Monitor National Marine Sanctuary offers a variety of free resources for educators. Resources include social studies activities, as well as science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) activities, lesson plans, and guides. Upon request, the sanctuary staff offers free in-school programs on a variety of topics for the K-12 audience. Free educator workshops for school staff can also be scheduled year round.
Each section below is filled with STEM activities, lesson plans, and games. Explore the Civil War and USS Monitor, World War I, World War II, Shipwrecks and STEM, Wrecks as Reefs, the Outer Banks Maritime Heritage Trail, and more.
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Civil War and the USS Monitor
The USS Monitor and NOAA: A Look Through Time Video
Travel back to 1862 in this educational video to learn how the USS Monitor turned the tide of
the Civil War. Learn about the discovery of the shipwreck in 1973, the site's designation as the first
national marine sanctuary, and the recovery of major iconic artifacts and how they are being conserved
today. Included are efforts to identify two Monitor sailors' remains and their burial
at Arlington National Cemetery. Funding for this video was provided in part by NOAA & The Preserve
America Initiative. (Grade 4 to Adult)
Click here to view the Monitor video on YouTube
USS Monitor Legacy Website
Visit the legacy website for an in depth look at the USS Monitor and the ship's crew, and to find out what's happening today.
USS Monitor Curriculum – Grades 4-8
Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, in partnership with The Mariners' Museum and Park, is excited to provide this guide on the USS Monitor and the lasting impact this innovative ship left on naval history. The comprehensive guide explores the tensions surrounding the Civil War, the transitions from wood to iron ships, and Monitor today. Although designed to be taught as a unit, each lesson can be used independently or lessons can be combined in multiple ways to create a curriculum tailored just for your students. Click here to download your copy of USS Monitor: Discovering and Exploring America's Most Historic Ironclad
Activities for Grades 6-12
Putting the Pieces Together
Maritime archaeologists use photographic images to help them study shipwrecks. In this activity, students learn how photomosaics are created and their importance in documenting a shipwreck when they use this 1974 photomosaic image of the USS Monitor.
Sleuthing Through 1862
Students become detectives and use various clues to discover the identity of a sailor whose remains were discovered on a fictitious Civil War shipwreck..
Lights, Cameras, Action
The Battle of Hampton Roads was one of the greatest battles in naval warfare. It was the first time iron met iron. In this activity, students discover how the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia were developed, engineered, and constructed, and learn the ultimate, long-reaching outcome of the Battle of Hampton Roads. Students will present their findings with supporting evidence in a music video created with Animoto or other media programs.
Drum Beats of the Drummer Boys
During the Civil War, boys as young as nine years of age wanted to go to war. Often these young boys enlisted as drummer boys. This activity focuses on the role of the drummer boy and the challenges he faced.
A Look Through Time
Explore how the introduction of ironclad ships affected the outcome of naval battles, a naval blockade, as well as changing naval history. Research the building and naval actions of the first ironclad ships and create a timeline of the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia from conception to sinking. Use of LiveBinders and TimeToast is optional.
Growing the Family Tree
In 2002, the remains of two sailors were found during the excavation of the Monitor's turret. In this activity, discover how NOAA is trying to identify these remains and how forensics will play a role. Also, learn about genealogy and trace your own family tree.
When Johnny Comes Marching Home
During the Civil War, music played a huge role. Sailors, soldiers, slaves, and men, women, and children of all ages sang songs that told the story of their hardships, love of country, sweethearts, battles they fought, and more. Delve into the music of the 1860s to learn how songs helped to bind people together.
The Civil War in Review Crossword Puzzle
Students will use the knowledge they learned about the Civil War to complete the crossword puzzle.
Test Your USS Monitor Knowledge
See how many correct answers your students can get on this crossword puzzle.
Test your students' knowledge of the USS Monitor as they try to answer all the questions in a row or diagonal to win at this Bingo game.
Clash of Armor
A middle school social studies activity highlighting the Battle of Hampton Roads. (Courtesy of The Mariners' Museum and Park)
A high school chemistry activity where students learn about conserving artifacts recovered from Monitor. (Courtesy of NOAA's National Ocean Service.)
Learn the history of the USS Monitor and how NOAA works to protect its legacy and honors the men who served on it. This presentation aimed at grades 2-6 not only tells the history of the USS Monitor, but also discusses NOAA's use of cutting edge science to preserve this iconic piece of Civil War history. In addition, it highlights NOAA's efforts to protect this fragile national treasure and its history above and below the waves. The webinar runs 67 minutes with moderated questions and answers throughout.
For additional webinars on a variety of topics, visit NOAA Live!
World War I Curriculum Guide
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Austria-Hungary set off a chain reaction of defense alliances that led Europe into war in 1914. On April 6, 1917, the United States joined the Allies to fight in World War I. It was not long before German U-boats began to prowl the waters off the East Coast in search of ships to sink. In this guide, students are introduced to the Great War; will understand why the U.S. abandoned its ideas of isolationism; learn what life was like both on the front lines and at home; and discover how German U-boats came to North Carolina's coast. Although designed to be taught as a unit, each lesson can be used independently or lessons can be combined in multiple ways to create a curriculum tailored just for your students.
World War II Curriculum Guide
On September 3, 1939, Britain declared war on Germany, and the Battle of the Atlantic began. It was the longest and perhaps most bitterly fought battle of World War II. The battle spanned the Atlantic Ocean and was waged against Allied ships, mostly by German submarines called U-boats. Once the U.S. entered the war in 1941, U-boats began to attack ships all along the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, but it was off the coast of North Carolina where the war truly came home. In this guide, students are introduced to the causes of World War II, learn the importance of the Battle of Atlantic, and determine the role North Carolina played in the battle during 1942. They also explore life on the home front during the war, learn about the U.S. Merchant Marine as unsung heroes, and discover how NOAA works to preserve our nation's maritime heritage. Although designed to be taught as a unit, each lesson can be used independently, or lessons can be combined in multiple ways to create a curriculum tailored just for your students.
Shipwrecks and STEM
This curriculum introduces students to the world of NOAA and its Maritime Heritage Program. Students learn (1) why shipwrecks are important, (2) the tools used to study shipwrecks, (3) about the complex and costly process of recovering and conserving artifacts, and (4) how NOAA works to protect our maritime heritage. Although the curriculum is designed to be taught as a unit, each lesson can stand on its own. The lessons are aligned with national standards.
This high school activity engages students in teamwork as "divers" to create sectioned, scaled drawings of a mock shipwreck. They make connections to maritime history, mathematics, and technology.
- Log Sheets Port 10 Units
- Log Sheets Starboard 10 Units
- Log Sheets Port 12 Inches
- Log Sheets Starboard 12 Inches
Check out this excellent manual to get you started building your own underwater robot. The manual includes a detailed list of ROV parts and pieces and where to find them. (Courtesy of Doug Levin, NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office).
This curriculum introduces middle and high school students to ROVs and careers in marine science and underwater archaeology. Students use problem based learning and hands-on STEM activities to solve real world problems, while learning about the engineering design process. Curriculum can be used in its entirety or activities can be used independently.
Wrecks as Reefs
A middle school lesson that highlights shipwrecks as artificial reefs. Students conduct a mock biological survey of fish populations using practiced methods of visual census transects and stationary quadrats. Students apply and practice data sampling, collection, and analysis techniques.
- Benthic Cutouts
- Fish Cutouts
- Log Sheets Port 10 Units
- Log Sheets Starboard 10 Units
- Log Sheets Port 12 Inches
- Log Sheets Starboard 12 Inches
Outer Banks Maritime Heritage Trail
Students experience the unique maritime culture of the Outer Banks, North Carolina, when they watch one, or all 11, video clips and listen to the oral histories of those who experienced World War II on the shores of the Outer Banks. Each video is accompanied by supporting activities and a set of focus questions, to be answered while the students view the video and/or listen to the oral histories.
- Outer Banks Maritime Heritage Trail Videos and Oral Histories
- Outer Banks Maritime Heritage Trail Activity Guide
A high school oceanography activity where students compare information from the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary data buoy to other data buoys located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
- Monitor Data Buoy #41025
- Motion of the Ocean
- Motion of the Ocean Worksheet
- Motion of the Ocean Worksheet Answers
Middle school students discover how carbon dioxide makes the ocean more acidic while discussing its effect on marine ecosystems.
Elementary students discover the detrimental effects of marine debris on ocean ecosystems and discuss how the presence of marine debris in food supplies can increase over time through a probability experiment.
Education List Serve
Join our education list serve to receive updates on sanctuary activities, the latest in information on shipwrecks and important marine science issues, educational resources, useful websites, career and job opportunities in marine science, and more. To subscribe, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "education email list subscription" in the subject line.
Single copies of various posters are available while supplies last. To find out which posters are currently available, please contact email@example.com.
Archived newsletters that tell the story of Monitor's recovery and conservation from 1982 to 2003.
- Cheesebox Vol. 1 No. 1
- Cheesebox Vol. 2 No. 2
- Cheesebox Vol. 3 No. 1
- Cheesebox Vol. 4 No. 1
- Cheesebox Vol. 5 No. 1
- Cheesebox Vol. 6 No. 1
- Cheesebox Vol. 7 No. 1
- Cheesebox Vol. 8 No. 1
- Cheesebox Vol. 9 No. 1
- Cheesebox Vol. 9 No. 2
- Cheesebox Vol. 10 No. 1
- Cheesebox Vol. 11 No. 1
- Cheesebox Vol. 12 No. 1
- Cheesebox Vol. 13 No. 1
Check out some of the free stuff available for download!
Download USS Monitor 150th Anniversary Poster.
Download USS Monitor Bookmarks.
Immerse yourself in the ocean and your national marine sanctuaries without getting wet! These virtual reality voyages use 360-degree images to highlight the amazing habitats, animals, and cultural resources you can find in each national marine sanctuary.
Ocean Guardian Programs
Ocean Guardian programs encourage children to explore their natural surroundings to form a sense of personal connection to the ocean and/or watersheds in which they live.