A program of the Lawrence Hall of Science that seeks to increase ocean literacy through informal and formal education initiatives

Marine Activities, Resources & Education

Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequences

Funded by NOAA, the Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequences are in-depth, kit-based curriculum units that deliver rich science content correlated to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), with an emphasis on the Practices of Science as called for in NGSS and the Framework for Science Education K–12, and significant overlap with the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts. The curriculum provides numerous opportunities for students to engage in investigations and make evidence-based explanations. They are designed in accordance with the latest research on learning and were classroom-tested by teachers across the United States in a wide variety of settings. Information about additional curriculum sequences can be found at http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/gems/CurriculumSequences.htm.

Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence for Grades 3-5

ocean sciences sequence grade 3 to 5 curriculum jacket cover


Overview of Curriculum

Correlations to the Next Generation Science Standards


Download a Curriculum Sampler




Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence for Grades 6-8


Introduction Guide Cover

Overview of Curriculum

Correlations to the Next Generation Science Standards


Download a Curriculum Sampler

Curriculum Assessment System: Description, Purpose, and Design.


Professional Development Workshop

Attend a professional development workshop on the Ocean Sciences Sequence for Grades 6-8 this summer at the Lawrence Hall of Science! Find out more about the workshop, or register to attend.

Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence for Grades 3–5

The Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence for Grades 3–5 contains three thematic units based on the Ocean Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts as well as the Ocean Literacy Scope & Sequence for Grades K–12. Each unit may be taught independently or as a progression of all three units and is appropriate for all three grades. The Grades 3–5 Sequence engages students in exploring ocean currents, features of the ocean floor, ocean habitats, ocean organism diversity, ocean food webs, adaptations to the ocean environment, and human interconnections with the ocean including exploration, technology, pollution and solutions. This upper elementary curriculum prepares students to understand the climate ocean connection and climate change curriculum they will be exposed to in middle school.

  • Unit 1: What kind of place is the ocean? covers Earth and physical science themes about the ocean as a physical space with unique characteristics (e.g., features of the ocean floor; properties of ocean water such as salinity, temperature, and pressure; and ocean currents).
  • Unit 2: What is life like in the ocean? covers life science themes, with a specific focus on food webs, habitats, and adaptations.
  • Unit 3: How are humans and the ocean interconnected? covers life science and environmental science themes, with a specific focus on how humans use the ocean, pollution, fisheries, and how people can help care for life in the ocean.

The Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence for Grades 3-5 is available for purchase at Carolina Biological

Corrected Copymaster pages for Session 1.5

Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence for Grades 6–8: The Ocean–Atmosphere Connection and Climate Change

Climate change is arguably the defining environmental issue of our generation. It is thus increasingly necessary for every member of the global community to understand the basic underlying science of Earth’s climate system and how it is changing in order to make informed, evidence-based decisions about how we will respond individually and as a society. After exploring the inextricable interconnection between Earth’s ocean, atmosphere and climate, students will be better prepared to tackle the complex issues surrounding the causes and effects of climate change and evaluate some possible solutions. You can access online interactives and other resources on climate change that accompany the curriculum through this site.  The Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence for Grades 6–8 is available for purchase at Carolina Biological

  • Unit 1: How do the ocean and atmosphere interact?

The ocean and atmosphere are closely interconnected through major Earth systems such as ocean and air currents, climate and weather patterns, the water cycle, and the flow and exchange of heat energy around the planet. In this unit, students learn about these connections through the lens of what sets water and air currents in motion, and how what happens in the ocean affects the atmosphere and vice versa. Students have many opportunities to delve into density - both as an observable phenomenon and on the molecular level. Students come to an understanding of how density relates to movement of water, air, and heat on Earth. Thermal expansion and the concept that water is a heat reservoir are also explored in relation to the ocean-atmosphere system.

  • Unit 2: How does carbon flow through the ocean, land, and atmosphere?

An understanding of how carbon flows between carbon reservoirs in Earth's systems is crucial to understanding climate change, yet unfortunately, is often lacking among those debating this important issue. In this unit, students learn about how carbon flows from animals into the atmosphere through respiration, from the atmosphere into plants through photosynthesis, from the atmosphere into the ocean through absorption, into fossil fuels and sediments through decay, and from fossil fuels into the atmosphere through combustion. They learn that the flow of carbon into the atmosphere has been increasing in recent decades through the burning of fossil fuels, causing an imbalance in the carbon cycle. They also learn how this increase of carbon in the atmosphere has led to an increase of carbon dioxide in oceans, causing ocean acidification, and affecting ocean life.

  • Unit 3: What are the causes and effects of climate change?

In this unit students explore the causes and effects of climate change as well as possible solutions. Through investigations of topics such as the greenhouse effect, melting glaciers and sea ice, sea level rise, human contributions to rising atmospheric CO2 levels, effects on organisms, and ocean-atmosphere connections, students gain an understanding of the underlying causes of climate change and how pervasive its effects are on the Earth system as a whole. In the last few sessions students revisit the human contributions to climate change and the carbon cycle they learned about in Unit 2 in order to brainstorm, learn about, and communicate with others about personal, local, and global solutions and adaptations to climate change.