Saturday, January 7, 2012

Oceanography Questions

Image Credit: Pics4Learning

I frame our science learning in terms of questions—learning goals, laboratory research questions, daily warm-up questions, one-on-one student conversations, etc. Questions stimulate thinking and conversation; the more questions, the better. I am famously known for never giving students "the right answer," but always asking them that one additional question. Of course, my favorite question is, "Why?"  :)

Throughout the school year, I will share some of the questions we ponder as we engage in the process of science. Here is a sampling of some of the "big idea" questions that I pose during our study of physical oceanography:

Water Cycle
  • How is water distributed on planet Earth?
  • How does water cycle through the Earth system?

Ocean Structure and Composition
  • What are the structures and physical characteristics of Earth's oceans?
  • How far does each ocean zone extend?
  • What are the temperatures like in each ocean zone?
  • How does color change as you descend deeper in the ocean?
  • How far below the surface does light penetrate?
  • How does pressure change with ocean depth?
  • How do scientists create maps of the ocean floor?
  • What is the composition of ocean water?
  • What is the average salinity of the world's oceans?
  • What are the factors that cause changes in salinity?
  • How do scientists measure salinity?
  • What factors affect the density of ocean water?

Ocean Circulation
  • How does density affect ocean circulation?
  • How and why does ocean water circulate?
  • How do scientists measure ocean circulation?
  • What types of ocean waves occur?
  • What are the causes of different types of ocean waves?
  • How do tsunami waves form?
  • How do scientists track tsunami waves and inform the public?
  • How do tidal waves work?

For more information about effective questioning:
Ivan Hannel, Insufficient Questioning, Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 91, No. 3, November 2009, pp. 65-69. In this article, author Ivan Hannel discusses how highly effective questioning can keep students interested and improve their learning.

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