Back to School Marine Science Activities

By Shelley Brown

Many students are heading back to school, but amid the pandemic learning may look quite different this year for children, parents and teachers. Families may be homeschooling, distance learning, heading to the classroom or a implementing a combination of teaching strategies.

To supplement STEM curriculum, Sailors for the Sea Powered by Oceana developed the Kids Environmental Lesson Plans (KELP) program, which features free, downloadable, educational activities that teach students the importance of preserving healthy and abundant oceans. The lessons require minimal preparation and simple materials that you can find at home or in a grocery store. Check out some of our favorite KELP activities that can be carried out in a socially distant manner.

1. Mimic a shark’s sixth sense using magnets

Sharks have the ability to detect electricity with specialized gel-filled pores found in their snouts, called ampullae of Lorenzini. With this activity, kids can use magnets to mimic how hammerhead sharks use this sensory system to find their favorite prey, stingrays, hiding in the sand.

2. Build a coral reef with food

Corals are living marine animals, which typically live in compact colonies of many identical, individual polyps. With different food items, kids will learn about the anatomy of a coral and the unique symbiotic relationship between corals and zooxanthellae by building an edible coral polyp.

3. Use your breath and red cabbage to learn about ocean acidification

Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide can cause a change in the chemistry of the ocean. The ocean absorbs about a quarter of the carbon dioxide humans release into the atmosphere every year, and this additional carbon dioxide in seawater is causing the ocean to become more acidic. In this fun, science activity, kids can use their own exhaled breath and a red cabbage pH indicator to see how our oceans are becoming more acidic.

The KELP program consists of fifty activities which address a variety of ocean topics that are suited for ages 6 to 16. Download all of the KELP marine science activities here.

You can also help students become experts on their favorite sea creature. From sea turtles and sharks to octopus and corals, kids can dive deep into life under our oceans with Oceana’s Marine Life Encyclopedia and learn fun facts about hundreds of marine animals and ecosystems.