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Ocean Temperatures
In this lesson students discover that measurements from space can tell us the temperature of the ocean, both on an annual average and as measured on any given date. For the annual average the highest ocean temperatures are near the equator, and drop as one moves either northward or southward from the equator. Students will graph each temperature value as a function of latitude and write a linear equation that best fits the points on their graph. They can choose as data points any point at that approximate latitude because the temperature is not uniform for a certain latitude - some areas are hotter and some are cooler. They can also look at today's ocean temperatures via the link provided to see how the seasons affect whether the northern or southern oceans are warmer. Students will take ocean temperature data from a map and plot temperature versus angle from the equator.
Intended for grade levels:
  • Middle (6-8)
Type of resource:
  • For the classroom:
    • Classroom activity
  • Climatology
  • Ocean Sciences:
    • Physical oceanography
  • Technology
Technical requirements:
Adobe Acrobat reader
Cost / Copyright:
No cost
Activities are Copyright Rice University, however may be freely copied for educational use so long as headers are not changed. Teachers are encouraged to register using the registration facility so that they receive notices of new activities, etc.
DLESE Catalog ID: DLESE-000-000-007-779
Educational standards:
  • National Science Education Standards (NSES):
    • 5-8:
      • Unifying concepts and processes:
        • Evidence, models, and explanation
      • A - Science as inquiry:
        • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
        • Understanding about scientific inquiry
      • B - Physical science:
        • Transfer of energy
  • National Geography Standards:
    • The world in spatial terms:
      • How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information
Resource contact / Creator / Publisher:
Publisher: Rice University, Museums Teaching Planet Earth