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Live from Antarctica 2: Phytoplankton "See the Light"
While engaged in this activity students will explore phytoplankton, the food of tiny marine animals, particularly krill. Students will prepare a hay infusion in two identical glass aquarium tanks or a 1-liter glass jar and expose one to 24 hours of continuous light, and the other for only four hours during the school day, with all light blocked off by opaque material during the remaining hours. They will record differences observable in the color of the water as greener water will indicate more growth. Photos or video may be taken to keep track of color changes. Students will then record their findings in a brief lab report. Growth of phytoplankton under different light conditions will be investigated. Depending on the latitude, there may be enough light for the microscopic plants to grow in the winter; they only need about four hours of daylight. The amount of light that the plants receive depends on the amount of light reaching the liquid water and the mixed layer depth, or how well the top layer of the ocean is mixed based on the effects of weather and sea-ice cover.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Intermediate (3-5)
  • Middle (6-8)
  • High (9-12)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Lab activity
Subject:
  • Ocean Sciences:
    • Biological oceanography
Technical requirements:
No specific technical requirements, just a browser required
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Copyright 1996 Passport to Knowledge. All Rights Reserved.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-007-273
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • K-4:
      • A - Science as inquiry:
        • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
      • C - Life science:
        • Organisms and environments
    • 5-8:
      • A - Science as inquiry:
        • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
      • C - Life science:
        • Population and ecosystems
        • Regulation and behavior
    • 9-12:
      • A - Science as inquiry:
        • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
      • C - Life science:
        • Matter, energy, and organization in living systems
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Quest