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Education: Student Outcomes

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Outcome: Compare climates considering factors such as precipitation, temperature, and distance from an ocean.
Grade level: K-4
Theme: climate

Consider distance from an ocean in this lesson where students examine a map and globe for comparison of the physical features of Earth's continents. Students will play the GeoSpy continents game and manipulate an online map, then write paragraphs comparing and contrasting two continents.

The idea for this lesson plan was inspired by Suzie Howell-Olsen and Katie Hansen of Meadow School in Petaluma, California, who received a teacher grant from the National Geographic Education Foundation in support of a year-long project called A Survey of the Continents.
Grade level: K-4
Theme: climate

Have you ever wondered why one area of the world is a desert, another a grassland, and another a rainforest? Why are there different forests and deserts, and why are there different types of life in each area? The answer is climate.

Climate is the characteristic condition of the atmosphere near the earth's surface at a certain place on earth. It is the long-term weather of that area (at least 30 years). This includes the region's general pattern of weather conditions, seasons and weather extremes like hurricanes, droughts, or rainy periods.

World biomes are controlled by climate. The climate of a region will determine what plants will grow there, and what animals will inhabit it. All three components, climate, plants and animals are interwoven to create the fabric of a biome.

Compare land biomes in this tool with ocean biomes.
Grade level: K-4
Theme: climate

The ocean holds the largest of Earth's biomes. It covers 70 percent of the planet's surface.

Life in the ocean is diverse. The smallest creatures that call the ocean home are so tiny that they can only be seen with a microscope. The largest creatures are blue whales, which can be as much as 34 meters (110 feet) long. There are many different ways to live in the ocean, too. Some animals travel huge distances through ocean water. Others stay in the same place on the ocean floor their entire lives. Some burrow beneath the sand while others float near the surface.

The ocean is not the same everywhere. There are many different ecosystems within the ocean depending on conditions such as the water temperature, the amount of sunlight that filters through the water, and the amount of nutrients.

Sunlight breaks through the top layer of ocean water. It can make its way as deep as 200 meters (656 feet). Almost all marine life (about 90 percent) lives within this top, sunlit layer of the ocean. There, phytoplankton, algae, and plants like seagrass make their own food through the process of photosynthesis and are the start of most marine food chains.

The temperature of ocean water varies depending on its location. Water near the polar regions is colder than water near the equator. Water that is deep in the ocean is colder than water that is near the ocean surface. Many animals and other organisms can only survive at certain temperatures. Others are able to survive at a range of temperatures and can live in more places in the ocean.

Compare ocean biomes in this tool with land biomes.