A Drifter Lab Exercise

Our Vice president of Academic Affairs asked me the other day if the tsunami affected the motion of the drifters here in Monterey Bay. “Voile!” I thought, what a great idea for a lab. If our vice president thinks that the tsunami might have affected the drifters, then our students must have the same question. So I developed the lab linked below.

I developed the lab to generate interest in the motion of the drifters. My students started on this lab on Monday and will finish it today. What I’m realizing is that perhaps the main benefit will be that in order to understand why the tsunami did not affect the motion of the drifters, the students will have to internalize how waves move about in the ocean, that it is not the flow of water parcels, but rather the water parcels interacting with each other to cause a wave. Ships out at sea are not affected by tsunamis, and neither are our drifters.

A Word format of the lab is available here:

 It is also available on the MPC Oceanography website:


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar