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The ocean has been in the news, which is why we are excited about this new middle grade book. From Josh and Bethanie Hestermann (the team that brought us Zoology for Kids),  we have Marine Science for Kids: Exploring and Protecting Our Watery World, Includes Cool Careers and 21 Activities with a foreword by Stephanie Arne.

This is one of the fantastic Chicago Review Press books that combine great information with fun hands-on activities to reinforce learning. Throw in beautiful color photographs of awesome animals and mini-biographies of marine science professionals, and you have a treasure trove for middle grade readers.

The book starts with a time line of some important historical events in the field of marine science, with references to discoveries made and boundaries pushed by the likes of Jacques Cousteau, Marie Tharp, and Sylvia Earle.

Then right off the bat, the reader learns what marine science is. Did you know marine scientists study not only saltwater creatures in oceans, but also those found in rivers and lakes?

Now the reader can hop to the chapter that covers their favorite habitat, such as the coast or deep ocean, or they can read from cover to cover. There's so much to discover.

Activities from the book include:

  1. Building a water molecule
  2. Making an edible coral reef
  3. Exploring marine camouflage
  4. Constructing a water-propelled squid
  5. Testing methods for cleaning up an oil spill, etc.

With a glossary, resource list, and selected bibliography, this book is a useful reference for planning lessons beyond the book, as well.

Marine Science for Kids is a must have for budding marine scientists, but will also entrance young readers interested in animals or the environment. It is a fabulous reference for educators, too.

Activity Inspired by Marine Science for Kids:

Hurricanes are violent forms of weather on land, but what happens underwater?

Many things happen as winds churn the ocean water and rain falls. These changes can harm the organisms living there.

Hurricanes cause major changes underwater:

  • Strong water currents and waves
  • Rapid mixing of temperatures and salinity - top water is cooler and more salty than it usually is, lower layers are warmer and less salty.
  • Reduced amounts of dissolved oxygen in the surface water
  • More suspended particles, silt
  • Movement of sand

Usually the larger fish that are strong swimmers, such as sharks, can swim away. But slower or sessile creatures take a pounding. Some are killed.

Activity:

Watch the following video of a coral reef underwater during a hurricane. Make notes of the things you see. Then compare to the ReefCam today. What changes do you notice?

References:

What Happens Underwater University of Miami Rosenstiel School

Other Marine Science Activities (from this blog):

  1. Humpback whales (with three activities)
  2. Jellyfish (with craft activity)
  3. Learn about Steller Sea Lions
  4. Sea Horses and Other Fish
  5. Shore Birds
  6. Tide Pool Invertebrates
  7. Fish (with three activities)

For a bunch of ocean-themed lesson plans, try the Ocean Portal.

 

Looking for more? Try our growing list of children's books about marine science at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 9 and up
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (June 1, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1613735367
ISBN-13: 978-1613735367

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

(Note: our usual Tuesday feature, Seed of the Week, will be back next week. Today we are going to visit the ocean. )

Algae and oceans go hand in hand, but what exactly are algae anyway? Are they plants? What are seaweeds and are they related to algae?

seaweed(Public domain photograph of seaweeds by Axel Kuhlmann)

Although algae may be large and appear plant-like, they are actually protists (belong to the Kingdom Protista). They have chlorophyll like plants so they can make their own food from the energy of sunlight, but they lack common plant structures like roots or leaves. Seaweeds, like that shown in the foreground of photograph above, are large forms of algae, also called "macroalgae." The small forms that float around in the water are often called "microalgae" or "phytoplankton."

You may be wondering why anyone would care about algae. Turns out, algae are important in a lot of ways. First of all, algae are the basis for aquatic food chains in both seawater and freshwater. They are also used for food, as fertilizer, and as a source of products such as agar and carrageenan. Algae are being studied as a potential source of biofuel. Let's not forget, they make a significant amount of oxygen. In fact, it is not too farfetched to think that algae might be the most important organisms on the planet!

Activities for kids:

1. Investigate seawater under a microscope

If you have access to a microscope, obtain a sample of seawater (or pondwater) and take a look at what is in it. Look for green, blue-green or even brown or red organisms that are algae. Examining samples under a microscope is fun because it often leads to surprises.

2. Make an algal collection

You can make a collection of pieces of algae or seaweed you find at the beach, similar to the way you make a plant collection. Some of them can have beautiful shapes and colors.

640px-Adolphe_Millot_algues(Illustration Adolphe Millot algues public domain from Wikimedia)

Gather pieces of algae on the beach and keep it moist in seawater. Once you are home, float the seaweed/algae onto a piece of heavy paper. Press the paper between layers of felt to remove the water and allow it to dry. The Hawaii Botany Department has step-by-step instructions on how to make an algal herbarium.

 

example-image(Figure 3 - Seaweeds are pressed on herbarium sheets for further study and repository in botanical Herbaria. The species that Dr. Suzanne Fredericq is pressing was found at about 66 m depth (200 ft) in the West Flower Garden Banks, and represents a new record for the Gulf of Mexico. -From NOAA)

If you don’t want to disturb nature, which is a good idea, you can take close up photographs of what you find instead. You can share what you discover via blogs, websites or photo streams.

Once you have a collection, visit some of these websites to help you identify what you have. Seaweeds are not too easy to identify, but you might at least figure out which group your sample belongs to.

Biomara has an extensive booklet of activities/lessons about algae to download (30.3 MB). The link for the "entire teaching resource" is right above the "Information for Teachers" bold header. It contains large color photographs of many common "macroalgae."

Who knows where studying algae might lead you. Perhaps you will be inspired to become a marine botanist, like Sylvia Earle (previous post).

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This post is part of our ocean science series. Visit the landing page for links to all the related posts.

ocean-science-week-badge

 

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Want a first hand look at young scientists exploring a recently discovered phenomenon? Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman, with photographs by Annie Crawley introduces the middle grade level reader to three graduate students who spend nearly three weeks aboard a research vessel in the Pacific Ocean taking samples from what is called the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch."

Plastic, Ahoy!- Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

In August of 2009, Miriam Goldstein, Chelsea Rochman, and Darcy Taniguchi departed on a ship as part of the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition or SEAPLEX (see the blog). The book chronicles their observations and experiences.

You can get a feel for the book in this trailer:

 

 

Surprisingly, the students found that much of the plastic in the Garbage Patch is small broken pieces, basically "the size of confetti." The small size is going to make removing the plastic from the water very difficult because any net that is the right size to capture the bits of plastic will also capture all sorts of marine life. The bottom line is that these are not all full-sized water bottles floating around.

The team members also discovered that 9% of 147 the fish they sampled during the trip had plastic bits in their stomachs. Given that there is some evidence plastic bits tend to accumulate toxins from the water, this could have long term negative consequences to food chains. Obviously more studies need to be done.

Not all the news was necessarily negative, however. One study found that sea-going relatives of water striders called "sea striders" are actually doing better in the Garbage Patch because more debris means more places they can lay their eggs (Plastic Trash Altering Ocean Habitats, Scripps Study Shows).

Plastic, Ahoy! can be a jumping off point for many potential science experiments and explorations of your own. Here are just a few ideas:

1. The lifespans of plastic objects

How long will your trash bag live? is an idea for a science fair project that compares the longevity of plastic, paper, and biodegradable plastic bags buried in the ground. This is a long duration experiment (months).

In this article, a Teen Decomposes Plastic Bag in Three Months

2. Preventing plastic from reaching the ocean

Science Buddies has a science fair project idea for looking at the design of storm drains with the idea of keeping trash from getting into the water

3. Floating ocean trash experiments from previous post at Growing with Science

4. The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Debris Program has educational materials such as:

Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman, with photographs by Annie Crawley is an exciting introduction to science, told through the stories of actual young scientists. You will want to share it with children interested in marine biology, chemistry and conservation. It would make perfect reading for Earth Day (April 22, 2014) or World Ocean Day (June 8, 2014) or a unit on the environment, particularly the marine environment.

Recommended Ages:  8-12
Publisher: Millbrook Pr Trade (January 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1467712833
ISBN-13: 978-1467712835

Disclosures: This book was provided for review via Blue Slip Media. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon, and if you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

 

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.