Middle School Earth Science Teacher Guide


Features 13 core activities covering the fundamental topics of weather & climate, seismology & topography, soil properties and more.

Mapping the Ocean Floor

Lab Summary

Use a motion sensor to scan a cross-section of a simulated ocean floor terrain.


In this activity, students use a motion sensor to create several features of an “ocean floor” using books, toys, et cetera. Students will be able to draw several parallels between the operation of the motion sensor and the concepts of sonar, radar, and echo sounding, among others.

Students investigate how to use a motion sensor to map an area while they:

  • Analyze and draw inferences from a graph of Position versus Time
  • Evaluate the feasibility of studying and using certain seafloor structures
  • Apply their knowledge of motion sensor technology to the concept of sonar, radar, and echo sounding
  • Analyze their experimental results to determine why they appear “different” than an actual profile of the ocean floor


Students gain experience conducting the following procedures:

  • Simulating the variety of terrain found on an ocean floor with objects from the classroom
  • Using the motion sensor to scan a cross-section of the simulated ocean floor terrain

Sensors / Equipment Used:

PASPORT Motion Sensor


The PASPORT Motion Sensor accurately measures position, velocity, and acceleration of a target. Can be used to track the motion of carts, balls, people and more.

Your Bundle Options:

Option 1:

Middle School Earth Science Starter Bundle


The equipment bundle for teaching 11 of the 13 Middle School Earth Science Teacher Guide's labs.

Option 2:

Middle School Science Standard Sensor Bundle


This bundle contains the probeware needed to perform all 49 lab activities in the Middle School Science through Inquiry lab manual.

Interface Required

This experiment may require software and an interface for data collection.