Classroom Activities

The activities in this section will introduce students to fundamental science processes and help them  build the skills necessary to interpret ocean core samples. The list below contains links, suggested age levels, and short descriptions. For more detail, click the title of each activity.

Grades 5-8

A “bit” of engineering

  • This Earth science coring activity provides an opportunity for students to look at ocean drilling through the eyes of the driller and the engineer. Student teams test three different drilling tools on a variety of ocean bottom substrates to discover which type of drill allows them to retrieve the most intact core for study.

How Small? How Big? How Much?

  • Students investigate relative size using foraminifera and explore averages, magnification, and the importance of forams to the oceanic food chain.

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 of the types of sediments that make up the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Where in the World?

  • After learning the basics about latitude & longitude, students will plot locations on a map and answer questions about coordinates.

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.

Downhole Logging Technology

  • Students read about “down-hole logging” technology, in which instruments are lowered from the drilling ship into the hole after cores have been removed to measure physical properties that reveal more about seafloor sediments and rocks. They then examine sample logs to note patterns and interpret the data.

Secrets of the Sediments

  • Students will graph and analyze data from sediments collected off the coast of Santa Barbara, California to determine whether this information can be used to study historical climate change.

Grades 9-12

Citizen Scientists and Decision Making

  • From websites and newspapers to Internet searches, the evening news, and popular magazines, “Citizen Scientists,” often receive and have to decipher scientific information directly from the media. Students will be able to determine whether or not information about science is reliable and describe the kinds of questions they should ask to discover the accuracy of science news articles.

Density of Ocean 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.

Drilling Rates Through Ocean Crust

  • Students will be able to calculate drilling rates over a three-day period during Expedition 309 by using the data provided.

Gas Hydrates

  • By modeling how gas hydrates work, this activity helps teachers foster a class-wide discussion to form a question and hypothesis and design an experiment to discover what methane hydrates are and how they relate to the gas laws.

How Old Is It?

  • First, students become micropaleontologists to learn how to use microfossils to obtain ages for cores. Next, they learn how paleomagnetism is used to accurately date cores of rock onboard the JOIDES Resolution.

Visual Core Descriptions

  • Students will be able to use their prior knowledge, classroom resources, and the visual identification key and record sheets used by scientists aboard the JOIDES Resolution to identify and describe distinguishable characteristics in one or more core sections.

What Is a Core?

  • Ocean drilling samples are recovered in cores, long tubes of material collected while drilling beneath the sea floor. Specific terminology is used to precisely describe the location of a sample taken in a core.


JOIDES Resolution