About This Site

Using Phenomena to Explore Principles

Sea-Earth-Atmosphere (SEA) is based on the NOAA SEA Curriculum. Materials in this website are aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Ocean Literacy Principles (OLP). In selecting and developing content and activities, we emphasize NGSS standards for which understanding ocean concepts is essential to understanding the standard. We also choose NGSS standards where the ocean provides a good example. (see NGSS correlations to OLP in Strang et al., 2015.)


This curriculum is designed to teach students how scientific principles explain phenomena, not to solely explain the single phenomena. Each activity begins with an investigation of a natural phenomena with the goal of uncovering the scientific concepts that explain that event. We invite you to explore or add your own phenomena that is meaningful to you and your students.


The SEA curriuclar materials have explicit connections to traditional ecological knowledge and indigenous ways of knowing, focused on the Pacific and Hawai'i. There are also connections to help students learn about and make connections to the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS).


SEA Organization

  • SEA is organized into three grade levels: 3, 4, and 5.
  • Within each grade, there are three units: Earth and Space Science, Life Science, and Physical Science. 
  • Each unit begins with an introduction, which describes the relevant NGSS standards and connects them to the Ocean Literacy Principles.
  • The content chapters are written at a teacher level; they are intended to provide background content .
  • Each content chapter has at least one activity, designed for students.
  • The Standards Alignment module facilitates searching by standard (NGSS or OLP).


Educator Community

The SEA community allows educators to share material and comment on content and activities. Please join the community and share your ideas with us!


Extended Content

Extensive content and activities in Physical, Chemical, and Biological connections to aquatic science can be found on the related Exploring Our Fluid Earth curriculum website. This site is aligned to grade 6-12 NGSS standards. The site is also a well-researched repository of background information. And, many of the activity ideas can be modified for other grade levels or audiences.

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.