pdf file, 18K)

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"How Sea Level Rise Affects Salt Marshes"
Level: Elementary, Middle School, High School
Students build clay models of various salt marshes in this activity. Different colors of clay represent the different types of land surrounding the salt marshes. Plot and elevation maps are provided so that the students can make realistic replicates of the marshes. Water is added to the models to show present sea level with additional water demonstrating how rising sea level will affect salt marshes.
Activity (pdf file, 22K)

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"Beach Profiles: Monitoring Sea Level Rise (Field Activity)"
Level: Elementary, Middle School, High School
This is a field activity where students make a profile of a beach so that rising sea level and erosion can be monitored. Two poles are placed 10 meters away from one another and a premeasured string is attached to both poles. Distance measurements from the string to the ground are made at one meter intervals down the beach face. Measurements are taken from the dune crest to the water line. When students return to their classrooms, they make a plot (graph) of the data they collected to reproduce the profile of the beach. More information about beaches is available at the DOCE web site Beach Section.
Activity (pdf file, 20K) ~ Activity Worksheet (pdf file, 4K)

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"Choreographing Narragansett Bay"
Level: Elementary
Have students note the movement of bay life while on field trips. Review bay life movement on in-class Biological Community spreadsheets. Compare and contrast the movement of various bay life.
Activity (pdf file, 3K)

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"Narragansett Clay Bay"
Level: Elementary
Create a Microcosm of Narragansett Bay Biological Communities in the classroom with clay.
Activity (pdf file, 3K)

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"Design a Lure and Catch a Fish"
Level: Elementary, Middle School
Design a lure and catch a fish.
Activity (pdf file, 6K)

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"Estuary Survival Activity"
Level: Elementary, Middle School
Students will investigate what invasive species are feeding on and how this may harm the species native to an estuary.
Activity (pdf file, 9K) ~ Activity Worksheet (pdf file, 6K)

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"The Great Fishing "Debait""
Level: Middle School, High School
The class will debate the issues of fishing and fishery resources. Students will take the positions of different groups involved in the fishing debate.
Activity (pdf file, 9K)

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"An Interview with a Narragansett Bay Creature"
Level: Elementary
After a visit to the DOEE virtual field trip, biota gallery, or slide show, students will work in teams, taking turns to interview each other using the questions in this activity.
Activity (pdf file, 4K)

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"Let's Go Fishing in Narragansett Bay"
Level: Elementary, Middle School, High School
This activity is a description of fishing activity on Narragansett Bay. The activity is written in field trip format and has images of fishing techniques and locations on the Bay.
Activity (pdf file, 1,217K)

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"Making Paper"
Level: Elementary
This activity takes you through the steps to make paper ith algae and newspaper. Each step is illustrated with pictures. This activity is offered as a sequential series of web pages.
Go to Making Paper Web Pages

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