Week 1:Intro to Oceanography-tides, waves, and currents

Week 1: Intro to Oceanography/Tides, waves, and currents

(Before you begin, note on your syllabus that you have a shell collection due right before Christmas break. Start collecting and identifying shells now, and continue to do so as the weeks progress. Keep your eyes open for nice shells every time you visit the water. Don’t leave this for the last minute! Please do NOT collect shells from any living creature (snail or hermit crab). If you find a particularly nice shell and it is still alive, take a picture of it and let it go.)

1.) Read Seaside Naturalist chp 1. Copy and label wave diagram (p5) and ocean zonation diagram (p6) into your notebook. Add a summary paragraph to each.  Print up a blank world map, sketch in and label the major currents. Add the map to your notebook.

2.) Visit website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/fun/highseas_flash.html and go through the animation. Answer the following questions in your notebook:

  • What determines the size of a wave?
  • What causes a wave to “break?”

3.) Design an experimental method for measuring the wavelength, wave height, and period of waves at the nearest body of water.  Perform the experiment. Write up your materials, methods, and results in your notebook.

4.) Visit the following website: ONR Tides-characteristics and read the information, watch the animation, and take the quiz  just for fun (follow the arrows at the bottom of the page.) How did you do?

5.) Obtain a current tide table for your local water body. Attach it into your notebook, and  answer the following questions:

  • What times  are the highs and lows for today?
  • Why are there two high tides and two low tides each day?
  • By how much time do the tides change each day and why?

6.) Go to a local sea wall or beach and measure the height of water at  both high or both low tides for a single day. Are they the same? If not, then how do they differ and why? Write up your materials, methods, results  and discussion in your notebook.



  1. Theresa , Thank you for all the work you have done and are continuing to do !

  2. I’m loving all your details here 🙂

  3. Hi Theresa,
    I recieved The Seaside Naturalist- what a great book. Perfect for my hands on daughter who will be doing the course. We are set to begin in September. Have to print off the plans now that my printer is up and running!!


  4. Hmmm, could we do the wave stuff for this week at Lake Winnipeg?


    • I don’t see why not! Have fun and let us know how it goes!

  5. I should get out there soon then. Winter comes quickly and thoroughly out here…


  6. Would you recommend this for a 12 yo, or is it for high school students?

    Is there a list of required resources (books)?

  7. Aw, this was a very nice post. Spending some time and actual
    effort to generate a really good article… but what can
    I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don’t manage to get nearly anything done.

  8. Do you happen to know where the link for the currents moved to? I have been searching the site but cant find it.

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