Download This Full Lesson: MH Lesson 2 Ocean Chemistry
Kelp aquaculture is a new and growing industry in Maine. Because kelp is a macroalgae, it requires different growing conditions than shellfish or finfish. Many kelp aquaculturists start growing kelp in a laboratory setting and set out the seeds in the fall. Over the winter, the kelp grows and is ready to harvest in early spring. Kelp is unique in that it absorbs nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and carbon dioxide (CO2), all of which are harmful to the environment in excess amounts. Once the kelp is harvested, the nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon dioxide that were absorbed from the plant are physically removed from the ocean environment. Kelp acts like a bio extractor, which may benefit the surrounding environment. Currently, research is being done in Casco Bay to see how many nutrients and how much carbon dioxide kelp farms can actually absorb, and if they can counteract the harmful effects of ocean acidification.
There are three parts to this lesson. The first part focuses on the key terms in the kelp section of the film (minutes 2:37 – 3:40). Students will have a short discussion about what they learned, using the guiding questions the teacher provides (see below). The second part of the lesson allows students to explore the chemistry and atomic structures of elements N and P, and the compound, CO2 and the significance of these two elements and compound. The final portion of this lesson is a hands-on activity in which students examine a piece of sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima). There are two extensions to this lesson; one on marine toxins and water quality monitoring, and one on ocean acidification in the Gulf of Maine.
- Why is it important to understand ocean chemistry?
- How does ocean chemistry impact life in the ocean?
- explain the structure and properties of the elements N, P and CO2 and the process by which kelp absorbs excess N, P and CO2 in the ocean.
- describe the anatomy and functions of sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima).
|Next Generation Science Standards:||MS-PS1-1, HS-PS1-1|