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The Kid Should See This

How do ocean currents work?

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In 1992, a cargo ship carrying bath toys got caught in a storm. Shipping containers washed overboard, and the waves swept 28,000 rubber ducks and other toys into the North Pacific. But they didn’t stick together — the ducks have since washed up all over the world.

These ducks and their worldwide adventure unexpectedly helped researchers chart how ocean currents work. In this TED-Ed by Jennifer Verduin, directed by Cabong Studios, we learn how surface currents, deep ocean currents, wind, salt, gyres, the Coriolis Effect, and other powerful factors affect how water moves around the planet.

rubber ducks ocean currents

• Ocean Plastics Academy: A variety of curriculum resources—multimedia and hands-on activities—for ages 5-16.
• TRASH TALK webinar: This video demonstration for teachers shares activities for all ages, part of NOAA’s World Ocean Day series.
• Engineering A Fix For The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a grade 6-8 Science Friday activity.
• Mapping Ocean Currents, a grade 3-8 activity from National Geographic
• Follow the Friendly Floatees, a grade 6-8 activity from National Geographic

Related reading from What is the global ocean conveyor belt? And at Yale Environment 360: How Climate Change Could Jam The World’s Ocean Circulation.

Then watch these videos next:
The Infinite Now, a series of oceanscape cinemagraphs
• Fate adrift: Max Mulhern’s Aqua Dice
• The Basics of Freshwater + Water, Water, Everywhere?
• How did Polynesian wayfinders navigate the Pacific Ocean?

Also: Researching the impact of sunken shipping containers.

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