Classroom Activities

The activities in this section will give students the opportunity to develop an understanding of oceanic life cycles and tectonic plates through applied concepts of ocean drilling. The list contains links, suggested grade levels, and short descriptions. For more detail, click on the title of each activity.

Grades K-8

Continents and Currents

  • Students will be able to visualize how the movement of continents affects oceanic circulation.

Grades 5-8

Modeling Plate Tectonics

  • In this activity, students will use actual data from historic oceanographic cruises to examine sea floor spreading. They will also model sea floor spreading at a spreading center such as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

It’s Sedimentary, My Dear Watson

  • In this introductory activity, students analyze core sample data and use Google Earth to make their own qualitative observations that help them determine the types of sediments that make up the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Understanding Seafloor Spreading with Nannofossils 

  • Students interpret data from an early leg of the scientific ocean drilling program to determine how scientists solidified their understanding of seafloor spreading.

Grades 5-12

3D Contour Maps

  • Students will learn how to read a contour map of Brothers volcano, and then create a 3D model out of designated supplies.

Expedition to the Seafloor

  • Using GoogleEarth, students study seafloor spreading by analyzing the ages of microbes in sediments at different distances from the mid-Atlantic ridge.

Sediment Deposition Supports Seafloor Spreading

  • Students use Google Earth and ocean cores to analyze seafloor spreading.

Grades 9-12

Augmented Reality Sandbox

  • Students use an Augmented Reality sandbox to understand several earth science processes and specifically create representations of the authentic multibeam sonar projections from the expeditions of the JOIDES Resolution as part of the International Oceanic Discovery Program (IODP).

Corks in the Crust

  • Students use CORK data to investigate the causes, effects, and relationships between fluid pressure measurements at the seafloor and the oceanic crust below.

Plate Tectonics: Scientific Ocean Drilling Contributions

  • Students use original data from an early leg in the history of scientific ocean drilling to participate in the excitement of original discovery from authentic data.

Subduction Zone Conditions

  • Students investigate core samples obtained across a subduction zone off the east coast of Japan and compare the rock found in each drill hole.

The Race is On… With Seafloor Spreading!

  • Students explore average rates of seafloor spreading where the Pacific, Cocos and Nazca plates meet off the coast of Central America. Cores and data were recovered during the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 206 to Site 1256 located in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Volcanoes, Vents and GIFs

  • This activity follows the 5E format, allowing students to learn about volcanoes at subduction zones, rift zones, and at hot spots using a variety of methods, ranging from teacher-directed learning, to student creation, to assessment.

Density of Oceanic Crust

  • Students will be able to calculate the density of samples from a single core, determine the relationship between density and depth in a given core, and measure, calculate, and compare continental rock samples.


JOIDES Resolution