Lesson 5b – Online Data and Supplemental Evidence

Description: The purpose of this lesson is for students to model the scientific process – which includes the experimental bench work they are completing in Lesson 5a and the collaboration and connection to others’ research.  This lesson gives students the time and resources to learn from the work being completed by scientists and through their online contributions.




Course: Life Science, Integrated Science, STEM, BioChem, Marine Science

Unit: Ocean Acidification, Ecology, Biogeochemical Cycling

See Standards Addressed for all NGSS, WA State (Science, Math and Literacy), and NOAA Ocean Literacy Education Standards. In particular, for this lesson, due to the variety of activities completed, the students will learn and do a variety of items.  However, to give you a broad, big picture overview, in addition to the aligned objectives linked above, for this lesson, here is an overview of:

What Students Learn:
  • It is important to prepare and plan time accordingly for successful wet bench work that leads to understanding – this includes using laboratory “down time” wisely.
  • Scientists share resources and build off each other’s work.
  • There are many sources for online, real-time data and supplemental evidence.
  • Scientists use multiple ways of obtaining evidence in ocean studies, directly and through proxies, by measuring changes in solids, liquids, and gases.  These include ice core sampling, in place (in situ) mesocosms and sensors, aerial observations, and others.
What Students Do:
  • Students use their time outside of the lab to explore reliable resources on ocean acidification that connect to their interest groups and experiments.


Purpose:  The purpose of this lesson is for students to model the scientific process – which includes the experimental bench work they are completing in Lesson 5a and the collaboration and connection to others’ research.  This lesson gives students the time and resources to learn from the work being completed by scientists and through their online contributions.

Why is this lesson important?  Just as networks are comprised of many parts, scientific research is similarly comprised of many parts or tasks.  These include, but of course are not limited to, bench work (wet labs and experimentation), data analysis, presentation, publication, and a great deal of planning, reading, and learning about others’ work.  Science today is very collaborative. While all oceanographers are not able to go to Antarctica to directly analyze ice core samples, they are able to benefit from that data.  Generally, data gathered by scientists are recorded into shared databases. These databases are freely available to scientists and the public. Scientists often experience great success when they productively use not only their time, but also their data, others’ data, and all available resources. These skills are extremely necessary when the research involves living organisms and cells.  Cells divide and exist as they will and it is important to plan time around the mandated cell counting times.  In the classroom, this is even more difficult, given the time constraints. In order to foster the development of this time management skill in students, AND allow for easy implementation of lab experiments in your classroom, Lesson 5b focuses on providing a variety of supplemental activities that students can complete according to the amount of time they have available while running their experiments.  Below is a list of possible materials outlined according to how a teacher might use the activities.  Prior to 2018, we had the page outlined according to topics.  Use this link to view that archived page.
As you consider how to bring these supplemental activities to your students, a good place to start is with our Cool Finds and Resources page.  There are many great resources in this document in addition to those listed below. We will be updating this document frequently as we learn about new resources.
The activities students complete should match the focus and content of their interest group and lab experiment.  For instance, the students in the Marine Calcifying Organisms group would benefit from the Virtual Sea Urchin lab.  This is absolutely true if that group is completing an activity such as measuring the percent mass change of sea shells in marine water with various pH levels.  This is a less time intensive lab experiment (as compared to someone growing and counting diatoms).  Having the students complete this online lab helps with classroom management and learning.

Introducing students to these self-driven activities

Complete this optional, supplemental lesson once students have fully begun their experiments (from Lesson 5a).  Day 2 of their experiments is an optimal time.  Begin the class period by asking them, “When you envision a scientist, what do you imagine them doing?”  Give them a moment to write some thoughts down in a lab notebook.  Then ask a few students to share.  Generally, students imagine scientists doing experiments, mixing chemicals, and/or working with scientific materials (beakers, pipets, colorful solutions).  Share with them that most scientists complete their bench experiments and/or field work and then spend a significant amount of their time learning about other people’s research, analyzing data, building mathematical models, developing visualizations, and sharing their own data and methods with others. Effective scientists make great use of their time by coordinating events so that they can have experiments running, data gathering, and learning happening as stategically as possible.  This lesson contains activities that students can use in order to learn as much as they can about our oceans while they manage their experimental goals. Here is one example of a collaborative animation that compiles many types of data to help others understand the history of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.  This animation is a product that numerous scientists and programmers contributed to so that we can better understand Trends in Atmospheric CO2.

  • Walking students through this 3-minute animation is very important and well worth the time. There is a lot of information in the animation, which can be easily lost when first viewed or when viewed by students without teacher guidance.
  • It is a VERY powerful visual that gives us insight into our past and future. It also is a terrific example of the understanding that can come from combining multiple data types and sources.
  • One of the key things to point out to students is that the rate of change in carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere is 10-100 times faster than ever observed through our geologic records.
  • Tell students that there are many such terrific, reliable resources online that can be used to further their understanding and help them make sense of what is happening with their experiment.  The work that they do in this lesson will also help them as they begin preparing for the Summit that culminates this unit. Also, if you instead want to use something that breaks down these trends by individual variables, then this NASA resource might be useful for you. It breaks down trends into amount of Sea Ice, Sea Level, Carbon dioxide and Global Temperature and contains sliders to show change over time.

Student Guided Worksheets/Labs

Teachers can print out these worksheets in advance for when students have “down time” from their experiment.  Below are the links to the websites and the accompanying worksheets.  Note:  The carbon footprint calculators do not have a worksheet. Have students record their results in their lab notebooks to be used for class discussion at a later time.

Activities (requiring teacher prep)

These activities are available for teachers to set up as an additional lab experience for students with “down time” or could be used as whole class activity (time permitting).  The activities do required prep and interaction by teacher.

Data Collection in the Real World

The following websites have real-time data for students to examine.  There are a couple worksheets that can be printed out to lead students through some of the websites and answer some real time data questions.  Teachers can use this to have students just research how data is collected or can be used as a comparison to their lab experiment.  It can be incorporated many ways, but the data worksheet will at least keep students on task and examining the websites with a clear objective.
**Note:  Here is a good precursor to the data collection worksheet.  How do scientists get data?   This is an important question and the answer is not always easy for students to visualize.  This video, Inches of Snow and Tide, from the Olympic National Park discusses sea-level rise and climate change research. Beginning at minute 10.00 and going to 13.00, two scientists work on downloading a year’s worth of intertidal zone temperature data.  The visual on the sensors, the STEM process, and on being a scientist who gets their hands dirty, are terrific and beneficial for students to see.

Interactive Data Websites (with guided worksheets):

Data Websites (with videos, interactives, and lots of good information):

  • Carbon Seeps – start with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. These are areas in the ocean where carbon dioxide swells up from the ocean floor are called carbon seeps.  These areas of high carbon gases and lowered pH offer insight into ocean acidification.  Students can use the internet to research more on these carbon seeps.
  • Ocean Data Viewer (ODV): http://data.unep-wcmc.org/  (lessons in development)
  •  NOAA leads to many other data access sites.
PLEASE NOTE:  We hope this new version of Lesson 5b is more useful for teachers.  If you miss the previous version, you can find it here Lesson 5B – Online Data and Supplemental Evidence (pre-2018 version). Any feedback can be submitted to the SEE Team at see@isbscience.org or 206-732-1453.

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How will I know they know? There are many opportunities for formative assessment within this lesson. See the completed worksheets and/or student notebook entries (depending upon which of the above activities they completed). Also, you can understand how well they internalized the above learning as you monitor groups while they plan for their summit in Lesson 6.

  • Mini-Surveys:  As part of our effort to ensure quality STEM learning experiences, we invite you to participate in short, but informative surveys. You can complete one, all or any variation between. Here is a downloadable Teacher Overview to guide you through all surveys.
    • A mini-survey is a short survey (1-3 minutes) that students and teachers will use several times over the course of the module. The questions are identical each time, so the same link can be used each time.
    • Student Mini-survey link (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OA_StudentSurvey). Please provide 2-4 minutes for students to complete the mini-survey while in class. It should take most students one minute or so, especially after the first survey or two (because the questions remain the same).
      • When prompting students to take this survey at this timepoint (#4), please remind students that this survey covers information taught over the entirety of Lesson 5 (which includes experimentation of 5a, and the supplemental materials found in 5b and 5c.  Here is an example prompt for students: Take this mini-survey while thinking of the lessons we completed on [Tuesday through Friday] that allowed you to:
        • work on your experiment
        • use online data, websites, videos, and
        • use models to further explore and understand OA
      • Please complete the teacher survey while students are taking the mini-survey, or at the end of the day. Please take it on the same day the students take theirs (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OA_TeacherSurvey).
    • Here is the entire Survey Teacher Guide that you can use when implementing these surveys.  Thank you!


Please see above list for Resources, all highlighted in blue.

Extension Activities

For more on carbon dioxide and temperature – this model is helpful (CCEarth4U).  Mari Knutson Herbert, a SEE teacher, put together this worksheet to guide students through the activity. For an engaging well done video, see Cosmos:  A Spacetime Odyssey, Episode 12, The World Set Free The entire episode is about climate change and carbon dioxide’s role in this change. The episode is available at:  http://www.cosmosontv.com/watch/270803523723 SEE Teacher, Megan DeVault, created this guide to assist in watching the video: Student Guide, Student Example, and Teacher Key  (link coming soon) Here are several segments from the episode if entire viewing is not desired: Weather vs Climate – this contains a terrific analogy of the difference: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/cosmos-a-spacetime-odyssey/videos/weather-versus-climate-change/ The Diary in the Snow – how CO­2 is calculated from ice: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/cosmos-a-spacetime-odyssey/videos/the-diary-in-the-snow/


Many teachers and scientists participated in the creation of these lessons and content.  Please view the list of credits for this work.