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6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type

  • Videos, 5 minutes, 34 seconds

Regional Focus



Downloadable MP4/M4V

The Ocean's Green Machines

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  • This video provides information on phytoplankton, the microscopic photosynthetic organisms that live throughout the ocean.
  • Students will learn how warming ocean waters are affecting phytoplankton populations and how decreases in phytoplankton affect the ocean food web and the ocean's ability to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen.
Teaching Tips


  • The video features easy-to-follow narration and simple animated graphics.
  • Students will make the connection between the phytoplankton population and the health of the ocean ecosystem.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with the terms nutrients, photosynthesis, and carbon sinks.
  • The graphics in the video are dated, but the information in the video remains valid.


  • The video can be integrated into a lesson on CO2 emission rise and the impact on ocean ecosystems, specifically on food webs and biodiversity within those ecosystems.
  • Students could research how scientists gather data about phytoplankton from satellites and what pattern that data shows.
  • Other resources on this topic include this lesson on carbon sequestration methods, this experiment on how plants absorb carbon dioxide in water, and this video on the role of whales in fighting climate change.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a well-produced and well-presented 6-minute video that describes the roles that phytoplankton play in our ocean and earth ecosystems. Experts are interviewed and animations are included that demonstrate and show the topics being discussed. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • 7.LS2.1 Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
      • HS.LS2.5 Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
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