Laura Rose, Virginia Sea Grant, Virginia Institute of Marine Science
To ride its waves, dive its depths, sample its contents, and measure its movements, the ocean invites them all - chemists, biologists, physicists, geologists. To comprehend the system as a whole, scientists must cross the boundaries of disciplines. This month we are focusing on a unique resource which has gone beyond the typical boundaries of both science and education. On the Classroom BATS web site, you will find both data and lesson plans presented in a groundbreaking way. The creators of Classroom BATS are obviously accustomed to thinking in a holistic manner.
Classroom BATS takes its name from the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study, a long-term program of the Bermuda Biological Station for Research (BBSR). Scientists in this program set sail every month to study the chemical, physical, and biological properties of the ocean near Bermuda, with a focus on the ocean's role in global environmental change. The data collected by BATS scientists represent the world's longest continuous time series of open-ocean measurements.
The goal of Classroom BATS is to create an on-line learning environment that allows science teachers to use real ocean data to conduct inquiry-based learning in their grade 6-12 classrooms. The lesson plans are all correlated to National Science Education Standards.
Begin with an introduction to ocean properties, which gives you background on the importance of the parameters on which data are collected. Gain an understanding of expected trends, how they're interrelated, and why they are of interest to us. How does temperature influence density? How does oxygen vary with depth? How does phytoplankton abundance influence the uptake of carbon dioxide in the ocean?
Through analysis of the BATS data, you will be able to observe these principles at work. Go to the Toolbox to download the OceanExplorer workbook. This is a unique package which contains both the data and the tools to conduct analysis. You will want to spend a little bit of time familiarizing yourself with it before introducing it to your students. User support is provided within the workbook itself. Use the Lesson Plans to guide you in your exploration of the data. Learn how changes in temperature and pressure affect the speed of sound in the ocean. Test your hypotheses on the relationship of water temperature and gas concentration by graphing and analyzing BATS temperature and carbon dioxide data. After exploring the lesson plans, use your creativity to investigate further. Perhaps you can contribute your conclusions on what the BATS data tell us. You may also want to consider what the BATS data don't tell us by pondering some unanswered questions.
If you wish, you may sign up to be notified of upcoming distance learning courses which will help you maximize your participation in the Classroom BATS project. We hope you enjoy exploring the entire Classroom BATS site. We feel that it is a wonderful example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.