Interactive Models

Global Phytoplankton Distribution


Using interactive maps of chlorophyll concentration, students will identify patterns to formulate their explanations of phytoplankton distribution over time and space.

This interactive model is one of a three-part sequence of learning experiences related to Global Phytoplankton Distribution. To maximize optimal learning outcomes, it is suggested to complete the series in the following order:

  1. Global Phytoplankton Distribution Interactive Model (current page)
  2. Phytoplankton Distribution and Watersheds Interactive Model
  3. Chlorophyll Concentration and Incoming Shortwave Radiation Interactive Model

This story map is intended to be used with students who have access to a computing device in a 1:1 or 1:2 setting.

Global Phytoplankton Distribution SIS

Materials Required

Resources Needed Per Student:


  1. Using an internet accessible device, students open the link to the Global Phytoplankton Distribution Interactive Model to begin their exploration of this phenomenon.
  2. Distribute the Global Phytoplankton Distribution Interactive Model Student Sheet (optional). Have students navigate on their own through the interactive model to answer the questions and complete the activities on their student sheet.

Global Phytoplankton Distribution SISClick Here

Teacher Note

At the bottom of the ocean's food chain, phytoplankton account for roughly half of the net photosynthesis on Earth. Their photosynthesis consumes carbon dioxide and plays a key role in transferring carbon from the atmosphere to the ocean. Unlike the plant ecosystems on land, the amount of phytoplankton in the ocean is always followed closely by the abundance of organisms that eat phytoplankton, creating a perpetual dance between predators and prey. 

To learn more, visit: 

Teachers who are interested in receiving the answer key, please complete the Teacher Key Request and Verification Form. We verify that requestors are teachers prior to sending access to the answer keys as we’ve had many students try to pass as teachers to gain access.

  • Students will analyze and describe the distribution of phytoplankton over time and space. 
  • Students will identify patterns in chlorophyll concentration data to formulate their explanations of phytoplankton distribution. 
  • How does the concentration of phytoplankton change between coastal waters and open ocean?
  • What patterns do you observe in phytoplankton concentration across the low, middle, and high latitudes?
  • One-to-One (tablet, laptop, or CPU)
  • One-to-a-Group

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