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How do submarines work?

For this first lesson of Submarine Live 2022, we will learn how the submersibles used by Nekton Mission work. The submersibles used by the team can take scientists 1,000 metres down into the depths of the Indian Ocean. At these depths, the pressure is one hundred times more than at sea level.

Classes will learn about the different parts of the submersible, the materials they are made from, and why they are important. The second half of the lesson will look at the principle of buoyancy and how submarines rise and dive in the ocean.

Broadcast on Tue 27 Sept 2022
  • 45 mins
  • Ages 7-11 / KS2

This lesson is a great hook for making the study of materials choices and forces real and relevant for students.

There are three student sheets that can be downloaded for this lesson. You may want to print these out for students. For the investigation, groups of students will need the materials listed on the activity page. You may wish to practice this before doing it with the class.

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Lesson steps

1. Introduction (5 minutes)

We welcome classes to the expedition and location, meeting our guest speaker. This is also a chance to go over the learning for the lesson and cover digital housekeeping.

2. Speaking ‘boat’ (5 minutes)

Before we get started with learning about the submersibles used by the expedition, we will practise some nautical terms together. Working at sea requires learning a whole new language. How fluent will students be?

3. Different parts of a submersible (10 minutes)

One of the submersible pilots will take students through the different parts of the submersible, the materials used, and why they are important. Students will be able to record their learning using the accompanying Student Sheet.

4. Buoyancy investigation (10 minutes)

One of the most important things that a submersible needs to do is go up and down through the ocean. Thrusters are useful to travel carefully over the seafloor, but another system is needed to control the depth. We will work together through the buoyancy investigation and find out how submersibles can explore the ocean depths.

5. Q&A (15 minutes)

This is a chance for children to ask any questions they have about the submersible and the adventures in piloting a sub through the ocean. How do you even become a submersible pilot?

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Submarine Live 2019 Oliver Steeds

Oliver Steeds

Chief Executive & Mission Director, Nekton

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