Why Explore Oceans?

As I write this, I am watching a replay of the Apollo landing on the moon. Forty-eight years after I first watched it and it still gives me shivers. My son asked a few minutes ago why we went there, and why, if it was important to go there, why didn't we go back? My gut reaction to him was that we went because people explore. This month we landed a robot on Mars.
Layers at the base of Mount Sharp, Mars
I've been preparing for teaching the first oceanography unit, Exploration. People are curious and love adventure. Where we have gone has depended on technological innovations and advances. We have now been to the Moon and to Mars, and still much of our own planet remains unexplored. The questions for my students are: Why is much of the ocean unexplored? and Why should we explore the ocean further?
Bathymetric Sounding of Ocean Floor
In the journey to understand these "why's", my students will journey with past explorers from ancient times, through the middle ages and European voyages, and learn about our present ocean exploration endeavors. This work was great fun for all of us last year (see Filling in the Blanks post), and I am greatly looking forward to it again this year. The joy of this unit is that it allows students to direct their own learning.

So we move from questing with dugout boats with outriggers to questing with robotic vehicles, navigating by stars to navigating by global positioning satellites, and the oceanography journey begins.

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