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1.4.3 Mixing up the Water Column


Students will investigate the effect of water temperature on mixing in the water column.

Sidebar: Nansen: the Man, the Bottle...the Sled!

Materials (for each team of 3/4 students)

  • 2 identical wide-mouth jars (20 oz. size work well)
  • 2 different food colorings in dropper-type squeeze bottles
  • tap water
  • safety goggles
  • 30 oz. cold water pre-chilled in refrigerator
  • index card slightly larger than the jar mouth
  • Activity 1.4.3 Student Worksheet, "Mixing up the Water Column"


Ask students for their predictions about how different water temperatures will affect movement in the ocean water column. List all suggestions on chalkboard.



Complete Activity 1.4.3 lab investigation. Allow time for clean-up!


Is muddy water heavier or lighter than fresh water of the same temperature? Describe an experiment you could do to prove your hypothesis and carry out your experiment for the class.

Ships have long obtained their drinking water by distilling sea water. How is water distilled?

Heat a beaker of salt water on a lab stand over an alcohol burner until the water steams or boils. Arrange an aluminum foil cover to catch steam rising off the boiling water. Contour the foil so the condensing steam drips to one side and falls into a second beaker. Record your results and save to include in your assessment portfolio.

The 3 Activities in The Ocean in Motion stress the importance of layers in and the motion of the water column, and the nutrient-rich nature of the Antarctic ocean. Be sure to have students include a summary of their discoveries in their Logbooks.

Suggested URLs

Ocean in Commotion contains multiple links to information about why the ocean is salty, currents, density, temperature, satellite images, circulation. For older students

"Why Is the Ocean Salty?" (US Geological Survey) Clear and easy to understand

Project Athena activities including Tracking Drifter Buoys and Ocean Color lessons.

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Last Update: 1/18/97
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