Teacher Sign Up
Sign In
Monday Morning Ready05.24.2019
Jumpstart Your Week!

Ocean heat waves, defined as periods of extreme temperatures lasting five days or more, have become increasingly common in recent decades. In fact, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change, the Earth’s number of annual ocean heat wave days spiked by around 54 percent between 1987 and 2016.... < read more >
Grade 3-4

Do you think people think or care about threats to the ocean as much as they ought to? Why or why not?

Grade 5-6

The article compares an ocean heat wave to a wildfire blazing through a forest. Based on what you have learned about ocean heat waves, do you think this is a good comparison? Why or why not?

Grade 7-8

Imagine that ocean heat waves become so common that marine communities are permanently destroyed or displaced. What do you think people would need to do to adjust to this change?

Grade 9-10

According to the article, researchers studied data from more than 1,000 ecological records to hone in on multiple recorded instances of unusually high temperatures. Doing this allowed them to identify regions and species deemed most vulnerable to temperature surges. What do you think people should do with this information? How do you think people can help?

Profile an Ocean Researcher


  1. Identify a scientific researcher who studies the ocean, or have students identify candidates of their own. Areas of study could include plants, animals, water quality, the impact of climate change, etc.
  2. Instruct students to conduct research to learn about this scientist and his or her work. Encourage them to take detailed notes.
  3. Give each student a piece of plain white paper. Have students turn their papers into a flip book. To do this, instruct them to fold their papers in half vertically and measure and draw a horizontal line one inch away from the crease in three places: on the front cover and above and below the fold in the inside portion of the flipbook. Then have students measure and draw six equally spaced vertical lines from the edge of the paper to each horizontal line. (The two outer segments will be 1 1/2 inches wide and the four inner segments will each be 1 3/8 inches wide.) Finally, have students cut along the vertical lines-on the outer cover only-and carefully fold each segment along the horizontal line. (If you wish to save time, create a master copy and make duplicates. Students can then fold and cut to create their own flipbooks.)
  4. Have students label the six sections on the cover as follows: "Who?" "What?" "Where?" "When?" "Why?" "How?"
  5. Have students compose questions beginning with each word or introduce guidelines of your own. For instance, students could write a short biography of the researcher to answer "Who?" or explore "How can I help?" to answer "How?"
  6. Challenge students to summarize their notes to effectively answer each question in the allotted space inside the flipbook. Encourage them to add relevant graphics, drawings or pictures in the open horizontal space.


Invite students to share their flipbooks with the class. Once all presentations are complete, have the class identify key problems occurring in the ocean and how research currently underway can help scientists find solutions.


Grades 3-4:
Prior to conducting this activity, select one scientist. Have students investigate the scientist and his or her research as a class. Then have each student create a flipbook of their own.
Grades 5-6:
As a class, conduct research to identify several scientists doing interesting research about the ocean. Or, if you prefer, identify several scientists before conducting this activity. Then divide the class into small groups. Assign each group a scientist and give them time to investigate his or her research. Instruct each group member to create a flipbook about the scientist and his or her work.
Grades 7-8:
Divide the class into pairs. Have each pair identify a scientist who studies some aspect related to the ocean. Make sure there are no repeats. Give students time to investigate the scientist and his or her research. Then have each partner create a flipbook. Instruct students to include graphics, a map or photos for each entry.
Grades 9-10:
Instruct each student to identify a scientist who studies some aspect related to the ocean. Make sure there are no repeats. Give students time to investigate the scientist and his or her work. As they do, challenge them to find research on the topic that the scientist has published in a journal. Encourage students to cite this information as they create their flipbooks. Once all flipbooks are done, randomly match up two students. Challenge partners to identify at least one way their two scientists could collaborate to address an ocean issue in an innovative way.
Ocean: Find Your Blue—Educator’s Corner
This National Museum of Natural History site features a collection of top resources from Smithsonian collaborators to provide you with teacher-tested, ocean science materials for your classroom. Use the activities, lessons and educational resources to bring the ocean to life for your students.

Biodiversity of Ocean Invertebrates
Use the videos, webcasts, lessons, activities and resources in this National Museum of Natural History site to introduce students to marine invertebrates and the ecosystems where they live.

Marine Plastics
Plastic surrounds us. And depending on the type of plastic and where it lands, items can take days to hundreds of years to break down into very small pieces, which likely never biodegrade. Introduce students to this problem and how it ultimately impacts our oceans with this resource from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Ocean Plastic 2010
Just what does an ocean polluted with plastic look like? Invite students to watch this video from the Smithsonian Learning Lab to find out for themselves.

Coral Reefs and Ocean Acidification
Invite students to watch this Smithsonian Insider video in which Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute MarineGEO Postdoctoral Fellow Maggie Johnson outlines her research studying the effects of ocean acidification on marine coal near Bocas del Toro, Panama.

Turning Ocean Garbage Into Gold
From the common plastic water bottle to the shoes of tsunami victims, read this Smithsonian magazine special report to learn how one recycling organization tries to find a home for all ocean refuse.

Ocean Dead Zones Are Getting Worse Globally Due to Climate Change
Warmer waters and other factors will cause nearly all areas of low oxygen to grow by the end of the century. Read this Smithsonian magazine special report to learn how and why.

Predicting Impacts of Climate Change in Antarctic Waters
Smithsonian researcher Patrick Neal and his lab at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center are studying UV impacts on phytoplankton in the Antarctic oceans to help create models of how phytoplankton respond in various scenarios of climate change. Visit this Smithsonian Global site—and watch the video at the end—to learn more.

Lessons in Sea-Level Rise
What is sea-level rise and how does it affect us? This “Teachable Moment” form NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory looks at the science behind sea-level rise and offers lessons and tools for teaching students about this important climate topic.

Human Pollution May Be Fertilizing the Oceans. That’s Not a Good Thing.
Our iron emissions from coal and steel may be fueling ocean life, and trapping carbon in the process. Read this Smithsonian magazine special report to learn why that is such a big problem.