Exploring the National Marine Sanctuaries: A Lesson in Habitats and Human Impacts

sea star on the shore
A sea star on the shore of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: Ellie Burck, Ocean for Life

Science in the middle grades should provide students with opportunities to enrich their growing knowledge of biodiversity. In this lesson, students will learn about the national marine sanctuaries found in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and off the coast of American Samoa. They include breeding and feeding grounds of whales, sea lions, sharks, and sea turtles; significant coral reefs and kelp forest habitats; and the remains of the U.S.S. Monitor, a Civil War ironclad that sank off the coast of North Carolina. By learning about the biodiversity, ecological integrity, and cultural legacy of these marine sanctuaries, students can place into context what they are learning about the interdependence of living things on our planet.

After being introduced to the marine sanctuaries as a class, students will work in small groups to develop posters that highlight key ideas in the benchmarks in the context of the individual marine sanctuaries.

The following links are downloadable pdfs for the lesson plan Exploring National Marine Sanctuaries. This lesson was developed by educators from the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries to be used in both formal and informal education settings.