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Activity: Locate Ocean Basins and Continents
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts

Check your knowledge of ocean basins and continents by locating and labeling them on a world map.

  • Fig. 1.4
  • Pencil 
  • Crayons or colored pencils
  • Tables 1.1 and 1.2
  • Globe or map of the earth 
  1. On a printed copy of Fig. 1.4, use a pencil to locate and label the major ocean basins and continents. Do not refer to a globe or another map. Draw in the boundaries of the major ocean basins and continents.
  2. Compare your map to a classmate’s map. Discuss the reasoning for each of your labeling decisions. If your maps are different, come to an agreement on how to label and draw the boundaries of the continents and ocean basins.
  3. Look at Tables 1.1 and 1.2 and correct your map based on these conventional ocean basin and continent boundaries.
  4. If needed, refer to a globe or map of the earth to check your answers. 
  5. Color-code your corrected map to clearly show the conventional boundaries of ocean basins and continents. Attach a legend to the map indicating how you used each color. 
Activity Questions
  1. Why do you think the world ocean has traditionally been divided into ocean basins? Do you think dividing up the ocean this way is beneficial? Why or why not?
  2. Describe the general shape of each ocean basin. Record major land or water features to the north, south, east, and west of each one. Refer to a globe or map.
  3. The Atlantic and Pacific ocean basins are often divided by the equator into the North Atlantic and South Atlantic and North Pacific and South Pacific ocean basins. What other boundaries might further subdivide the ocean?
  4. A globe is a three-dimensional model of the earth, and a map is a two-dimensional representation of the earth. Explain the difference between two-dimensional and three-dimensional views of objects. Draw an object to illustrate your answer. 
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.