Scientifically-Interesting Stories

Scientifically-Interesting Story of Phytoplankton Blooms: Follow the Energy Flow (Lesson Resources)

Scientifically-Interesting Story of Phytoplankton Blooms: Follow the Energy Flow

Are you looking for a storyline about natural resources and phytoplankton to use with your students that features data analysis?  Consider using the Scientifically-Interesting Story resources in your classroom today! 

This Scientifically-Interesting Story includes the following set of "tools" that teachers may use address the science practice of Data Analysis and Interpretation all within the context of understanding this important feature of the Biosphere.  These resources are flexible and adaptable and may be used in a variety ways depending upon your classroom and instructional needs.

 Resource Description and Intended Uses

Tool Purpose Description

Teacher Presentation 
Interactive Google Files 

This teacher-centered presentation weaves in various resources found in the My NASA Data Scientifically-Interesting Story of Phytoplankton Blooms in the Polar Regions and models how this data story can be unpacked for your students. This resource, and its instructional technology components, can be adapted to fit your teaching style, standards and needs of your students. These resources are offered to help you scaffold data analysis and interpretation, increase engagement, and leverage the power of NASA data for authentic learning!

Teacher Presentation

The presentation features various interactive elements ranging from the integration of Google products  and the Earth System Data Explorer visualization tool.

google doc icon
google slide icon
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Google Jamboard

Interactive Models

The three interactive models leverage the power of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to visualize NASA and other related data to facilitate data analysis and interpretation.  In each of the three models, students analyze NASA satellite data and describe the distribution of phytoplankton over time and space. They also identify patterns in chlorophyll concentration data to formulate their explanations of phytoplankton distribution. These internet-based models are designed to be used by students and/or teachers on a one-to-one device or one-to-many setting.


Follow along with Subject Matter Expert, Dr. Brad Hegyi, as he models for teachers and students data analysis.  The videos are perfect for students, as well as for teachers who are learning strategies to connect phytoplankton distribution with flows of matter and energy concepts. *These videos feature student response forms that may be assigned to capture students' ideas and check for understanding.

In UnEarthing Data (Video, Part 1), Dr. Brad models the first two data analysis steps of a successful "data dig" in understanding phytoplankton data.  Dr. Brad also gives practical tips and tricks for analyzing Earth science data.   

In the subsequent video, UnEarthing Data (Video, Part 2), Dr. Brad continues to model the steps of data analysis by explaining the final three steps of his "data dig".  

UnEarthing Data (Video, Part 1)

UnEarthing Data (Video, Part 2)

UnEarthing Data: Phytoplankton Part 1 UnEarthing Data: Phytoplankton Part 2

Earth System Data Explorer

The Earth System Data Explorer may be used by teachers and students to analyze patterns of phytoplankton growth in an area of interest.  Teachers may use this tool to include regionally-relevant examples in their instruction.  Students may use the resource to explore an area of interest for research or problem-based learning projects.

    Earth System Data Explorer

    Access the relationship of phytoplankton and incoming solar radiation analyzing the following datasets:

    • Monthly Chlorophyll Concentration
    • Monthly Flow of Energy into Surface by Shortwave Radiation
    Map icon. Graph icon.


    • Biosphere
    • Hydrosphere
    • Earth as a System

    Grade Band

    • 6-8
    • 9-12

    NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas

    • LS2B: Cycles of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems
    • ESS2A: Earth Materials and Systems

    NGSS Science and Engineering Practices

    • Asking Questions and Defining Problems
    • Developing and Using Models
    • Planning and Carrying out Investigations
    • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
    • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
    • Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information

    Crosscutting Concepts

    • Cause and Effect
    • Stability and Change

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