Introduction to Human Interactions with the Ocean

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ESS2: Earthʻs Systems
How and why is Earth Constantly Changing?

ESS2.A: Earth Materials and Systems: How do Earthʻs major systems interact?

Learning goals by the end of grade 5: Earth’s major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth’s surface materials and processes. The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate. Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the landforms to determine patterns of weather. Rainfall helps shape the land and affects the types of living things found in a region. Water, ice, wind, living organisms, and gravity break rocks, soils, and sediments into smaller particles and move them around. Human activities affect Earth’s systems and their interactions at its surface.

ESS3: Earth and Human Activity:
How do Earth's surface processes and human activities affect each other?

ESS3.A Natural Resources: How do humans depend on Earth’s resources?

Learning goals by the end of grade 5: All materials, energy, and fuels that humans use are derived from natural sources, and their use affects the environment in multiple ways. Some resources are renewable over time, and others are not.

ESS3.C Human Impacts on Earth Systems: How do humans change the planet?

Learning goals by the end of grade 5: Human activities in agriculture, industry, and everyday life have had major effects on the land, vegetation, streams, ocean, air, and even outer space. But individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments. For example, they are treating sewage, reducing the amounts of materials they use, and regulating sources of pollution such as emissions from factories and power plants or the runoff from agricultural activities.

ESS3.D Global Climate Change: How do people model and predict the effects of human activities on Earth’s Climate?

Learning goals by the end of grade 5: If Earth’s global mean temperature continues to rise, the lives of humans and other organisms will be affected in many different ways.

Ocean Literacy Principles

Principle 1: The Earth has one big ocean with many features.

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Sea level is the average height of the ocean relative to the land, taking into account the differences caused by tides. Sea level changes as plate tectonics cause the volume of ocean basins and the height of the land to change. It changes as ice caps on land melt or grow. It also changes as seawater expands and contracts when ocean water warms and cools. (OLP1d)

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Although the ocean is large, it is finite, and its resources are limited.

Principle 6: The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: The ocean provides food, medicines, and mineral and energy resources. It supports jobs and national economies, serves as a highway for transportation of goods and people, and plays a role in national security. (OLP6b)

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: The ocean is a source of inspiration, recreation, rejuvenation, and discovery. It is also an important element in the heritage of many cultures. (OLP 6c)

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Humans affect the ocean in a variety of ways. Laws, regulations, and resource management affect what is taken out and put into the ocean. Human development and activity leads to pollution (point source, non- point source, and noise pollution), changes to ocean chemistry (ocean acidification), and physical modifications (changes to beaches, shores, and rivers). In addition, humans have removed most of the large vertebrates from the ocean. (OLP 6d)

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Much of the world’s population lives in coastal areas. Coastal regions are susceptible to natural hazards (tsunamis, hurricanes, cyclones, sea level change, and storm surges). (OLP 6f)

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Everyone is responsible for caring for the ocean. The ocean sustains life on Earth and humans must live in ways that sustain the ocean. Individual and collective actions are needed to effectively manage ocean resources for all. (OLP 6g)

Principle 7: The ocean is largely unexplored.

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concept: Over the last 50 years, use of ocean resources has increased significantly; the future sustainability of ocean resources depends on our understanding of those resources and their potential. (OLP7c)


These concepts will be explored in this unit through the following activities and investigations:



Build your own island to investigate how the melting of glaciers and icebergs will affect sea level.





Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawai?i, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.