Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology JPL HOME EARTH SOLAR SYSTEM STARS & GALAXIES SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY BRING THE UNIVERSE TO YOU JPL Email News RSS Podcast Video
JPL Banner
Ocean Surface Topography from Space
Class Activities
Class Activities
There are a variety of activities available below including Make Your Own El Niño in the Classroom, which in less than 5 minutes provides a hands-on demonstration of the El Niño effect using water, mineral oil, food coloring, and a hair dryer. The El Niño Skit is for primary grades and shows students how an El Niño "works". It uses from five to seven students. A more advanced activity, Making 3-D models of TOPEX/Poseidon Sea Surface Topography Images involves cutting out layers of foam-type poster boards and assembling and painting them to match two TOPEX/Poseidon satellite images of sea-surface height.

Also, the Classroom Activities section from the Visit to an Ocean Planet CD-ROM, has been included here. It contains activities to demonstrate scale and structure, measurement, energy, systems and interactions, process and change, and human interactions against climate, oceans, and life. These activities were provided by various educational organizations and educators. Each of the links below is given an "Audience Rating" to help you can find just the material you're looking for.

Audience: T = Teacher materials, G = General public, Kids = grades K-8, Y = Young adults and grades 9-12, U = Undergrads, S = Scientists and Graduate students

Audience Material Contributor

E/PO stories and articles

OST E/PO team
T, Kids

A Jason-1 Oceanic Adventure - Voyage on the High Seas - a board game with information/classroom activities on back. PDF version available.

TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1 Outreach Team, JPL
the Space Place


Classroom activities from VTOP CD - Standards-based activities in Oceans, Climate, and Life from the highly-acclaimed Visit to an Ocean Planet educational CD. Activities are in PDF format and are suitable for Grades 6-12.

TOPEX/Poseidon Project Office, JPL


Making 3-D models of TOPEX/Poseidon Sea Surface Topography Images

Bob Perry and Robin Baltrushes, Malibu High School, UCLA OceanGLOBE

All, T

El Niño demonstration - see how an an El Niño works. Using common household items, this simple demo makes the phenomena understandable. (PDF version (PDF, 58 KB) also available)

Kelly Perry (JPL)
Johan Berlin (Raytheon)
James Kendall (JPL)
Ruby Krishnamurti (Florida State University)

El Niño Skit - for primary grades. (PDF version (PDF, 283 KB) also available)

Annie Richardson, JPL
Kids, Y, T

Ocean World - on-line resources for educators, information about useful books, links to lesson plans and classroom activities

Texas A&M University


Teaching the Physics and Math of Oceanography Using Satellite Data

University of Washington/ Northwest School in Seattle

On-line tutorial - the basics of altimetry and TOPEX/Poseidon

TOPEX/Poseidon Project Office, JPL


Links to Education web pages and more education web pages

TOPEX/Poseidon Project Office, JPL and Texas A&M University

Satellite orbit visualization - TOPEX/Jason tandem mission animation: Ocean altimetry satellites in action

Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Educational Outreach at JPL

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Link to
Site Manager: Margaret Srinivasan
Webmaster: Kristy Kawasaki
JPL Clearance: CL01-1707