The Ocean Floor - Science
Janis Nevison, Teaches Grades 4-8
Students make a model of the ocean floor with this hands-on science activity.
- shoebox with a lid - 1 per group of 2-3
- paper maché materials (flour, water, glue mixed in a bowl)
- strips of newspaper or newsprint
- piece of dowel about 25 cm long
- graphing paper
This activity was done after finding the definitions for continental slope, trench, basin, continental shelf, and range. These definitions are the required background knowledge.
- Students are instructed to draw a quick plan of an ocean floor as seen from the side; including the edge of a continent, a continental shelf, a continental slope, a basin, a trench, and a range. They require their definitions to do this.
- When the plan is checked and they can properly identify each part, the groups set out to create the ocean floor in their shoebox with paper maché.
- When the paper maché is dry (or close), the groups cut or punch about 8 holes spaced evenly apart down the centre of the shoebox lid. The lid is then put on the box, hiding the ocean floor.
- The students take their graph paper and create a graph with the numbers one to eight along the bottom (number of holes) and about 1-25 (measurement in cm) up the other side.
- Once the graph is set up properly, the students put the dowel in hole #1 until it hits "bottom". They record the measurement on the graph with a simple dot. This continues for holes #2-8.
- When all of the holes have been measured, the students should join their dots using a ruler in order. When this is done, they should turn their graph upside down and label the parts of the ocean floor appropriately. They should see a representation of the floor they created in the shoebox.
My students found this very interesting and loved to see what that they had copied their ocean floor onto a graph, and of course, paper maché is always messy fun!
I found parts of this lesson somewhere and just built on it- here's how I did it. Adaptation is always necessary!
Having a multi-level 5-8 classroom I always find it challenging to find activities that can be done all together, yet not too easy and build on what we are doing. I used this lesson at the end of our Water Systems unit (Ontario curriculum - gr.8) and it was a wonderful success!
Another class that didn't have time to make the boxes borrowed ours and were fascinated at the results - of course we didn't let them look in the boxes first!
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