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Ocean Currents



Through the video students are introduced to Bernie the Buoy, a capsule containing hundreds of letters that was launched into the Atlantic Ocean. An embedded tracker allowed us to follow Bernie's progress.

Key Issues

- An introduction to ocean currents.
- How ocean currents affect weather.
- How fast currents travel around the ocean.
- The Gulf Stream.



This lesson is an introduction to ocean currents. It is tailored to students who have little understanding of currents and their role within the global climate system.  However, it is flexible enough to be useful beyond this (especially for schools who haven’t taken part in the project).  The lesson is jam-packed with activities. These will spill over into homework with some classes and have been designed with this in mind. There is a longer Web Enquiry activity to supplement lesson work, which looks specifically at The Gulf Stream. This requires internet access and would be suitable for advanced classes.

The full background to the Message in a Bottle project can be found on this page



Starter Activities

  Card Sort - use the card sort and picture cards to piece together the story of Bernie the Buoy.  There is a writing frame to help guide students through the journey.


Enquiry Project

 - We have designed an enquiry project exploring how the Gulf Stream affect our own coastline. It can be downloaded here
 - How have ocean currents affected us beyond the weather they bring? (introduction into trade routes)
 - What things would Bernie the buoy encounter in his average day in the ocean?

Lesson Activities

The video throws up a number of different issues and could be incorporated into a variety of main lesson activities. Here are a few examples:

  • We have designed worksheets enabling students to plot the course of Bernie's voyage - using maths to understand how fast ocean currents move.  This then leads into an activity exploring how ocean currents influence costal climates.  Both of these are very maths focussed.
  • Listen to some of the letters written by students in Sierra Leone.  What would you write if you were writing a Message in a Bottle letter to an unknown recipient?  Students can write their own letters and compare them with the Sierra Leonean letters.



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