Educational resources on our world's ocean

National Geographic Education

One Ocean Teacher Guide

Life on Earth would not be possible without the ocean. When viewed from space, our planet is a world covered with water. All living things are intimately tied to this water in so many ways. Yet, despite its importance, a 2003 report by the Pew Oceans Commission determined that the United States' general public knows very little about the ocean.

But why is this important? To understand how the ocean impacts our lives daily, we need to understand how it influences weather and climate, that its inhabitants produce much of the oxygen we breathe, that the life found in the ocean feeds us, and how its currents are used to connect humans around the Earth, as well as the myriad of ocean life forms that inspire and amaze us. When a person is literate in how the ocean impacts humanity on a daily basis, they are given the tools to better protect the ocean through their daily behaviors and their voting habits.

This guide was developed to support teachers in teaching topics with real-world context, and provide them with the background to feel competent and comfortable when teaching about the ocean. It provides a solid introduction to the ocean and the ocean literacy principles in an accessible and reader-friendly manner. In addition to general information about the ocean, the guide includes numerous education features, such as teaching tips and student thinking, that help to connect the content to classroom practice.

National Geographic Education

Marine Ecology, Human Impacts & Conservation

As part of National Geographic Society’s Ocean Initiative, National Geographic Education is working to help teachers like you educate your students about the importance of ocean health and the establishment and management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

National Geographic Education has developed a series of teacher-tested classroom activities for you to use in your science courses, specifically to incorporate within your high school biology curriculum to teach students about marine ecology, human impacts on the ocean, and ocean conservation.

This collection of activities invites you to use current classroom technologies, videos, photo galleries, and maps to give students a clear view of the health and importance of the ocean. These activities provide you with tools that help students take effective notes, use graphic organizers, and formulate opinions about ocean-related environmental issues. This project-based learning experience culminates with students using their new knowledge about marine ecology and human impacts on the ocean to create and propose a management plan for a Marine Protected Area.

This unit was originally developed for the National Teacher Leadership Academy (NTLA) 2010 Summer Geography Institute.

National Geographic Education

Subject Area: Ocean Exploration
Grade Level: 6-8

Download Lesson PlanWhat does it mean to be an explorer?

Subject Area: Protect the Blue: Marine Protected Areas
Grade Level: 6-8

Download Lesson PlanHow does the percentage of protected land compare to the amount of protected ocean?

Subject Area: Undersea Geology
Grade Level: 6-8

Download Lesson PlanWhere are undersea geologic features located?

National Geographic Education

Subject Areas: Deep Sea Ecosystems: Extreme Living
Grade Level: 3-5


Download Lesson PlanHow are organisms able to survive in the deep sea?

Subject Areas: How People Affect Ocean Animals and Plants
Grade Level: K-2


Download Lesson PlanHow do people who live on coasts affect ocean animals and plants?

University of Oxford

Light and life in the ocean & Coral Reefs

Professor Alex Rogers has created two lesson plans to introduce students to life in the ocean and the importance of coral reefs. Each lesson plan offers a Power Point presentation, video and teachers aid. They are designed to introduce students to the various life in our oceans.


Subject Areas: Science and Art
Grade Level: K-6 (Ages 5-12)


Download Lesson PlanAlex Rogers Light and Life in the Ocean Lesson Plan

Download Lesson PlanAlex Rogers Coral Reefs Lesson Plan


Effects of Plastic Pollution

OMG created this set of 10 educational cards so they could show students how plastic pollution effects virtually every animal on the planet. The cards are designed to express the importance of awareness and also serve as a tool to allow students to work as a group to discuss ways to rectify the issue in their homes, schools, and community.


Lesson Objectives

  • Students will understand the effects of plastic pollution on living organisms.
  • Students will be more aware of simple changes each one of us can incorporate into our daily lives which will have an immediate impact on our environment.
  • Students will think critically about their role in reducing plastic pollution and be motivated to take responsible action to reduce the problem.


Subject Areas: Science and Art
Grade Level: K-6 (Ages 5-12)
Time: 60 minutes


Download Lesson PlanOMG Effects of Plastic Pollution Lesson Plan - PDF

Download Lesson PlanOMG Effects of Plastic Pollution Lesson Plan - Power Point


Fishing Gear 101

We are often asked to describe various types of fishing gear and explain which ones are the most destructive to the ocean. Another frequent question is why our seafood ratings for a particular species differ depending on the fishing method used. To help answer these questions, we decided to create a Fishing Gear 101 blog series . In this series, we will describe how common types of gear work, what they catch, how they affect ocean wildlife and habitats, what technologies or regulations can help lessen the gear’s negative effects, and what we see as the path forward to ensure healthy oceans in the future.

We want to help seafood consumers, businesses, and chefs who use our seafood ratings better understand what the terms ‘trawl,’ ‘longline,’ or ‘handline’ really mean. We also hope Fishing Gear 101 will help everyone understand the collateral damage that fishing can cause to the ocean and the importance of choosing seafood caught in a responsible way.


Subject Areas: Science and Policy
Grade Level: Age 12+

Trawls - Bulldozers of the Ocean

Gillnets - The Entanglers              


Earth Vision Institute

Getting The Picture: Our Changing Climate

Getting The Picture: Our Changing Climate is a free, online, multimedia climate science education tool designed to provide students and educators with a dynamic, interactive, learning experience. Esteemed scientists, educators, explorers and photographers from around the world have joined together to create chapter-by-chapter lessons that combine art, science and adventure. Critically acclaimed photographer James Balog and the Earth Vision Institute team bring you the latest in climate science, featuring unique archives of media, film, photography and first-hand accounts of our changing climate. The innovative education resource is easy to use in classrooms, kiosks, libraries and museums and features current research from leading experts and government agencies such as NASA, NCAR, NOAA and EPA.


Subject Areas: Science and Biology, and incorporates History, Economics, Geography, Art, and Social Studies
Grade Level: 6-12 (Ages 12-18)


Download Lesson PlanGetting the Picture: Our Changing Climate

Download Lesson PlanIntroduction: What is Climate Change?

Download Lesson PlanChapter 1: Seeing Climate Change

Download Lesson PlanChapter 2: Our Changing Atmosphere

Download Lesson PlanChapter 3: Our Changing Hydrosphere

Download Lesson PlanChapter 4: Our Changing Biosphere

Download Lesson PlanChapter 5: Our Changing Planet

Download Lesson PlanChapter 6: Our Changing Future