Ocean Tracks: Investigating Marine Migrations in a Changing Ocean
Abstract:The availability of scientific data sets online opens up exciting new opportunities to raise students’ understanding of the worlds’ oceans and the potential impacts of climate change. The Oceans of Data Institute at EDC; Stanford University; and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have been collaborating, with the support of three National Science Foundation grants over the past 5 years, to bring marine science data sets into high school and undergraduate classrooms. These efforts have culminated in the development of a web-based student interface to data from the Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) program, NOAA’s Global Drifter Program, and NASA Earth-orbiting satellites through a student-friendly Web interface, customized data analysis tools, multimedia supports, and course modules. Ocean Tracks (http://oceantracks.org), which incorporates design principles based on a broad range of research findings in fields such as cognitive science, visual design, mathematics education and learning science, focuses on optimizing students’ opportunities to focus their cognitive resources on viewing and comparing data to test hypotheses, while minimizing the time spent on downloading, filtering and creating displays.
Ocean Tracks allows students to display the tracks of elephant seals, white sharks, Bluefin tuna, albatross, and drifting buoys along with sea surface temperature, chlorophyll-A, bathymetry, ocean currents, and human impacts overlays. A graphing tool allows students to dynamically display parameters associated with the track such as speed, deepest daily dive and track tortuosity (curviness). These interface features allow students to engage in investigations that mirror those currently being conducted by scientists to understand the broad-scale effects of changes in climate and other human activities on ocean ecosystems. In addition to supporting the teaching of the Ocean and Climate Literacy principles, high school curriculum modules facilitate the teaching of content, practices and cross-cutting concepts in the Framework for K-12 Science Education. Undergraduate modules currently under development support the teaching of content related to marine productivity, ocean circulation and upwelling, animal-environment interactions, ocean ecosystems, and human impacts.