Lifelong Learning Programme

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Title of the Experience
Ocean currents: water density and temperature
Name of the teacher
Chiara Cheti
Country where it took place
School typology
Vocational School
Thematic Area
Physics, Science
Experience typology
Teaching in class, Laboratory, Extracurricular activity
Type of contact
Description of the Experience
The study of Natural Science seems apparently easier compared with other disciplines because the topics carried out have been already treated by previous course of study. Problems arise when it is necessary not only to memorise, but to understand cross-disciplinary issues.
Activities in the laboratory and online researches help on this matter.
Students know ocean currents coming from the direct experience, but they do not manage to describe and correctly understand which factors cause them.
Physics helps, but it is quite impossible to teach these phenomenon through formulas and charts. Thanks to the activities in laboratory we have reached this goal and the students have discover that the density is not a simple formula to be applied, but it explains some day-life situation. Students have also understood that the differences of the temperatures are able to cause the ocean currents by conditioning the water density. In the same way, students have understood that also the different level of the water salinity can cause the ocean currents by influencing the water density. The experience is simple: take a bowl of water with a plexiglass tube inside fixed on the bottom of the bowl through a watertight cork by putty barrel; warm up a beaker with methylene blue colored water; after few minutes the solution of the beaker is hot enough to be put within the plexiglass tube. Now we can proceed lifting up slowly the tube and observing the phenomenon: the hotter liquid tends to move over a liquid of the same nature but colder than the first because of the minor density (according to the Archimede’s principle).
By the same way it is also possible to demonstrate the behaviour of liquids with different densities.
After the measuring of the density, it is quite simple to calculate the mass and the volume of liquids.

Comments on this Teachers Experience

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Date: 2014.11.06

Posted by Raúl V. Lerma (Spain)

The exercice helpsto illustrate the ocean currents and shows differences in density between warm and cold water.
I find this kind of approach to sciene very useful and facilitates easy understanding.
This practice is simple to reproduce and it does not require a lot of specific materials.


Dissemination Seminar in Florence

31 October 2015 The seminar has been held in ITIS “A. Meucci” one of the schools involved within Goerudio project activities. Its main aim was to promote the results of the project toward a broad sample of stakeholders even overcrossing the number of people directly involved in the production of project outcomes. This purpose has been totally achieved especially thanks to the participation of students and teachers coming from different schools or from other classes instead of those ones directly involved within the project activities.