Ocean Influences on Climate Lesson Plan
1. Students will brainstorm about the geographical factors that
contribute to climate
2. Students will graph average monthly temperatures at two island
groups, and analyze the data for similarities and differences.
3. Students will demonstrate comprehension of the impact of ocean
currents on coastal temperatures by completing a quiz.
- Internet access
- Graph paper
- Map of ocean currents (available in most atlases)
1. To introduce this lesson, the teacher should ask the students
"What factors affect the climate of a location?"
If they need further prompting, ask them what the climate in
Alaska is like. Even if the students have never been to Alaska,
they have some idea of the climate. Why? Hopefully, they'll understand
that latitude is a key factor.
If there are mountains near your town, ask the students how the
climate on the mountains is different from the climate in your
town. This should remind them that elevation plays a factor in
climate, which is why snow-capped mountains can been seen from
If you had two cities at the same latitude, same elevation, but
one was coastal and one was inland, ask the students to hypothesize
about whether there would be any climate differences.
2. Have students get on the internet and research the climate
of the Galapagos Islands, located in the eastern equatorial Pacific
Ocean. They should record average daily temperatures each month
during the year.
3. Next students will obtain the average daily temperature each
month during the year for Palau, also located in the western equatorial
4. Students will graph these temperatures on the same piece of
graph paper, using different colors for each data set.
5. Students will write a "Data Analysis" explaining
what they see on the graphs. They should note any similarities
and differences between the temperatures of the two locations.
6. Teacher should now hand out a map of the ocean currents, or
display one on an overhead. Most atlases contain this type of
7. Why are the climates different? What could be happening to
cause two island groups, in the same ocean, at the same latitude
and elevation, to have different climates? The teacher may choose
to lead a class discussion, or have students brainstorm in groups.
By the end of the lesson, students should understand that the
temperature of large bodies of water has a large impact on the
air temperatures on nearby land.
EVALUATION / ASSESSMENT
Using the same ocean current map used above, the teacher can quiz
the students (formally or informally) by naming other coastal
locations on Earth, and asking the students if there is a cold
water current or a warm water current nearby. Students can also
be asked if the coastal climate will be cooler or warmer than
that of areas at similar latitude and elevation.
Temperature graphs will be assessed for completeness and accuracy
Data analysis and hypotheses will be assessed for the level of
independent though shown by the student
Note for educators: Although Jennifer and Jane's reseearch cruise ended, the EPIC research continues. Please use this web site, Jennifer and Jane's lesson plans, daily logs, the videos, and the photos to educate your students about climate, El Niño, and scientific research in general.
Consider this web site, as well as the TAO web site, a resource for teaching your students.
Many organizations and countries are involved in funding the EPIC Experiment. Primary U. S. funding is provided by The National Science Foundation and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
This website is maintained and frequently updated by
NOAA's Office of Global Programs
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