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Grades K-2
In this lesson, you will share some ancient flood stories with the class and have them view pictures and discuss the evidence that’s been found in the Black Sea . Current theory says that during the Ice Age, the Black Sea was an isolated freshwater lake surrounded by farmland that eventually flooded. Students will practice their creative writing by composing stories about what it might have been like immediately before and during the flood.
Connections to the Curriculum:
Geography, world history
Connections to the National Geography Standards:
Standard 17: "How to apply geography to interpret the past"
Two hours

Materials Required:
  • Computer with Internet access
Students will
  • discuss the story of Noah's ark and other ancient flood stories;
  • discuss the evidence for a flood that has been found in the Black Sea; and
  • write stories about what it may have been like immediately before and during this flood.
Geographic Skills:

Acquiring Geographic Information
Organizing Geographic Information
Analyzing Geographic Information

S u g g e s t e d   P r o c e d u r e
Ask students if they know the story of Noah's ark. Have a few students share the story, explaining the sequence of events and why Noah had to build the ark.

Tell the class that many cultures have stories about great floods. Share a few of these stories with them, and point out the locations of the stories' origins on a world map. You can find short summaries of some flood stories at the National Geographic's Black Sea feature or at one of the links from's Myth-Flood page .

Do students think the stories sound similar to one another? Why do they think people in different parts of the world might all have developed stories about floods?

Inform students that some scientists are trying to find evidence of a large flood that occurred about 7,500 years ago and might be the famous flood mentioned in the Bible and other cultures' flood stories. Show them the Black Sea on a map, and explain that the scientists think this sea may have at one time been a land area but was buried under a giant flood.

Ask students what they would expect the scientists to be looking for under the water. What evidence would help the scientists determine whether the area covered by the Black Sea used to be land?

Have students look at the pictures taken from the deep sea remotely-operated vehicle on the Black Sea floor. Explain that these pictures show evidence of shipwrecks from several thousand years ago. These are just two of the areas the scientists have been able to find under the sea.

Tell the class that the scientists have also found evidence of buildings—perhaps houses—and of ceramic and stone tools.

Ask students to discuss, either in partners or as a class, what they think it might have been like before and during the flood for the people who lived in the area that is now the Black Sea. Since the students don't have much background on this time period, this should be a creative exercise to prepare them to write stories. They should use their imaginations to describe what things may have been like.
Suggested Student Assessment:
Have students write creative stories about the things scientists have discovered under the Black Sea. Their stories should be set in the time immediately before the flood, involve the people who lived in this region, and describe what may have happened when the flood came to their homes.
Extending the Lesson:
Have students look at these drawings and photographs of the deep-sea vehicles used to take pictures of the artifacts under the Black Sea. Have them pay particular attention to the DSL-120 and Jason, which is similar to Argus and Little Hercules, the remotely operated vehicles used in the Black Sea.

Explain that the pictures they saw were taken from a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), which is tied to the ship the scientists travel on.

Further explain that the ROV vehicles ( Argus and Little Hercules ) and the DSL-120 ("fish") use echoes (sonar) to find their way along the Black Sea floor. In fact, the main function of the DSL-120 is to use sonar to map the seafloor. Provide an introduction to sonar by explaining that this process involves sending sound down to the ocean floor and waiting for the sound to bounce back in different patterns. When this happens, the scientists use special equipment to turn the sound into pictures that show the "sound shadows" of the features of the ocean floor.

Just as students' own echoes might sound different in different parts of a room or valley, the deep-sea equipment "hears" echoes that sound different depending on which part of the ocean they are in. Shallower parts of the ocean produce different echoes than deeper places do. The equipment used to send and receive the sound is called sonar, and the process is called echolocation. Students can see a picture of a ship using sonar at Mapping the Ocean Floor with Echo Sounding .

Inform students that some animals, such as some bats and whales, use a similar method to find out what's around them. Have them research the echolocation systems of bats and/or whales and write paragraphs answering the question "How can animals help us learn how to explore the bottom of the ocean?"

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