Invasive species and nutrient pollution are two major issues threatening the health of the oceans.  Having a better understanding of how local actions can have global impacts can help us design solutions to these problems. 

About This Video

Grade level: 6-10
Length: 5.75 minutes
Next Generation Science Standards: MS-ESS3-3, MS-LS2-4 (PEs); MS-ESS3.C, MS-LS2.C (DCIs); Systems, Stability and Change (CCCs)
Ocean Literacy Principles: 1g, 1h, 6b, 6d, 6g

Video Discussion Questions:

  1. What is an ‘invasive species’? What impacts can invasive species have on marine ecosystems?

  2. What is a ‘Marine Protected Area,’ or MPA? What is its purpose? How can MPAs differ?

  3. What impacts can nutrient pollution have on the ocean?

  4. How do ‘dead zones’ form?

  5. What do you think is meant by the saying ‘think globally, act locally’? How does it apply to the issues you learned about in this video?

Download more discussion questions
Download student vocabulary


Post-Viewing Classroom Activities (grades 6-10):




Analyzing and Interpreting Visual Datasets

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What do you notice in this image? Do you see any evidence of human impacts on the marine environment, direct or indirect? 

  • Using these prompts with photographs or satellite images gives your students the opportunity to directly observe how human activities could be contributing to issues like nutrient pollution or invasive species. Here are some free photo and satellite image sources:
    • Google Earth is a great resource to use in this exercise not only because it is free, but because in many places you can look at changes through time. Use Google Earth to identify sources of nutrient or other water pollution in your community.
    • The California Coastal Records Project is an extensive collection of high-resolution oblique aerial photographs of the California coastline over time. In these photos, you can see just how close some agricultural fields and other potential sources of pollution are to the ocean.
    • NASA's Images of Change show beautiful but sometimes haunting satellite images of changes on Earth's surface over time, including these images showing before and after the Elwha Dam was removed in Washington State, and these images showing artificial island construction in the UAE.

Arguing From Evidence

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How exactly do we determine which regions of the oceans to designate as national marine sanctuaries or marine protected areas?

  • Engage your students in learning about the importance of oceanic resources by empowering them to protect these resources by influencing policy. For the first time in 20 years, NOAA is accepting nominations for new national marine sanctuaries from communities across the United States.
  • Challenge your class to participate in this marine sanctuary nomination process. Students can work in groups to do research and collect evidence to support their choice for a new marine sanctuary location, then use this evidence to make their case in front of their classmates. After listening to all groups' cases, students can decide on one location to nominate as a class.  To get your students started with their research, here are questions NOAA asks when considering where to designate new national marine sanctuaries:
    • Does the place have natural resources or habitat with special ecological significance?
    • Does the place have maritime heritage resources with special historical, cultural, archaeological significance?
    • Does the place have important economic uses like tourism, fishing, diving, and other recreational activities?
    • Do all of these things depend on conservation and management of the resources?





Science Notebook Reflections With Crosscutting Concepts

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The NGSS Crosscutting Concepts present different ways of thinking about science content. Here are some example prompts using CCC lenses your students can reflect on after viewing the video:

  • Stability and Change/Systems How can the use of fertilizers by individual farms along the Mississippi River lead to a dead zone the size of New Jersey at the Mississippi River mouth?
  • Cause and Effect Think about the impacts that humans have had on marine ecosystems, and reflect on one or two examples of cause and effect. In other words, what changes have we observed in marine environments and what human activities could have caused these effects? How could you measure these effects and trace them back to these activities?

Explore strategies and lessons to bring science notebooking into your classroom in our Science Notebook Corner


Connections to Standards

While this video doesn't necessarily cover the following standards in depth, it is a compelling resource you can use to supplement your curriculum that does.

NGSS Performance Expectations (Grades 6-8)
​MS-ESS3-3: Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
​MS-LS2-4: Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas (Grades 6-8)
MS-ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
MS-LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience

NGSS Crosscutting Concepts (Grades 6-8)
Systems and System Models
Stability and Change

Ocean Literacy Principles
#1: The Earth has one big ocean with many features.
#6: The oceans and humans are inextricably interconnected.


Healthy Oceans: Browse all materials

The ocean affects everyone. It provides important resources and recreational enjoyment to people around the world and is home to some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth: coral reefs. But the ocean's resources and biodiversity are under threat from human impacts. What are some local actions we can take to protect our global ocean?


Additional Resources

How Quickly Do Ships Cross the Oceans?
This short data-rich visualization from the California Academy of Sciences shows the movement of ship traffic around the globe over an 11-day period in May of 2014. Use this clip in conjunction with one of the suggested lessons from NOAA and others on invasive species.

NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries
Learn more about marine sanctuaries and marine protected areas--what and where they are, and how you can get involved with them as a volunteer or citizen scientist.

Lesson: From Farms to Phytoplankton (grades 6-11)
Can we use a model to predict the impacts of nutrient pollutants on an aquatic ecosystem? In this activity, students participate in a kinesthetic simulation to illustrate how nutrient pollution from agricultural runoff can lead to a dead zone at the mouth of a drainage basin.