The Dead Zone: A Marine Horror Story

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In this environmental science and data analysis activity, learners work in groups to track a Dead Zone (decreased dissolved oxygen content of a body of water) using water quality data from the Nutrient Enhanced Coastal Ocean Productivity (NECOP) Program. Learners use the dissolved oxygen data to construct a graph illustrating the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, practice data manipulation using Microsoft Excel (or graph paper), and recommend solutions for hypoxia, threatening marine life. This resource includes two links to optional follow up activities.

Quick Guide

  • Preparation Time: 5 to 10 minutes
  • Learning Time: 1 to 2 hours
  • Estimated materials cost: free
  • Age Range: Ages 14 - 18
  • Language: English

Materials List (per student)

  • Computer with Excel and Internet Access
  • Graphing paper (optional)
  • Pen or pencil (optional)

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
      • Atmosphere
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Ocean Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Cells
      • Chemistry of Life
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Populations
      • Energy Flow and Chemical Cycles
      • Biodiversity
      • Human Impact
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Number and Operations
    • Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • Chemistry
      • Oxidation-Reduction Reactions
      • Chemistry of Life
      • Solutions
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elements and Periodic Table
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
      • Public Policy
      • Ethics
    • The Scientific Process
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
      • Technology and the Environment

To use this activity learners need to

  • see
  • read
  • use keyboard
  • use mouse
  • touch

Learning styles supported

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities
Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of


Laura Rose


All Rights Reserved, Virginia Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program,

Funding sources

  • NOAA Sea Grant
  • National Marine Educators Association



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