Ocean Unit Science Experiments on Salinity and Water Temperature
We just love hands-on activities! They are what make our units come alive! In this portion of our Ocean Unit, we did a number of experiments to show how salinity and water temperatures influence the oceans’ currents.
Our first experiment was on salinity. In this experiment we talked about how salt changes the density of water. One jar had no salt and the other jar had a lot of salt mixed in. Then we dropped pony beads into the water. After a moment or two, the beads in the salt-free jar fell to the bottom while the ones that were placed in the salty water continued to float.
After that, we pulled out the dye and an index card to do the next experiment… how do plain water and salt water interact? We dyed the salt water red and the plain water blue. The first time we did this, the plain water was placed on top. We placed an index card on top of the blue, plain water and flipped the jar upside down. We then slid the index card out. (Note: We took a little too long and the index card started to rip. After that we placed the index card in a Ziploc bag and everything went smoothly!)
As you can see, the plain water remained separate from the salt water.
When we did the experiment in reverse with the salt water on top, the salt water and plain water immediately began to mix.
Cold Water – Warm Water Experiment
For this next activity, we put yellow food dye in warm/hot water and green water in very cold ice water (with no ice included). First, we had the warm water on top. We placed an index card in a Ziploc bag, placed that over the warm water, flipped it upside down and put the jar on top of the cold water.
When we removed the index card, the warm water stayed separate from the cold and did not mix. (See the yellow-green picture below left!)
Next, we placed the cold water on top. As soon as we started to remove the index card, the cold and warm water started to mix.
We did this activity twice. The first time we used a clear glass bowl and a paper cup.
The paper cup was taped to the side of the bowl making sure that the cup was well above the water line. We filled the glass bowl with warm water. Then we carefully poured cold ice water into the cup. We took a meat skewer and poked a hole in the bottom of the cup.
We observed what happened. The cool water streamed out of the cup and then pooled along the bottom (not mixing with the warmer water above).
The second time we did this activity, we had a different purpose in mind. Instead of looking at the density of the cooler water, I wanted the kids to understand how water can flow in two different directions like surface currents and deep currents do in the ocean.
This time we used a huge plastic container with warm water. We poked a hole in the bottom/side of a plastic bottle and temporarily plugged it with a bit of clay. We filled it with blue ice water. Then we attached the bottle to the side of the plastic bin. One of the kids took off the plug. The cool blue water once again streamed out (as long as the water was higher in the plastic bottle). The kids then took a straw and gently blew a piece of tin foil in the opposite direction along the surface of the water.
We watched a couple of videos about salinity and about ocean currents and also did several worksheets that are in our Ocean Unit.
Note: We talked about surface winds in our Weather Unit last spring.
$8.99 Ocean Unit: Ocean Unit – Layers of the Ocean/Ocean Zone visit the post or view image 1, image 2, image 3, image 4, image 5, image 6, image 7, image 8, image 9 This in-depth unit covers marine habitats, coral reefs, tide pools, water form words, features of the ocean floor, salinity, tides & the phases of the moon, ocean currents, fish & their special body features, bioluminescence and the ocean zones. There are lots of hands-on activity ideas included too!
Be sure to check your PayPal email address for the download link. If you have any questions, feel free to email me! ~Liesl
NOTE: The Ocean Unit is included in the Biology Bundle of 5. (See this post).
When we covered Marine Habitats, we went into quite a lot of depth about coral reefs. You can read more about that portion of our unit here: Coral Reefs
We then talked about the features of the ocean floor. From there we went on to talk about old-time navigation techniques.
She did a few activities using an “astrolabe” and a compass. Obviously, it was not nighttime, so instead of finding Polaris and determining her bearing, instead she found where north was and then figured out where the north star would be. Knowing that, we then went out in the evening to see if she was right based on the tools she used. 🙂
In our ocean studies we explored
- Marine Habitats
- Coral Reefs
- Tide Pools
- Water Form Words (bay, estuary, lagoon, fjord, etc.)
- Features of the Ocean Floor (trench, seamount, guyot, etc.)
- Ocean Navigation (early navigation with astrolabes & the constellations, modern SONAR)
- Ocean Currents (Surface & Deep Sea Currents)
- Ocean Life:
- The Ocean Zones
- There are lots of hands-on activity ideas included too!
We also talked about the ocean zones and different layers of the ocean again (which we covered three or four years ago).
Ocean Unit : Again, for more information you can visit this post: 100+ page Ocean Packet. It is well over 100+ pages at this point and keeps growing as I add in this-and-that! It covers marine habitats, ocean zones, ocean features, tides and other topics. ~Liesl
Again, if you are interested in our Biology BUNDLE, visit this page:
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