Lesson Plans

This section includes lesson plans that have links to Aquarius science projects and the physics of underwater diving. The lesson plans were developed for all grade levels and address topics in the Life Sciences, Physical Science, Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry and Creative Writing.

Please don’t hesitate to provide feedback based on your classroom experiences. Each lesson plan outlined below links to a fully developed section using the PDF format. The focus question for each lesson plan is summarized to help you select the plans that work best for you.

Aquarius Aquanaut Adventure: a Narrative Writing
Students will be able to research the Aquarius undersea lab as well as former missions. Students will also be able to imagine themselves as aquanauts and write a narrative describing their adventure. This lesson was created by our very own 2015 Teacher Under the Sea, Amy Vinglish - English and Creative Writing teacher in Altoona Area High School in Ebensburg, PA. Amy served as science translation mission specialist during the 'Impacts of Sharks on Coral Reefs' mission at Aquarius in November of 2015. This project was made possible by the generous support of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.

Only in the Ocean
This lesson's main objective is to demonstrate how living things are found all over Earth but each can only live in a habitat that meets their basic needs. This lesson was created by our very own 2015 Teacher Under the Sea, Hillary Cassel - K-1 teacher at Ocean Studies Charter School in Plantation Key, Florida. Hillary served as science translation mission specialist during the 'Impacts of Sharks on Coral Reefs' mission at Aquarius in November of 2015. This project was made possible by the generous support of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.

Build a Coral Reef System
Students will create one component of a healthy coral reef then add his/her organism to the building of a healthy coral reef. This lesson was created by our very own 2015 Teacher Under the Sea, Andrea Williams - Director of Admissions at Feynman School in Bethesda, MD. Andrea served as science translation mission specialist during the 'Impacts of Sharks on Coral Reefs' mission at Aquarius in November of 2015. This project was made possible by the generous support of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.

Habitat Monitoring
Students will be able to understand the purpose and process of habitat monitoring, as well as utilizing the practice of science to conduct an investigation to monitor a habitat. This lesson was created by our very own 2015 Teacher Under the Sea, Martha Loizeaux - K-5 Marine Science Teacher at Ocean Studies Charter School in Plantation Key, Florida. Martha served as science translation mission specialist during the 'Impacts of Sharks on Coral Reefs' mission at Aquarius in November of 2015. This project was made possible by the generous support of the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.

Simulating Microgravity with Buoyancy
This lesson explores buoyancy, density and interaction of forces to explain how underwater training can simulate microgravity environments.

Adventure Beneath the Sea
A children's book for ages 10 and up entitled Adventure Beneath the Sea: Living in an Underwater Science Station documents an Aquarius mission in the early 2000s. The purpose of the expedition was to tag fish around the habitat with acoustic pingers to see if they used the surrounding protected area as a permanent home. The book features the photography of National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry.

If Reefs Could Talk 2010
Five lesson plans available for download from NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries.

Designing an Underwater Habitat for Humans
Students will be able to identify the basic needs for human life support in a non-terrestrial environment. They will also be challenged to use critical thinking skills to make the optimum use of a limited space which must provide a base for research and day to day life. Students must also identify and mitigate safety risks.

NOAA Ocean Exploration Education Materials
For lesson plans, activities and curriculum materials focused on ocean exploration.

Aquarius Reef Base Crossword Puzzle
Dive In!
How do buoyancy, pressure, and light affect the work of underwater scientists? Archimedes’ Principle is investigated, students compare and contrast atmospheric and underwater pressure, and how light is affected as it passes through water is explored.

Pipeline to the Coral Reefs
How is the condition of coral reefs affected by physical oceanographic processes? Students will define and describe internal waves and analyze and discuss the effect of high nutrient concentrations on the condition of coral reefs in Florida. An internal wave movie is available based on real data collected from Conch Reef.

Petite Partners Packing Powerful Punches
How can high densities of corals survive in an environment that has low concentrations of planktonic prey? How do many corals respond to stress caused by high water temperature during summer months? A PowerPoint supplement (in PDF format) is available with this lesson plan: Nutritional Boosts in the Marine Environment. Also available is an Excel Spreadsheet to use with the data that includes extensive information and instructions about how to analyze the data.

Designing an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Autonomous Underwater VehicleBuild a model AUV and investigate the engineering principles behind the design of underwater robots, and how they relate to locomotion in aquatic animals like fishes, sea turtles, and whales.
AUV

Are you Concentrating?
Students will be able to explain the importance of concentration gradients and flow velocity (the movement of water) to the nutrition of reef–building corals.

Counting FishStix
Students will learn how scientists estimate the population size of different fish groups by collecting and analyzing data from surveys they conduct in the classroom.

The Good, the Bad, and the Nasty Tasting
Lionfish
How do seaweeds and soft–bodied invertebrates living attached to the bottom, where predatory fishes and invertebrates are abundant, avoid being eaten? How do scientists determine the ecological roles of natural products produced by marine organisms? Two PowerPoint supplements (in PDF format) are available with this lesson plan:

  1. Chemical Punches in the Marine Environment and
  2. Chemical Ecology.

Design Your Own
What are experimental designs and why are they a critical component of scientific research? What steps are involved in designing a scientific research project?

The Aquarius Construction Task (pending)
The construction task focuses on how teams of scientists communicate to achieve a common technical goal. This classroom activity was designed to match with construction tasks performed by NASA astronauts who participate as aquanauts during Aquarius missions.