Eighth Grade Oceanography

Oceanography is one of those blocks that I think makes perfect sense for eighth grade – if we are going to study meteorology in eighth grade, why not oceanography?Seeing the large picture, from the heavens to the depths of the sea is awe-inspiring for me as a teacher and for my students.    It goes well with physics, earth science, chemistry, biology, and even geography and history.  I love marine biology in particular, and live in a coastal state, so this one makes perfect sense to me!  Meteorology and oceanography usually re-appear in the Grade 10 high school curriculum of many Waldorf Schools.

The first time I went through eighth grade I did oceanography and meteorology together.  This time around I am doing physics and meteorology together and running oceanography as a separate two-week block.

The main resources I use to put together this block includes the following:

  • Oceanography: An Invitation to Marine Science by Garrison (used college textbook)
  • Explore The Southeast National Marine Sanctuaries with Jean-Michel Cousteau
  • Oceans for Every Kid by Janice VanCleave (I don’t really love her work but sometimes find a gem)
  • Marine Biology:  Cool Women Who Dive by Karen Bush Gibson
  • Down Down Down:  A Journey To The Bottom of the Sea by Steve Jenkins
  • Journey Into The Deep: Discovering New Ocean Creatures by Rebecca Johnson
  • Stories of William Beede, Sylvia Earle, Eugenie Clark, Jacques Cousteau
  • Hydraulics and Aeromechanics by Mikko Bojarsky (Waldorf book available through Waldorf Books or Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore)

My basic outline (and we cover a lot of ground in two weeks!):

Day One:  Review the Water Cycle/What Is An Ocean?/Interesting Ocean Facts/Explorers of the Oceans (Phoenicians through James Cook) – Question to leave student with:  Why are the deepest parts of the oceans not in the centers?

Day Two:  Review/To Understand the Oceans We Have to Understand Plate Tectonics/Biography of Marie Tharp/ Question:  is the motion in the ocean caused only by ocean currents?/

Day Three:  Review/Lab on Ocean Currents and Fluid Mechanics – biography of Kakani Katija (see National Geographic)/ Edward Forbes/Ocean Zones Introduction – Question: How much of the ocean has been explored?

Day Four:  Review/ The HMS Challenger/ Barton and Beede’s Bathysphere (library books and Bojarsky’s book)/ Aqualung to SCUBA/Remotely Operated Vehicles/Different jobs in Marine Science – biography Ashanti Johnson

Week Two:

Day One and Two:  Review/ Zones in Detail -sunlit zone, twilight zone, dark zone, abyssal plain, trenches – what lives there?  chemosynthesis, cold seeps, brine pools, methane freezes, deep sea coral gardens in the dark depths, whale falls – biography Lauren Mullineaux (see Oceanus magazine)

Day Three and Four:  Review/Census of Marine Life 2000-2010 /what did we find?/Biography of Natalie Arnoldi/ Climate change and the ocean (which we will follow up in our Climate Change/Sustainability block a few months later)

I essentially go through this outline and write a presentation for each day and decide on labs.  I usually think of review and artistic activities in the weeks preceeding the block.

Oceanography is always so fun to explore and great to tie in field trips if you live near or can get to a coastal area!

Happy adventuring,






7 thoughts on “Eighth Grade Oceanography

    • Hi there! I think it took me about 6-8 hours to do the reading and lay out the flow of the block, which is what you see here. A few weeks before this block, leading up to it, I will plan the review and artistic activities, and each night of the block I will plan the academic output I would like to see. Hope that helps,Carrie

  1. Thank you for your detailed sharing, Carrie! I have a rising 8th grader and while I haven’t planned an oceanography block, I really should, because we live on the coast. You have my brain rolling about how I can effectively blend some of the core science components we are trying to catch up on, and bring what we need in a unique and local way.

    • That sounds awesome, Nicola! I just love oceanography and marine biology, so I had to throw it in! ❤ Would love to hear what blocks you have planned. Eighth grade can have such an individuality to it, I think!
      Blessings, Carrie

  2. Hi Carrie,
    What are “labs”.
    If its laboratory work, could you give us some idea of what you are thinking? Do you have access to a laboratory (which would seem to be an engineering sort of test lab?) Or are you going to set up.something at home?
    This sort of prep can take hours/ days/ weeks to set up a water flow test lab, and the maths for water flow dynamics are way above 8th grade, so im sure im missing something!

    Thank you so much for this idea. We are also at the coast, so interested.

    • hi Carol! No, of course nothing like that for middle school or in the home environment. The Janice Van Cleave book is pretty much all hands on activities and I have another spiral bound college book that I didn’t list in this post that the title is escaping me that is essentially all labs but not difficult ones to set up. No math involved for these labs. I think what you is describing is stuff we did in college physics? Are you an oceanographer or marine biologist? Thinking simply over here! Blessings, Carrie

  3. Pingback: Free Lesson Block Plans and Ideas Grades 7-9 | The Parenting Passageway

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