Lab 1 – The collection of the oceanographic data
Instructor Guide

This lab introduces the Ocean Observatories Initiative system of arrays, platforms and sensors. It also provides essential background on recognizing the geographic locations of the OOI arrays and using latitude/longitude map grids. Students will begin to learn about interesting science questions and methods of data collection enabled by the OOI.

Approximate time involved: 1.5-2 hours for the entire lab

Learning outcomes

After completing this lab students will be able to:

  • LO1. recognize several of the common platforms and sensors used to collect oceanographic data
  • LO2. locate OOI arrays on a world map by latitude/longitude and ocean basin name
  • LO3. identify OOI tools used in examples of scientific research
  • L04. determine latitude and longitude for locations
Learning outcome Introduction Activity 1 Activity 2 Activity 3
Outcome 1 Introduced Guided Practice
Outcome 2 Introduced Applied
Outcome 3 Introduced Guided Practice
Outcome 4 Introduced Introduced and Applied

Materials needed: For Activity 1, you may want to print out World map with latitude and longitude for students to work with when locating arrays and estimating distance to a home port

What students should know before this activity

  • Data skills: Basic map reading, including distance scale bars, recognition of ocean basins, continents and major cities
  • Content knowledge: Students do not need to have content knowledge for this lab.

What instructors should know before this activity

Optional pre-lab activities:

Latitude and longitude with a world map –  have students find various ocean basin features based on lat/long and have the students provide the lat/long for various features.

Each of the lab activities have Quick Check interactive question(s) that students can use to review information and/or check their understanding. While these are not meant to be graded question, there are questions within the lab that are similar of use the knowledge checked in these questions.

Teaching notes

Introduction and Lab 1.1

Undergraduates are often fascinated by all the technology that we use in the oceans.  Additional information on  OOI instruments can be shared with students. As an extension of this activity you could have students to work in groups or individually to research underwater technologies.  They can then informally present information in class, or post to a Underwater Technology Discussion with Rubric

Lab 1.2

This activity introduces two examples of scientific results from the OOI arrays and asks students to identify the platforms and sensors used in these research examples.

Highlight #1: The article by Barth et al. (2018) includes the eclipse story on pages 95-96, with a nice graphic of the bioacoustic sensor output plus a time series of light levels in Figure 6. This article also discusses the research that motivated the investigation of anoxia on the Oregon shelf in Lab 8.

Highlight #2: This 9-minute video by WHOI presents related science questions about primary productivity at the shelf break front: It showcases science aboard a research vessel and briefly mentions the Pioneer array.

For possible extensions of these highlights, see the related Data Nuggets:

The Data Nuggets are curated data sets and visualizations from OOI and include direct access to the underlying data as well as Python notebooks for producing the visualizations. They are particularly suited for an advanced application in an introductory class or for an upper level oceanography course.

Lab 1.3

Latitude and Longitude should be introduced to the students.  You may also want to emphasize map projections, although we do not use these in this lab activity.  It’s always nice to start out with a large world map and then zoom in on a specific area.  Teach the students to pay attention to the scales since they will vary.  Most of the exercises in the lab include degrees and minutes, but not seconds because of the size of the images.  However, you may encourage them to be more specific to seconds or use a local nautical chart and have them find Lat/long for various locations.  Students often confuse direction or leave it off completely.  It is important to emphasize that numbers without a direction for a location mean nothing.  Perhaps give them some examples by providing lat/long degrees and minutes to a location without the direction to demonstrate that they may come up with different locations without the direction N,S,E,W.

In addition, you can provide lat/long for various locations and have them plot them on a paper map, or with various mapping software (GeoMapp app, Google earth, Google Maps, etc…  However, if they are using software, you will have to explain the conversion to decimal degrees as well as using negative numbers for South and West locations. There are various online converters to decimal degrees that students can use. As an extention of this activity and an introduction to using Google Earth with some basic plate tectonics go to Introduction to Google Earth and Plate Tectonics Activity

Associated resources

LAB-1-student-form can be used for students to write/type their answers and submit in class or online through your LMS.

Ocean Observatories Initiative website:

University of Washington Interactive Oceans website (focuses on the cabled array, lots of useful images and videos of instruments and research cruises):