Authors: Zach Smith
Grade Level: 9-12
Subject Area: Earth and Space Science
Three 45-minute class periods.
The overall goal for this lesson is for students to chart a course between two places. They will have to consider tide, current, wind, and navigational hazards to take the most direct, safest, and most efficient route.
Students will be able to do the following.
Our marine transportation system includes 25,000 miles of navigable channels transited by more than two billion tons of freight each year. Waterborne cargo contributes more than $742 billion to the nation's economy and creates jobs for more than 13 million people in our country.
The connection between the system and coastal communities and maritime industries is probably pretty obvious. In 2009, the U.S. exported more than $100 billion worth of agricultural products. Whether it is wheat grown in Stanley, North Dakota, or cotton produced in Pinal County, Arizona, rural communities and family farms need efficient maritime highways to move their product to overseas markets.
There are a number of key research areas that help mariners chart the course of their every voyage. NOAA tools – such as nautical charts, accurate positioning services, and ocean and weather observations – play a key role in ensuring that shipments move swiftly and safely along our marine highways.
Keeping our marine transportation system functioning in a way that is safe, efficient, and environmentally sound requires information about water depth, the shape of the sea floor and coastline, the location of possible obstructions, and other physical features of water bodies. Hydrography is the science behind this information, and surveying is a primary method of obtaining hydrographic data.
Tides and Currents
We need accurate tide and current data to aid in navigation, but these measurements also play an important role in keeping people and the environment safe. A change in water level (due to tides) can leave someone stranded (or flooded). And knowing how fast water is moving—and in what direction—is important for anyone involved in water-related activities. Predicting and measuring tides and currents is important for things like getting cargo ships safely into and out of ports, determining the extent of an oil spill, building bridges and piers, determining the best fishing spots, emergency preparedness, tsunami tracking, marsh restoration, and much more.
Aerial Photography-Shoreline Mapping
The best way to monitor the approximately 95,000 miles of U.S. coastline is from a bird’s eye view. Since the early 1900s, NOAA's National Geodetic Survey has been doing that—taking photographs from airplanes to capture the Earth below. Today, the capture of these aerial photographs is controlled by Global Positioning System techniques and the photos are used to define the national shoreline, create maps and charts, and monitor environmental change. Global Positioning is fundamental to navigation, communication systems, mapping and charting, and much more. NOAA's National Geodetic Survey is responsible for the development and maintenance of the National Spatial Reference System, a national coordinate system that allows surveyors and others to accurately position points of interest and ensure that their coordinates match up with those determined by others.
Sea level rise, subsidence, earthquakes, and even oil and gas extraction, can all cause the elevation of an area to change. State and local governments can spend tens of millions of dollars each year adjusting engineering projects such as roads and buildings that are affected by these shifting surfaces. Enter the need to determine elevations better, faster, and cheaper—and enter Height Modernization.
Students will use nowCOAST, NOAA Ocean Service, GPS, Marine Charts, marine hazards maps, tides and currents ( http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/gmap3), Marine weather (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/marine_map.htm>), bathymetric maps, and NOAA marine charts available on Google Earth to chart the best course for their vessel.
To open the NOAA charts in Google Earth, go to the Google Earth maps and on the left hand side of the actual map there is a tool bar for which items you would like to see on your Google maps. Near the bottom of this tool bar is "layers" and to the right of it is an option to go to Earth Gallery. Go there and type NOAA in the search, click on EarthNC NOAA and click to open it in Google Earth. Then as you move through Google Earth maps there will be little gray boxes with red ' and other symbols that when click will display NOAA charts with all the important symbols needed for navigations through shipping channel and around hazards.
Students need to include information about air gap and marine hazards Evaluation will be given on the following criteria:
***Depending on your students, this activity can be tailored by starting with charting and navigating a course in a small craft on a course between two locations that are close by with few marine hazards. Most of the difficulty is experienced in near shore environments by human-made structures. Navigation in the open ocean is relatively straight-forward and impacted largely by currents, wind, and severe weather. We suggest that you provide students with a short list of predetermined locations to navigate between, ones in which you have already researched ahead of time. As with land based topographic maps, marine charts include some information that may be extraneous to your student's needs to navigating a course. The most important chart data to consider are water depths, tides, current, and basic hazards. Much of this also depends on the type of vessel they choose to operate. A Navy destroyer, fuel tanker, and sport fishing boat all have very different requirements. A 300' long fuel tanker takes extra time and space to turn and maneuver and needs to be very aware of water depth and air gap, but a sport boat can turn quickly to avoid hazards, drafts (portion of the boat under the water) only a few feet, and is unaffected by the height of most few bridges. An ideal starting activity would be to begin with a small pleasure craft traveling between two coastal locations. For more understanding of geopositioning and navigating using marine charts also have students use Plot your Course: Nautical Charts and Marine Navigation https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/lessons/plot_course.html The add marine the use of tides and currents as well as additional marine hazards such as air gap on bridges.
Students will plot a safe voyage from one location to the next, justifying their chosen route as determined by all available information. Students will also take a short quiz. Grading Criteria (suggested):
This activity could be assessed using standard question -answers for vocabulary, navigation concepts, and symbols, but it would more appropriately be assessed by a more authentic means by having students present their experiences in navigating up a major shipping river.
Students can create poems, tales or images that share their thoughts, feelings and visions about their voyage and the history of marine travel.
Computer with Internet Access Interactive White Board (if available)
Lesson Plan File:
(entire word document containing complete lesson plan and supporting attachments)
Download Here (pdf, 174)
Student Work Description:
Photograph of students working on the "Charting a Course" lesson.
Sample of Student Work: