Rubber Ducky You’re the One – Ocean Currents Investigation

Each year when studying the ocean currents I pull out the rubber ducky phenomena. If you have not heard of it, watch this quick video:

It’s pretty cool that rubber ducks have helped to track ocean currents in the last thirty years! My students absolutely love this activity and it may be the way I present it, but really it grabs their attention regardless.

I start off by giving them a brief paragraph to proofread (pulls in some ELA). The paragraph just tells them simply what happened for the rubber ducks to be in the ocean. We discuss it and then I tell them that NOAA needs their help tracking the data. I give them a link to text messages that have been coming in and they create a data table. Click Here to see the text messages! 

After they have their data table, I give them a map and we review how to plot things on a map using latitude and longitude (plotting points bringing in some math). Once the points are plotted we discuss how the ducks ended up all over the world.

Depending on time, I either give them an article to annotate and discuss with a partner about the ducks. Or I go ahead and give them an ocean currents map to label and color code. I found this awesome map on Layers of Learning! Click the map to get it for your students!

We then go back and look at our duck map and discover which currents the ducks could have taken to make it to certain locations.

To finish out the lesson I have students write a CER response, explaining what they learned during this process. I always get some great answers and patterns of thinking. Depending on my students I provide fill-in-the-blank or graphic organizers to pull in their thinking about Ocean Currents.

All in all, it is one of my favorite lessons to teach! How do you teach ocean currents?

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Rubber Ducky You're the One - Ocean Current Investigation

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