Global Currents

Steve Elci
January 11, 2017

Have you ever wondered what NESS educators teach in the classroom? Take a look at what students were learning last week at Ocean Beach Park! 

The 6th Grade STEM students at BDJMS are excited to one again jump into NESS programming after the long holiday break. Last Thursday, they headed to Ocean Beach to learn about Global Ocean Currents! As they arrived at Ocean Beach, students were immediately split into three rotating groups to test the speed of the water at Alewife Cove, explore and test the effects of density using salt and fresh water, and examine the effects of wind on water.

It was a cold day but that did not curb the students’ enthusiasm! With the help of the NESS SEA AmeriCorps educators, success is achieved on all levels. One example of success was when students demonstrated the effects of wind over the water by blowing through a straw to simulate the wind. In the water was brightly colored food dye to provide a visual for the water movement as it passed by a rock that simulated a land mass. The students saw the effects happen right before their own eyes and were able to see the patterns of swirling water currents in the tiny container model!

By the end of their experiments, students were able to:

  • define current and gyre
  • understand the concept of surface currents and deep ocean currents
  • collect data and calculate currents in local areas
  • describe the process of a global conveyor belt and thermal convection.

Why should we study Ocean currents in New London, CT? Studying and collecting data on ocean currents helps scientists better understand weather patterns and ocean temperatures. Tracking the currents provides important information relating to climate change and pollution. When we know where the water flows, scientists are sometimes able to predict the flow plastics and marine debris!

To find out more information about marine debris, check out the Rozalia Project ( or A Plastic Ocean (