Oceanography: Waves, Currents, & Tides

Lesson Title: Oceanography: Waves, Currents & Tides
Academic Standards: HS-PS3-4; HS-ESS2-2; HS-ESS2-5; HS-ESS3-4;
Content Creator: Mrs. Wendy Martin
Level: High School
Duration: 25-35 min
  /  Oceanography: Waves, Currents & Tides


  • Know the parts of a wave: crest, trough, wavelength.
  • Understand water movement in a wave.
  • Understand the difference between capillary waves and gravity waves.
  • Understand how waves change as they break onto shore.
  • Understand what causes a tsunami.
  • Define current.
  • Know the difference between a surface current and a deep current.
  • Define gyre.
  • Understand the density differences between cold water and warm water and how it affects currents.
  • Understand the moons effect on tides.
  • Difference in spring tides vs neap tides.


The waves of the ocean are in constant motion; rising and falling in varied rhythms. Ocean currents, both surface and deep, flow like rivers. And the level of the ocean rises and falls with daily tides. In this lesson students will learn about these powerful movements of the ocean. Students will experience in 360 VR, both a stormy ocean and a calm beach shoreline. Wave discussion will include the movement of water particles in a wave, the breaking of waves onto the shoreline and the power of a tsunami. Students will experience a 360* map of global winds and discuss how they affect ocean currents. And finally students will handle IFXs including the moon and Earth and see how movement can cause daily tides. Class ends with a virtual surfing experience.


  1. Take students to a 360 stormy ocean experience and have them focus on waves.
  2. Then take them on a 360 calm beach shoreline and have them focus in the wave movement.
  3. Discuss the parts of a wave: crest, trosugh, wavelength and wave height.
  4. On their whiteboards, have students label a wave.
  5. Discuss water movement in a wave and focus on the fact that the wave is energy moving through water. But the water molecules begin and end in same spot as wave passes.
  6. Discuss the difference between capillary waves and gravity waves.
  7. Discuss the changes that occur in the base and crest of a wave as it moves onto shore and breaks.
  8. Discuss causes of tsunamis and show 2D animation.
  9. Discuss cause of surface currents.
  10. Take students into a 360 map of the world showing the global wind patterns.
  11. Discuss how winds drive surface currents.
  12. Discuss what causes deeper currents.
  13. Using moon and earth IFXs show how they move in relation to one another.
  14. Discuss how the moon causes tidal movement.
  15. End with virtual surfing experience.

Demonstratives & Media

Classroom Space
Science Lab
Virtual Field Trips & Lab Demonstrations
Instructional Videos

Suggested Ancillary Support

I decorated the science lab like a tidal pool so i added a water plane, coral and sponges, fish, starfish, an octopus and seaweed throughout the room. Decorate as you would like.   Stormy ocean 360   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDdy61DK9ZQ Ocean waves 360   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekXnrTEgE64 Tsunami animation  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KB-TO5kq5Aw Ocean currents 360  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmXUmzgO168 Virtual surfing  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rz-wMLgxrU