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Activities for 3rd - 5th Graders


Hydrothermal vents are hot springs on the bottom of the ocean that vent hot (up to 400°C), metal laden waters called hydrothermal fluids

Hydrothermal Vents Coloring Book

A comprehensive coloring book for elementary school age children. Children will learn about hydrothermal vent communities and gain a basic understanding of seafloor hydrothermal processes. 

Please email us your student’s artwork and we will make an effort to post it with your child’s first name and grade on our Facebook page!


Children learn about the importance of plankton and become familiar with some of the plankton that are commonly observed in Monterey Bay, CA.


Find out what we found in a few drops of water:

Plankton - Drifters of the Sea

Phytoplankton (microscopic marine algae)

Phytoplankton are much like tiny plants that use photosynthesis to convert CO2 and sunlight into nutrients.

They have chloroplasts just like plants do, which give them their greenish color. 

Phytoplankton ID coloring guide

Zooplankton (animal - plankton)

Zooplankton are the animals of the plankton kingdom. They are generally much larger then phytoplankton. 

They eat mostly phytoplankton, but sometimes other zooplankton!

Zooplankton ID Coloring Guide

Plankton Activity Pages
  1. Zooplankton identification game: Connect the larval stage to the adult animal with a line. Click here  Larval matching game
  2. Circle all of the zooplankton. A small fish is hungry and needs help finding zooplankton in the plankton “soup”. Color the plankton but only draw a circle around the zooplankton. Click her for a printable pdf: Find the zooplankton
  3. Identify phytoplankton. We classify phytoplankton into 3 major groups. Draw lines connection each individual to the appropriate group. Click here for a printable pdf: Phytoplankton ID

Please send us your artwork and we will endeavor to post it with your first name and grade on our Facebook page. 

Plankton commonly found in Monterey Bay: Hover over the image to find out more about it!


Radiolarian Zooplankton: Radiolarians are protozoans. Their shell is made up of silica. Extensions of the radiolarian's cytoplasm helps it to catch food that floats by.


Veliger Zooplankton: Veliger is the planktonic larval stage of snails and most clams.


Dinophysis Phytoplankton: Dinoflagellate


Akashiwo: Phytoplankton: A photosynthetic dinoflagellate. Blooms will cause red tides.


Zoea Zooplankton: a zoea is a larval stage in the life cycle of crabs. This stage is between the nauplius and the megalop stages. The zoea larva has a large dorsal spine and 2 lateral spines.


Chaetoceros Phytoplankton: Chaetoceros is a centric diatom. It is the most abundant genus of diatoms in the ocean. Cells form chains with long setae projections from the corners of the cells.


Jelly Zooplankton


Pseudo-Nitzschia Phytoplankton: A pennate diatom. Some species are capable of producing domoic acid (a neurotoxin). When small fish feed on blooms the toxin is transferred up the food web and can cause death of marine mammals.


Asteromphalus Phytoplankton: Centric diatom.


Calanoid Copepod Zooplankton: Holoplankton. Calanoid Copepods are the dominant animals in the plankton and therefore important primary consumers. They consume phytoplankton and are consumed by higher trophic level predators.


Prorocentrum Phytoplankton: Photosynthetic Dinoflagellate.

Copepod Nauplius

Copepod Nauplius Zooplankton / Holoplankton Copepods are tiny crustaceans that have a larval stage. The egg hatches into the nauplius form from where it molts several times until it reaches its adult form.


Noctiluca Phytoplankton: Dinoflagellate Noctiluca is a free-living bioluminescent dinoflagellate. It has one flagellum, is non-photosynthetic and of rather large size (200 - 2,000 microns). It is a heterotroph that feeds by engulfing (phagocytosis) its food (diatoms, fish eggs, bacteria and even other dinoflagellates).

Polychaete Larvae

Zooplankton: Meroplankton translucent, motile marine worm larvae which eventually outgrows its planktonic stage.

Barnacle Nauplius

Barnacle Nauplius Zooplankton: Meroplankton Larval planktonic stage 2 - 4 weeks. Barnacles are arthropods. The barnacle egg hatches into a one-eyed nauplius. The nauplius will molt 6 times before reaching its Cyprid stage which is the last stage before adulthood during which the barnacle will settle head first onto substrate.

Pluteus (Sea urchin larva)

Pluteus Zooplankton: Pluteus is the larval stage of of sea urchins.

Trochophore larva

Early Polychaete Worm Larva Zooplankton:


Tropidoneis Phytoplankton Diatom


Eucampia Diatom Phytoplankton Monterey Species: Zoodiacus


Bryozoan larva Zooplankton Bryozoan cyphonaute


Cosindiscus phytoplankton diatom disc shaped cells, one of the largest...


Learn about different food chains that comprise the marine food web. 

  1. Coloring page illustrating the importance and abundance of plankton. Click here for a printable pdf: Primary Producers
  2. Coloring page shoeing the food web near the surface. Click here for a printable pdf: Epipelagic zone food web
  3. Coloring page of the marine food web: Click here for a printable pdf: Marine Food Web
  4. Predator and prey matching activity. Color the animals and draw a line to their food source. An answer key can be found on the second page of the printable pdf. Children are encouraged to draw examples of primary producers, primary consumers, secondary consumers, tertiary consumers, and quaternary consumers into the spaces provided. Click here for a printable pdf: Matching Game 

Enjoy this spectacular video of the TOP 10 Deep Sea Animals from MBARI ( Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute). You may recognize some of theses animals in our food web activity pages. 


ROV operation relies heavily on our understanding of buoyancy. An ROV should be close to neutrally buoyant meaning it should neither float nor sink. To make this happen, ROVs need flotation on top. This prevents the ROV from sinking and placement of flotation on top keeps the ROV upright in the water, preventing it from tumbling about. The following activity is designed to help children learn what exactly makes an object swim or sink in water. For a fun way to gain a basic understanding of the concept, we encourage you to watch Bill Nye the Science Guy’s YouTube video “Buoyancy”



Please watch the following 3.5 minute long YouTube video with your child to gain a basic understanding of what we're about to accomplish in our "buoyancy activity"

Exploring Buoyancy

Please watch the following 3.5 min. long YouTube video with your child to gain a basic understanding of what we’re about to accomplish in our “buoyancy activity”.

Foil Boat Activity:

For this activity you will need the folowing:
  • Aluminum foil squares (at summer camp we use the pre-cut food service type foil which is on the flimsy side and all pieces are exactly the same size). You can use whatever you have at home, just check the width of your roll and then pull out enough to make a square.
  • A tub/bucket or just the kitchen sink filled with water.
  • the content of your piggy bank – just a bunch of coins or metal washers if you have any in your tool-box.

How does volume (shape) of the aluminum foil square affect buoyancy? Give your child a piece of foil (please reuse or recycle the used square after completion of the activity) and have her or him build a boat. Now place the boat on the surface of your filled water container (bucket or sink) and add one coin at a time, try to distribute the coins evenly throughout the hull to the boat to prevent it from tipping over. For simplicity’s sake, you may want to use just one type of coin for this activity. Once the boat sinks, retrieve it and have your child redesign the boat and try again. If you have more than one “engineer” participating, this activity can be a competition. Whose boat holds the most coins before it sinks? At camp we use washers and one camper was able to pile 114 medium sized washers (about the size of a quarter) into her boat! Discuss with your child what design worked best and why.

Finding Neutral Buoyancy Activity

This activity is suitabe for elementary and middle school aged children.


  1. A water-tight container such as a small Tubberware dish
  2. A bucket or tub filled with water
  3. Coins: nickels, pennies, and quaters
  4. A calculator (optional)

The goal is to make the tupperware container neutrally buoyant. In this activity this will be accomplished by trial and error. Have your student add several coins to the container, place it in water and observe whether it is positively (floats on the surface), negatively (sinks to the bottom), or neutrally buoyant (stays suspended in the water column). The goal is to find the right combination of coins to make the container neutrally buoyant. Once this is accomplished middle school aged children are invited to calculate the the total mass of the coins that were necessary to make the container neutrally buoyant, using the attached worksheet: Buoyancy Force Calculation


We learned that the upward force equals the weight of the displaced volume of water. Since salt water weighs more (it has salt dissolved in it) than fresh water, the upward force of saltwater is greater then that of fresh water. 


To demonstrate this, place an egg in a cup of tap water and then add salt to the water, observe what happens.

It should take about 2 tablespoons of salt to make the egg float in 6 oz. of water. Make sure the salt is fully dissolved. 


This activity is designed with younger children in mind. Kids are invited to be creative, think outside the box, and come up with an imaginary fish, living in an imaginary environment, showcasing real world adaptations that make it successful in its unique habitat. We hope the following activity will spark your child’s imagination.

Background Information about the effects of body shape and fin shape on swimming speed


For this activity you will need the following materials: Print-out of pdf, color pencils, glue stick, scissors.

Let’s”build your very own fish. Think of what your fish should be able to do; what your fish’s habitat is like and what your fish should look like. Is it colorful? Click here for a printable pdf. Cut out the different shapes, arrange them on a blank piece of paper as you see fit and glue them together to make your own fish. Color your fish and tell your fish’s story. Don’t see what your\’re looking for? Just create your won shape!

Based on what you know about fish, draw a picture of a pet fish. Click here for your fish bowl

We would love to see your artwork!


Most carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere through human industrial processes. About 1/4 of this carbon dioxide gets absorbed by the ocean. The ocean’s absorption of the carbon dioxide was originally looked at as a positive because it was thought to slow the process of global warming seen in the atmosphere. It was soon discovered that this surplus of carbon dioxide was actually dangerous for our oceans as well. The increase in carbon dioxide causes the ocean to be much more acidic. This is because the number of free hydrogen ions in seawater increases as carbon dioxide reacts with seawater.  According to, over the last 200 years, the ocean has become about 30% more acidic. So what exactly happens to the ocean’s ecosystems when acidity increases and why does it matter? Well, we can make a comparison to what happens to humans. According to the Smithsonian Institution Average human blood pH ranges between 7.35 and 7.45. A change in the pH of as little as 0.2-0.3 can cause seizures, comas, and even death. Similarly, a small change in the pH of seawater can have harmful effects on marine life. As you have seen in the video, lower pH levels erode the shells of clams, oysters, sea urchins, and snails to name a few. The following activity, albeit an exaggeration since seawater is and will remain alkaline, illustrates the effect of acid on the calcium carbonate shells of animals. Furthermore, lowering the pH of seawater lowers carbonate ion concentrations. Some of the carbonate ions that bond with calcium to form calcium carbonate (the building block of shells), instead bind with free hydrogen to form bicarbonate. This causes corals for example, to have a much more difficult time growing and rebuilding their calcium carbonate skeletons.


  • 2 containers (cups)
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 oz. cold water
  • 12 oz. white vinegar
  • printout of pdf

Put one egg in a cup filled with water, the other in a cup filled with vinegar. Cover your cups or containers with a lid or some wax paper and let stand at room temperature. Check in the mornings and evenings and write down your observations. After about 24 hours you may have to replace your vinegar with fresh vinegar. After 2 days, carefully remove your egg from the liquid and rinse with water. 

what happened to the egg?

The calcium carbonate shell of the egg dissolved.

Acetic Acid (vinegar is diluted acetic acid) dissolved the calcium carbonate shell of the egg completely. The bubbles you observed on the shell were carbon dioxide gas which is released in the reaction: 

CaCO3 + 2HC2H3O2 - Ca(C2H3O2)2 + H2O = CO2

The "naked" egg will be very delicate because it is held together by a semi permeable membrane only. Notice that the egg may be larger now. This is because some of the water may have entered the egg by a process called osmosis. 

Osmosis Activity


Watch the video to proceed with your egg experiment. 

The naked egg and osmosis