Daily Learning Themes

MONDAY                        The Boat and Our Location

It is only Monday, yet we have been at sea for three days, and have begun to collect geological, biological, and physical data from the Santa Barbara Basin. Today, we would like to introduce you to the boat, the R.V Melville, as well as show you what life is like onboard a research vessel. You will also explore some of the research questions being pursued on the Cal Echoes cruise, and meet many of the people involved with the research and educational outreach efforts.


Life On A Research Vessel – download

Suggested Lesson Plans:

CalEchoes Introduction An introduction to the science and researchers aboard Cal-Echoes. Studentscreated great videos as part of this lesson! Created by Diana Tucker, Berea City School District-Roehm Middle School. Lesson plan (pdf)

What Floats Your Boat? (Physics)—Using aluminum foil, bowls of water, and pennies, students explore the concepts of buoyancy, displacement, and surface area. Good for all ages.  Created by Ben Neal, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Jerry Ruiz, San Diego Unified Schools-Dana Middle School.  Lesson plan (pdf) (word)

What is a biology researcher? Students are introduced to the research cruise by developing skills in asking testable questions.  Good for all ages.  Created by Steve Blatnica, Berea City School District-Midpark High School (pdf) (word) Testable questions handout (word)

The Great Plankton Race (Physics/Biology)—Students explore the world of zooplankton, design their own plankton, and race their creations in water (the slowest design “wins”), demonstrating the adaptations plankton have for maintaining buoyancy. Good for all ages.

Bathymetry: Mapping the Seafloor (Earth Science)—Great for high school students, these activities involves identifying and mapping the 3-dimensional features of the seafloor. From NOAA’s Ocean Explorer curriculum.

Testable Questions (Scientific Process)—Middle School or High School lessons, created by our Cal Echoes Teachers, Steve Blatnica and Diana Tucker

Mapping the Santa Barbara Basin (Earth Science) Coming Soon!



TUESDAY                        Sampling the Seafloor

The Cal-Echoes cruise is heavily involved with coring the seafloor. Many types of equipment are being used to sample the sediment, from the surface of the seabed down to 20 meters beneath the surface. The Santa Barbara Basin is an anoxic basin, which means that there is no oxygen available and very few animals can burrow into the sediment. This allows biological and chemical remnants of what once lived in the surrounding waters and coast in the past to become locked in layers the sediment. These layers are similar to the rings on a tree and create a time-capsule into the past.  Cal Echoes scientists will be looking for ancient DNA, fossilized fish teeth and otoliths (ear bones), squid beaks, and other material that will help tell the story of the life, weather, and physical conditions of the Santa Barbara Basin in the last century and to the last glacial period 12,000 years ago.


Core Sampling – download or stream

Longitude & Latitude – download or stream


___Piston core ___________Kasten Core____________Box Core

______ _____

Suggested Lesson Plans:

Stories in the Sediment (Geology) Students will use their senses of smell, touch, hearing, and sight to explore the properties of deep sea mud including what it is made of, how it is collected, and what can be found in the mud.  Good for all ages.  Created by Shelley-Glenn Lee, UCSD Cyberbridge. Lesson plan (pdf) (word) Student Workbook (word).

Microfossil Investigation (Geology) – Procedure for collecting microfossils from marine mud. Good for all ages.  Created by Dr. Richard Norris, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. (pdf) (word)

Coring with Clay (Geology) – Students will explore how seafloor sedimentation occurs and howscientists scientific coring techniques through the use of multiple colored modeling clay  (e.g. PlayDoh) and everyday drinking straws.  Good for all ages. Created by Johnnie Lyman, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. (pdf) (word)

What is a Core? (Earth Science) From Deep Earth Academy

A “Bit” of Engineering (Engineering/Earth Science) (Grades 5-12) Student teams test three different drilling tools on a variety of ocean bottom substrates to discover which type of drill allows them to retrieve the most intact core for study. From  Deep Earth Academy.

Secrets of the Sediments (Earth Science) (Grades 5-12): During this activity, students will graph and analyze data from sediments collected off the coast of Santa Barbara, California to determine whether this information can be used to study historical climate change. From Deep Earth Academy

A World of Physics introduces high school earth systems and physics students to the principles of geophysics, geomagnetism, and the people who make them possible. From Deep Earth Academy

A Rocky Timescale 1 (Physics/Earth Science) helps students understand how paleomagnetic records are recorded in rock and obtained by scientists through the measurement and recording of magnetism in model cores. From Deep Earth Academy

How Old is It? Magnetostratigraphy (Paleomagnetism) and the Geomagnetic Polarity Timescale challenges upper high school and undergraduate students in physical and earth sciences with the interpretation of paleomagnetic data used for accurate dating of cores. From Deep Earth Academy____


WEDNESDAY            Life in the California Current: The Water Column and Currents

In addition to the sediment sampling, many biological samples and physical measurements have been taken so far on the Cal Echoes cruise. Scientists use data such as temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen together with their biological samples of fish, squid, invertebrates, and plankton to tell a story about the ecology of the Santa Barbara Basin. The Santa Barbara Basin is located off the coast of Santa Barbara, in the California Current—a unique system of cold, nutrient-rich water that moves southward from Alaska, towards the equator.


Sampling the Water Column – download or stream


______CTD___________Water Filtering


Suggested Lesson Plans:

Sampling the Ocean (Biology) – Students will simulate sampling organisms to generateoceanographic data.  They will become aware of some of the difficulties inherent in sampling the ocean (such as patchiness and behavior of animals). They will also practice drawing conclusions based on data. simulate sampling organisms. Good for high school.  Created by Alison Cawood, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Lesson plan (pdf) (word)

Graphing Oceanographic Data (Physics, Chemistry, Biology) – Students will review graphing and datainterpretation using commonly collected physical oceanographic data.  Good for high school.  Created by Alison Cawood, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. (pdf) (word)

Density Given CTD data, students will be able to calcu­late density and construct density profiles of a water column.  From NOAA Ocean Explorer


THURSDAY                        Lifestyles of the Deep and Glowing

The physical features of the Santa Barbara Basin vary at depth. For instance, sunlight is able to penetrate the upper layers of the water, while the depths of the basin are without light 24 hours a day. At depth, there is immense pressure and it is much colder than at the surface. The life that can be found in the surface waters are very different than what may be found at the greater depths. Living without light and under pressure, we find very well adapted fish and invertebrates that use strategies such as making their own light (bioluminescence) or teaming up with other organisms for greater survival (symbiosis).


Animal Diversity – download or stream


____IKMT___________Squid Jigging ______Sea Creatures


Suggested Lesson Plans:

Survival in the Oceans (Biology) This activity serves as an introduction to the open-ocean ecosystem,the animals that live there, why they are important, and how they are studied by researchers. Good for high school.  Created by Steve Blatnica, Berea City School District-Midpark High School. (pdf) (word)

Mollusc Adaptations (Biology) – Students will examine a variety of live and preserved molluscs.  They will compare and contrast body forms and try to relate the various body forms to different ecological roles and strategies. Good for high school.  Created by Alison Cawood, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. (pdf) (word)


All that Glitters (Biology/Physics), Students explore, through hands-on activities, what colors, if any, are visible down in the deep sea, bioluminescence, and feeding strategies in the deep From NOAA Ocean Explorer

Depth and Pressure: 3-Hole Demonstration. How living things respond to the tremendous pressures that occur at the bottom of oceans fascinates students and teachers alike. The following activities facilitate student learning about the relationship between depth and pressure as well as the effects of those pressures on humans and animals. This activity can be done as a class presentation or as an individual or group challenge. FromSmithsonian Institution and Mississippi State Giant Squid Curriculum Module

Fish Diversity and Bioinformatics (Biology), Coming Soon



FRIDAY                                    Ocean Food Webs

All living things depend on nutrition. Whether they make their own food  (producers such as phytoplankton) or eat other living things (consumers such as fish and zooplankton), ocean creatures are closely linked with one another.  Changes in the physical environment or in the presence or absence of certain species can greatly influence the local ecosystem. The ocean food web is very important to understand, as the fate of the ocean and sources of food for humans hang in the balance.


Food Webs! – download or stream


____MOCNESS_____________ZOOPS_________Bacterial Mat and Animals

_____ ______

Suggested Lesson Plans:

Zooplankton Diversity (Biology) Students will examine live and preserved zooplankton samples. They will describe what the organisms look like and how they move.  Students will use this information to make inferences about how and where the organisms live.  Good for high school. Created by Alison Cawood, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (pdf) (word)

Zooplankton Race (Biology) Students will use their knowledge of zooplankton types and forms to create a “zooplanktonic” organism that is as close to neutrally buoyant as possible.  They will put their creations into a tank of water and see which creature sinks the most slowly.  Students will have several opportunities to improve their designs. Good for high school.  Created by Alison Cawood, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (pdf) (word)

Squid Dissection Lesson from UCSD Preuss School.

Giant Squid Curriculum Module. Includes Oceanography Prefixes/Suffixes and Word Play : Students learn the commonly used prefixes and suffixes of marine research to decode terms in other fields. Several different teaching strategies for vocabulary development are suggested. Squid Dissection : More than just an anatomy lesson, here are the full plans for dissection and student interaction with each part of a squid’s body, including identifying characteristics of the giant squid. From Topo to Bathymetric: Using topographic maps, students create profiles of the ocean floor and learn proper terminology. Then they apply the terms and content to understand bathymetric charts of Kaikoura Canyon where the search for the giant squid is being conducted. Depth and Pressure: 3-Holes Demonstration: What is the relationship between depth and pressure? Students arrive at their own conclusions with this demonstration for small or large group exploration. An emphasis is placed on how such knowledge is necessary for the giant squid. Mission Cephalopod: Students determine the identifying characteristics of cephalopods using a detective theme and graphic organizer. Marine Bioluminescence: Students explore the purposes of luminesence in their own lives and the lives of deep sea animals. Narrowing the Topic: Researchers have to focus on one area of study in order to be effective. This lesson gives students practice narrowing the topic of their own research. Investigations, Problem-Solving, and Exploring Issues: Students use real problems encountered by field researchers as the basis for personal inquiry projects, problem-solving, and ethics discussions. Giant Squid Bean Animal: These are the complete plans for making a morphologically correct bean-filled “baby” of the giant squid.

Nutrient Cycling (Biology/Earth Science), coming soon

Mollusk Diversity/Squid Dissection, coming soon


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