Alaska Seas and Watersheds Curriculum

Alaska Seas and Watersheds Curriculum

Marla Brownlee (editor)


The online Alaska Seas and Watersheds marine/aquatic curriculum, developed by Alaska teachers, provides high-quality units for use by teachers and homeschoolers, as well as youth groups, nature tour guides, and anyone seeking fascinating content on marine science topics. Nine separate units promote hands-on science through developmentally appropriate curriculum for each grade level, K–8. The curriculum reflects the richness and diversity of Alaska and fosters respect and appreciation for the environment in future decision-makers, and establishes and celebrates community connections. The curriculum meets Alaska science content standards and grade level expectations.

This replaces the popular Alaska Sea Week Curriculum Series developed in the 1980s.

Discovering Our Blue Planet


(3–4 week unit)

Students discover aquatic environments and the living and nonliving things that are found in them, through active observation outdoors and in the classroom. They practice skills of recording, comparing, questioning, and communicating.

Plants and Animals of Seas and Rivers

Grade 1

(6–8 week unit)

Students discover the wide variety of living things that are found in and near the water, through investigations and games in the classroom and active observation outdoors. They practice science skills of noticing details, comparing, sorting, measuring, questioning, recording, and communicating. Many activities are integrated with math, lan guage arts, art, and social studies.

At Home in the Water

Grade 2

(4–6 week unit)

Students gain an understanding of habitat and the organisms that live within specific habitats, through five different investigations, each building on the next. Native ways of knowing are supported as students learn respect for living creatures and care of the world around them.

Rivers to the Sea and Back Again

Grade 3

(3–4 week unit)

Students develop knowledge of watersheds and the water cycle, as well as knowledge of the life cycle of salmon and the needs of salmon as they relate to watersheds. Activities include stories, discussion, a water cycle simulation game, collaborative research, a field trip to a local water body to assess its potential to support salmon, and creating a model of a healthy watershed.

The Case of the Missing Sea Otter

Grade 4

(3–5 week unit)

Students develop an understanding of how organisms in an aquatic environment are connected to each other through four investigations. Students participate in a sampling simulation, make predictions, and try to solve the mystery of the missing otters. They then apply their knowledge of ecosystems to their local aquatic environment. Finally, students share their collected data with other classrooms around the state.

Humans and the Ocean

Grade 5

(4–5 week unit)

Students develop an understanding of the connections between humans and the ocean through case studies, analysis of changing technology, and activities that illustrate impacts of one part of a system on its other components. They plan and carry out a monitoring activity, create community awareness, and take action to protect the ocean.

Exploring the Ocean

Grade 6

(5–6 week unit)

Students learn about ocean exploration through a variety of activities and simulations that investigate deep sea canyons, seamounts, and the Bering Sea. They also explore their local waters using sampling techniques to discover the plants and animals.

Ocean in Motion

Grade 7

(8–9 week unit)

Students learn about patterns of physical changes as they investigate weather and ocean circulation patterns, waves, tides, temperature, salinity, effects of ocean floor topography on currents, and the motion of the global conveyor belt.

Our Changing World

Grade 8

(8–9 week unit)

Students learn how changes in physical environments affect our ecosystems by investigating melting sea ice and melting glaciers. They also participate in a WebQuest, look at changes in their local environment, and create a digital story about the effects of a warming climate.

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What others say

"This is a very exciting learning tool which will, through its integrative and collaborative approach, fill a much needed gap in education and awareness in the state."—N.L.S., School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks

“We have had positive feedback from teachers. When they look at the website they like it. All the materials they need are right there; there is no extra work for them to do. We will have continued interaction with teachers—and we will modify the curriculum.”—Marilyn Sigman, Curriculum Coordinator, Marine Education Specialist, and Assistant Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks