Physics and chemistry middle school programme

The thematic sequence ‘Oceans and Climate’ is particularly pertinent to physics and chemistry class (6th grade/age 12). Sessions from the ‘Oceans and Humans’ sequence may be added to the sequence, so that the pupils’ progress is more comprehensive.

Below is an example of a 15-session program.



I.1 – Water reservoirs

Earth is known as the “blue planet” because it has large quantities of water. Pupils will understand that almost all (97%) of that water is saltwater, contained in seas and oceans.

I.2 – The water cycle

A documentary study shows that water constantly moves from one reservoir to the other, in the “water cycle”. In doing so, it can also change state, between liquid, solid and gas. The quantity of water on Earth remains constant.

I.3 - Thermal currents

Pupils consider what causes and maintains the ocean currents and use an experiment to ascertain that hot water is less dense than cold water.

I.4 –  Salinity currents

Pupils carry out an experiment to ascertain that saltwater is denser than freshwater. This difference in salinity can drive marine currents like the Gulf Stream.

I.5 - The thermal inertia of the oceans

Using an experiment showing the thermal inertia of the water and a documentary study, pupils demonstrate the role of the oceans in regulating the climate.

I.6 - Melting ice and rising sea level

Pupils carry out an experiment to ascertain that the melting of the ice floe does not cause ocean levels to rise, whereas the melting of continental glaciers does.
A documentary study demonstrates the fragility of certain world regions.

I.7 – Oceans thermal expansion and sea level rises

Pupils demonstrate the expansion of water under the effects of heat. They conclude that this is an additional factor in rising sea levels resulting from climate change.

I.8 - Colour and temperature: the importance of the ice floe

The pupils use a simple experiment to show that light-coloured surfaces heat up less under the effects of sunlight than dark-coloured surfaces do. They conclude that the ice floe plays an important role in regulating the global climate.

I.9 -  CO2 emissions and acidification of the oceans

The pupils will use an experiment to demonstrate that CO2 emissions lead to acidification of the oceans.

I.10 - Consequences of ocean acidification on living organisms

By studying coral bleaching and observing the dissolution of a shell in vinegar, the pupils will understand that the acidification of the oceans harms marine species, especially shellfish and corals.

III.3 -  Observing the oceans

Documents can be used to illustrate various means of observing the oceans and their utilisation in studying living things, managing risks, investigating the climate, etc.

III.7 - Producing energy from the ocean

Pupils make a turbine and study a document that discusses the various opportunities offered by the ocean to produce renewable energy.

III.9 - Maritime trades

Pupils discover, through documentary study, the different maritime livelihoods related to a variety of industries: transport, trade, leisure, food, energy, research, rescue services

III.10 - Project completion activity: the Ocean Charter

The aim of this session is to look back on what was learned about the relationship between humans and oceans. Pupils write up a charter for the oceans protection.

Assessment and summary session

As an evaluation and during an educational assessment activity (building a conceptual storyline), the pupils recall the different ideas seen in previous sessions.


<< Back to the pedagogical module

Project partners