Exploring the Ocean with OOI Data

A collection of online laboratory exercises featuring data from the Ocean Observatories Initiative

Version 1.0 of the Online Lab Manual was pilot tested during the Fall 2020 semester. Version 2.0 of the Online Lab Manual is in the process of being updated based on this feedback. Links to lab activities will remain active, but pages may be under construction between July 1-July 31, 2021.

Lab Chapters & Authors

Lab 1 – Introduction to the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) – The collection of oceanographic data

  • Denise Bristol, Hillsborough Community College-SouthShore
  • Anna Pfeiffer-Herbert, Stockton University
  • Lauren Sahl, Maine Maritime Academy

Lab 2 – Building Data Skills – The display of oceanographic data

  • Lauren Sahl, Maine Maritime Academy
  • Anna Pfeiffer-Herbert, Stockton University
  • Denise Bristol, Hillsborough Community College-SouthShore

Lab 3 – Geology – Plate Tectonics and the Seafloor

  • Benjamin Jordan, Brigham Young University-Hawaii
  • Kathleen Browne, Rider University

Lab 4 – Geology – Sea Floor Changes in a Volcanically Active Setting

  • Kathleen Browne, Rider University
  • Benjamin Jordan, Brigham Young University-Hawaii


Lab 5 – Ocean Chemistry – Investigating Density and Stratification in the Ocean

  • Jacqui Degan, Cape Fear Community College
  • Mikelle Nuwer, University of Washington

Lab 6 – Ocean Physics – Waves Generated by Large Storms

  • Joseph W. Long, University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Richard W. Dixon, Texas State

Lab 7 -Primary Production – Identify factors that control Primary Production in the western temperate Atlantic Ocean

  • Gabriela Smalley, Rider University
  • Rebecca Freeman, University of Kentucky

Lab 8 – Anoxic Events – Solve the mystery of the dying crabs

  • Rebecca Freeman, University of Kentucky
  • Gabriela Smalley, Rider University

Interactive Data Visualization Designer (all labs)

  • Sage Lichtenwalner, Rutgers University


  • Denise L. Bristol, Hillsborough Community College-SouthShore
  • Anna Pfeiffer-Herbert, Stockton UniversityGroup photo: Data Labs Notebook Team

Project Staff: Rutgers University

  • Project Manager: Janice McDonnell,
  • Project Coordinator: Christine Bean
  • Project Assistant: Devin Busono


The Ocean Data Labs Manual was developed by collaborating undergraduate professors to:

  • Engage Undergraduate students with online large data set activities related to key oceanography concepts.
  • Build student confidence in scientific questioning, data analysis, and synthesis while capitalizing on large, professionally-collected data sets like the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI).
  • Teach students about authentic very messy scientific data vs ‘cleaned-up’ textbook examples
  • Train undergraduate students in basic data skills, data interpretation and analysis, and reinforce those skills within each lab chapter.
  • Ensure that each activity and widgets are properly scaffolded to be accessible to students from a variety of backgrounds.
  • Provide a real world context for the oceanographic data and introduce students to data skills that they can use as science majors or non-majors.
  • To build data literacy and critical thinking skills in undergraduate students
  • Provide Instructors, from a variety of different backgrounds, data lab activities that are online and ‘Plug and Play’ versions of lab activities for their classes
  • Be used in a variety of Introductory Oceanography (or similar geosciences) courses at 2YC or 4YC.
  • Lab activities follow a typical course sequence, but may be used as stand alone modules.
  • Flexible for use in face-to-face, online or hybrid lecture or lab courses

Instructors’ Guides


©2020 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, All rights reserved.


We encourage the reuse and dissemination of the material on this site for noncommercial education purposes as long as attribution is retained. To this end the material on this site, unless otherwise noted, is offered under a Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0.

Attribution should include, at a minimum, citation of the chapter with authors and editors in the following format:

[contributing chapter authors] and Lichtenwalner, S. (2020). [chapter title]. In Bristol, D.L. and Pfeiffer-Herbert, A. (Eds.), Ocean Data Labs: Exploring the Ocean with OOI Data – Online Laboratory Manual. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Accessed [date] https://datalab.marine.rutgers.edu/ooi-lab-exercises/


NSF LogoReviewer Acknowledgements: These lab exercises were greatly improved by feedback from pilot testers in Fall 2020.

This project was developed with the support of the National Science Foundation under Grant No. OCE-1831625. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.