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UCI Science Project


3rd, 4th, 5th



Resource Types

  • Lesson Plans, 5 x 50 minutes
  • Presentation Slides
  • Activity - Classroom
  • Videos
  • Worksheets

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, California


Google Docs, Google Slides, PDF, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint

Our Magnificent Ocean

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  • In this multi-day lesson, students will investigate what is living in a drop of ocean water, the importance of phytoplankton to all life on Earth, and how climate change affects marine life.
  • Students will use microscopes, explore food webs, hear from a California-based marine scientist, make a model to illustrate ocean acidification, and create art to demonstrate their learning.
Teaching Tips


  • The video of the interview with the marine scientist from California will inspire students to consider a science career.
  • Students add their thoughts about what is in ocean water to a droplet graphic in different colors, giving them a visual representation of how their knowledge has grown throughout the lessons.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers will need different materials for this lesson, including Foldscopes or microscopes and flower petals.
  • Use the links in the Teacher Overview doc to access the worksheets and activity sheets, as some of the links in the presentation notes do not work.
  • The "What Do I Eat?" worksheet link is broken.
  • It may benefit students to know how molecules interact to create new compounds.
  • The QR code on the presentation slides may not work.


  • Make connections to plants on land that also photosynthesize and have students investigate the importance of all photosynthesizers to life on Earth.
  • Teachers can use the vocabulary terms at the bottom of the Sequence and Flow graphic and pair them with representative pictures to help students access them.
  • Have students write short stories about phytoplankton to demonstrate their learning.
  • Teachers can use the breathing exercise to introduce students to breathing as a coping strategy.
Scientist Notes
Climate change has impacted our ocean negatively, especially on phytoplankton. This lesson plan provides students with insights on the importance of phytoplankton. It is well-sourced and is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Visual & Performing Arts
    • Visual Arts: Standard 1 - Generating and conceptualizing ideas.
      • 1.5.5.Cr1b: Individually and collaboratively set goals, investigate, choose, and demonstrate diverse approaches to art-making that is meaningful to the makers.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • 5-ESS2-1. Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
    • LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
      • 3-LS4-3. Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
      • 3-LS4-4. Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.
  • English Language Arts
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • SL.PE.4.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
      • SL.PI.4.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
  • Related Resources


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