Oceanography!

Tonight Troop 60 Scouts started work on the Oceanography merit badge and completed experiments! 97% of the water on earth is in the oceans, and there are many reasons why it’s important that we know about and understand the vital role oceans play on our habitable planet.

Scouts started by playing with double-stuffed oreos as models of tectonic plates, trying to shift their cookie to create oceanic ridges, seamounts, guyots, canyons, volcanoes, and other aspects of underwater topography as shown on their handouts. (And of course they got to eat the results!)

Scouts were then challenged to discover the relationship between salinity, temperature, and density by floating a hard-boiled egg. Each pair created a hypothesis (cold water; hot water; cold water plus salt; hot water plus salt) and then tested their hypotheses:

Scouts adjusted their testing until they could float their eggs. We talked about how circulation and currents affect water temperature, density, and salinity as well as weather and climate.

Finally, the Troop made a wave generator and, after discussing the various types of ocean movement and waves, experimented with different methods of creating beaches with the “sea floor” sand while emulating ocean movement (no cheating!). Once they created consistent tidal waves and a smooth slope “beach,” they explored what happens to waves and underwater topography when jetties and breakwaters are introduced to the system.

We closed the meeting by talking about the four branches of oceanography and the unique situation on the Louisiana coast, where wetland loss greatly affects the coastline and saltwater intrusion into freshwater coastal areas further decreases the wetland environment that helps protect the southern coast from hurricanes, storm surges, and other ocean-related weather intensity.

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