Whats In That Cake

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					                       2004 Estuaries to the Abyss Expedition

                         What’s In That Cake?

FOCUS                                                       ❑   Piece of cardboard or foamcore, approximately
  Exploration of deep-sea habitats                               30 cm x 50 cm with a 3 cm x 22 cm “win-
                                                                 dow” cut out of the center, one for each student
GRADE LEVEL                                                      group
  5-6 (Life Science)                                        ❑   Large-diameter drinking straw (6mm or more),
                                                                 one for each student group
FOCUS QUESTIONS                                             ❑   Tweezers, one for each student group
  How can scientists study organisms in deep-sea
  habitats on the Charleston Bump?                          AUDIO/VISUAL MATERIALS
  Students will be able to explain what a habitat is,       TEACHING TIME
  and describe at least three functions or benefits           Two or three 45-minute class periods, plus time
  that habitats provide.                                      for student research

  Students will be able to describe some habitats           SEATING ARRANGEMENT
  that are typical of the Charleston Bump.                    Classroom style

  Students will be able to describe and discuss at          MAXIMUM NUMBER OF STUDENTS
  least three difficulties involved in studying deep-         30
  sea habitats.
                                                            KEY WORDS
  Students will be able to describe and explain               Charleston Bump
  at least three techniques scientists use to sample          Blake Plateau
  habitats such as those found on the Charleston              Charleston Gyre
  Bump.                                                       Precipitation
❑   At least two cakes or one cake for each student         BACKGROUND INFORMATION
     group, approximately 22 cm square or round               The Blake Plateau is a large sediment deposit
❑   Icing in various colors                                   located on the continental slope of the United
❑   Candies or other edible materials for modeling            States off the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South
     habitat features                                         Carolina, and North Carolina. Depths on the
❑   Cardboard boxes large enough to cover cakes,              plateau range from 400 to 1250 meters. On
     one for each cake
2004 Estuaries to the Abyss Expedition – Grades 5-6 (Life Science)
Focus: Exploration of deep-sea habitats                                                                   

           the eastern edge of the Plateau, the Blake Ridge                         mercial fishing for many years, the ecology of the
           extends in a direction roughly perpendicular to                          Bump was not studied until very recently. Prior to
           the continental rise for more than 500 km to the                         these studies, it was generally assumed that fisher-
           southwest. To the east of the Ridge, water depths                        ies were the result of migrations from other areas
           increase sharply to more than 4,000 m. The                               and/or nutrients carried in from deeper or coastal
           Blake Ridge has been extensively studied over                            waters. And although no one had actually looked
           the past 30 years because of the large deposits                          at the surface of the Charleston Bump, it was
           of methane hydrate found in the area, (visit                             assumed that benthic communities were scattered
          and relatively unproductive. Once scientists actu-
           htm for more information about methane hydrates                          ally began exploring the area more thoroughly,
           and why they are important).                                             they found many diverse and thriving benthic
           About 130 km east of the Georgia-South
           Carolina coast, a series of rocky scarps, mounds,                        The 2001 “Islands in the Stream” and 2003
           overhangs, and flat pavements rise from more                             “Investigating the Charleston Bump” Ocean
           than 700 m at the surface of the Blake Plateau to                        Exploration expeditions found a series of very
           within 400 m of the sea surface. This hard-bottom                        complex habitats on the Charleston Bump with
           feature is known as the Charleston Bump.                                 numerous fishes and invertebrate species involved
                                                                                    in communities that we are just beginning to
           The Charleston Bump was first discovered in                              understand. Major habitat types include steep,
           the 1970’s when scientists noticed an eastward                           rocky slopes more than 25 m high; rock pave-
           deflection in the Gulf Stream off the coast of                           ments without attached growth; areas of live coral
           South Carolina. The cause of this deflection                             and sponges on hard bottom pavements or rocks;
           turned out to be the Charleston Bump, which                              broken pavement-rubble; low ledges, ridges, out-
           also produces wave-like oscillations that roll                           crops, and terraces; soft bottom (mud, silt, etc);
           northward toward Cape Hatteras. These waves                              coral mounds; and more extensive coral “fields.”
           produce another circulatory feature known as                             A key objective of the 2004 Estuary to the Abyss
           the Charleston Gyre. The Gyre is a reverse cir-                          Expedition is to identify organisms that live in
           culation that forms in the trough of the first wave                      these habitats, and begin to study the ecological
           downstream of the Charleston Bump, and resem-                            relationships between these organisms. A major
           bles the dangerous hydraulics that form beneath                          challenge for scientists is how to accurately sam-
           waterfalls and river rapids (see “Eddies, Gyres,                         ple these habitats given the constraints of a hos-
           and Drowning Machines” at http://oceanexplorer.noaa.                     tile environment, as well as the need to minimize
           gov/explorations/03bump/background/edu/edu.html for more                 damage to the habitats caused by sampling.
                                                                                    In this activity, students will create edible models
           In 1979, scientists correlated satellite observa-                        of Charleston Bump habitats, and devise ways to
           tions of the Gyre with measurements made from a                          study and sample these habitats under less-than-
           research ship that showed elevated phytoplankton                         ideal conditions.
           pigment concentrations within the Gyre, sug-
           gesting that this circulation was associated with                      LEARNING PROCEDURE
           upwelling currents that bring nutrients to the sur-                      [NOTE: Portions of this activity were adapted
           face and enhance phytoplankton growth. Despite                           from “Edible Devonian Marine Ecosystem”
           these observations, and even though waters over                          by Naturalists at Falls of the Ohio State Park,
           the Charleston Bump have been important to com-                          Clarksville, Indiana, on the Geologic and

                                                                              2004 Estuaries to the Abyss Expedition – Grades 5-6 (Life Science)                                                                                   Focus: Exploration of deep-sea habitats

  Paleontologic Cook Book website. Visit http://www/                             Tell students that one of the challenges faced by
  uky/edu/KGS/education/cookbook.html for more edible edu-                       scientists studying deep-sea communities is how
  cation ideas!]                                                                 to obtain information about the organisms living
                                                                                 in the habitats without destroying the habitats
 1. Prepare cakes and gather decorating materi-                                  or the scientists themselves. Point out that early
    als. You may want to have students volunteer                                 scientific expeditions used dredges or trawls to
    to bring their own cakes (be sure to specify the                             sample deepwater areas, but that these tech-
    size!). A standard box of cake mix will make                                 niques basically destroy whatever they sample.
    two 22 cm round or square cakes. If cakes are                                Being able to use deep-diving submersibles
    iced, the icing should be uniformly spread over                              to visit these communities in person has many
    the surface, and be a single color to provide a                              advantages, but also puts the scientists in
    “clean slate” for the students to work from.                                 greater danger from the extreme conditions in
                                                                                 the deep-sea environment. Ask students to list
 2. Review the location and significance of the                                  some of these dangers. Their list should include
    Charleston Bump and the 2001 and 2003                                        extreme pressure, low temperatures, and dark-
    Ocean Exploration Expeditions to the area. The                               ness.
    Web site for the 2001 Islands in the Stream
    expedition is:                   Tell students that they are going to simulate
    islands01/log/sab_summary/sab_summary.html; click on logs                    some of these challenges in their classroom,
    from September 27, 28, and 29. The Web site                                  and devise ways to study unfamiliar habitats
    for the 2003 Charleston Bump Expedition is:                                  under difficult conditions.; click
    on “Charleston Bump.” You may want to show                                3. The first task for exploring new environments is
    students some images from the oceanexplorer                                  to obtain a general idea of what types of habi-
    Web site and/or                      tats and organisms may be present. Tell student
    htm.                                                                         groups that they are to find out what sorts of
                                                                                 habitats and organisms the 2001 and 2003
     Discuss the concept of habitats. Have students                              Ocean Exploration Expeditions found on the
     brainstorm what functions or benefits an organ-                             Charleston Bump. Have students read relevant
     ism receives from its habitat. The students’ list                           trip logs from these expeditions at the Web
     should include food, shelter (protection), and                              sites listed above, and find pictures or illustra-
     appropriate nursery areas. Tell students that                               tions of these organisms. In addition to printed
     detailed surveys of the Charleston Bump are                                 reference books, the Ocean Explorer Gallery
     just beginning, but we can have a general                                   (, click on “Gallery”) and
     idea of what to expect based on explorations                       have lots of images suit-
     in other deep-water, hard-bottom habitats.                                  able for downloading.
     Explain the concept of “microhabitat.” Be sure
     students understand how the combination of                               4. Have each group present their research find-
     various rock formations and organisms with                                  ings. Discuss and list the types of habitats
     complex physical forms (like branching corals                               found on the Charleston Bump, and the kinds
     and sponges) can offer many different types of                              of organisms that may be found in these habi-
     habitat and as a result can provide food, shel-                             tats. Have students describe what functions or
     ter, and nursery space for many different kinds                             benefits organisms receive from each habitat
     of organisms.                                                               type. Be sure students understand that previous
                                                                                 expeditions have only identified a fraction of

2004 Estuaries to the Abyss Expedition – Grades 5-6 (Life Science)
Focus: Exploration of deep-sea habitats                                                     

             the organisms that are probably present, so                 State the following ground rules for sampling:
             their list should consider habitats that may not            • all samples must be collected from the deep-
             have been sampled as yet. The combined list of                diving submersible
             habitats should include:                                    • it is important to minimize damage to the
             • steep, rocky slopes more than 25 m high                     habitats being sampled
             • rock pavements                                            • it isn’t possible to sample every centimeter
             • live corals and sponges                                     of a habitat, so sampling must be distributed
             • broken pavement-rubble                                      over the entire study area
             • low ledges, ridges, outcrops, and terraces                • time is severely limited, so it is important to
             • soft bottom (mud, silt, etc.)                               get as much information as possible in a
             • coral mounds;                                               short amount of time
             • coral “fields.”
                                                                         Photographic and video recordings are one of
          5. Tell students that each group is going to con-              the most important sampling tools since they
             struct an edible model of some of the habitats              can cover large areas, cause no damage to the
             and organisms found on the Charleston Bump.                 habitats (although bright lights may cause tem-
             Their model should contain at least three habi-             porary or permanent blindness to light-sensitive
             tat types and at least one organism that uses               organisms), and provide a permanent record
             each of the three habitats. The base of the                 of observations that can be studied in greater
             model will be a cake. Have students brainstorm              detail when scientists return from their dives.
             what kinds of edible features can be added to
             the cake to make the habitat model. Mounds                  When sampling unexplored areas, scientists
             of icing can be used for boulders, and when                 often steer their submersible along a series of
             hardened can be sculpted to form caves and                  pre-determined paths called “transects” that
             overhangs. Sponges might be modeled with                    cover the entire area. For example, this would
             small pieces of sponge cake (of course), and                be like sampling a football field at night by
             strings of rock candy (made by hanging pieces               walking with a flashlight along every ten-yard
             of string in a saturated sugar solution) could              line; the entire field would be covered, but only
             represent branching corals. Of course, there                a small fraction would actually be seen. If a
             are many more possibilities, and your students              site has been previously visited, scientists may
             will probably have a pretty good idea of poten-             concentrate their sampling and observations on
             tial model elements.                                        features of particular interest.

             Each group should prepare a written record of               Samples of rocks and larger organisms such as
             the habitats modeled, the organisms included                corals and sponges can be collected with the
             for each habitat, and where the organisms are               submersible’s manipulator arm. Scoops, cores,
             located. Be sure each group keeps their work                and suction devices may also be used to sam-
             secret from the other groups. When models are               ple organisms living on living and non-living
             finished, they should be placed under a card-               surfaces, as well as organisms in soft bottom
             board box so they cannot be seen.                           habitats.

          6. Lead a discussion of techniques that could be               Be sure students realize that regardless of the
             used to sample organisms living in the eight                sampling techniques used, some organisms will
             major habitats found on the Charleston Bump.                almost certainly escape detection, particularly

                                                             2004 Estuaries to the Abyss Expedition – Grades 5-6 (Life Science)                                                                  Focus: Exploration of deep-sea habitats

    those able to move rapidly away from a source                description (red boulder, yellow gummy bear,
    of disturbance, such as fishes, squids, and                  etc).
    many burrowing animals.
                                                              8. Lead a discussion in which each group presents
 7. Tell students that their challenge is to sample an           their report, and compares their findings with
    unknown environment (cake) to determine the                  the records of the group that created the model.
    habitats and organisms present. Since we are                 Have students verify that no more than 5% of
    working with deep-sea environments, there will               the model has been damaged by the sampling
    be some constraints on the sampling:                         procedure. Discuss ways in which sampling
    • A total of two minutes will be allowed for the             could be improved. Have students compare
      entire sampling program.                                   and contrast their sampling techniques with
    • No more than 5% of the model may be dam-                   those actually used by scientists exploring the
      aged.                                                      Charleston Bump. Point out that it would have
    • Samples may only be taken through a “win-                  been even more realistic if the entire sampling
      dow” 3 cm wide.                                            process were done in total darkness with only a
    • No more than 5 windows can be sampled.                     small flashlight to guide the sampling effort.

    Provide each group with a pair of tweezers                   Following this discussion (and depending upon
    (simulating the submersible’s manipulator arm),              the condition of the cakes), invite students to
    a large-diameter drinking straw (simulating a                assume the role of top consumers and have a
    core sampler), and a piece of cardboard with                 direct interaction with their model environments
    a 3 cm x 23 cm slot (simulating the sampling                 (they can eat the cake).
    window). Have each group write down their
    sampling strategy, indicating which students             THE BRIDGE CONNECTION
    will be responsible for collecting each type of   – Click on “Ocean Science” in
    sample. One or two students may be assigned                the navigation menu to the left, then “Biology,”
    to record visual observations to simulate video            then “Invertebrates,” then “Other Inverts,” for
    recording.                                                 resources on corals and sponges. Click on
                                                               “Ecology” then “Deep Sea” for resources on deep
    Working with one group at a time, provide the              sea communities.
    group with an unknown cake. Signal the start
    of the two-minute sampling period, and allow             THE “ME” CONNECTION
    the group to begin their sampling program.                 Have students write a short essay on how explo-
    Be sure that no more than five windows are                 rations of areas like the Charleston Bump could
    sampled. Call out elapsed time every 15 sec-               be of direct benefit to their own lives.
    onds so that the group can pace their sampling
    activities.                                              CONNECTIONS TO OTHER SUBJECTS
                                                               English/Language Arts, Physical Science, Life
    When all groups have completed their sam-                  Science
    pling, have each group prepare a written
    report on the habitats and organisms discov-             EVALUATION
    ered in their model environment. Since they                Reports and records prepared in Steps 4, 5, and
    won’t know what the various modeling materi-               6 provide opportunities for assessment.
    als are supposed to represent, they will have
    to identify the various features sampled by a

2004 Estuaries to the Abyss Expedition – Grades 5-6 (Life Science)
Focus: Exploration of deep-sea habitats                                                                            

         EXTENSIONS                                                                     Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social
           1. Have students visit to find                     Perspectives
           out more about the 2004 Estuary to the Abyss                                     • Populations, resources, and environments
           Expedition and about opportunities for real-
           time interaction with scientists on current Ocean                            Content Standard G: History and Nature of Science
           Exploration expeditions.                                                         • Nature of science

           2. Visit             FOR MORE INFORMATION
           ground/edu/edu.html for additional education activities                        Paula Keener-Chavis, National Education
           related to exploration of the Charleston Bump.                                       Coordinator/Marine Biologist
                                                                                          NOAA Office of Exploration
         RESOURCES                                                                        Hollings Marine Laboratory 03bump/background/plan/plan.html            331 Fort Johnson Road, Charleston SC 29412
                     – Simulated flyover of the Charleston Bump                           843.762-8818
                                                                                          843.762-8737 (fax) – Web resources         
                   for information and classroom activities on
                   ocean bottom topography                                              ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
                                                                                          This lesson plan was produced by Mel Goodwin,         PhD, The Harmony Project, Charleston, SC
                    – Ocean Explorer photograph gallery                                   for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
                                                                                          Administration. If reproducing this lesson, please
         http://www/uky/edu/KGS/education/cookbook.html – The                             cite NOAA as the source, and provide the follow-
                   Geologic and Paleontologic Cookbook                                    ing URL:
                                                                                 – Project Oceanica Web
                    site, with a variety of resources on ocean
                    exploration topics

         Content Standard A: Science As Inquiry
             • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
             • Understandings about scientific inquiry

         Content Standard C: Life Science
             • Structure and function in living systems
             • Populations and ecosystems
             • Diversity and adaptations of organisms

         Content Standard D: Earth and Space Science
             • Structure of the Earth system

         Content Standard E: Science and Technology
             • Abilities of technological design
             • Understandings about science and technology


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