Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11528

Have you gargled with salt water to soothe a sore throat? Did you swallow? Bleh! There are bodies of salt water all over. What lives there and how does salt get there? Try a salty hands-on experiment!


Earth Science

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Have you ever gotten a mouthful of ocean water? Was it pleasant? What exactly is in ocean water?

If you have ever been to the beach, you have probably gotten water from the ocean in your mouth and eyes.

What did the water taste like? What did it feel like when it got in your eyes? Also, what did your skin feel like after you got out of the ocean? Tell your teacher or parent.

You probably noticed seawater does not taste like a normal glass of water, and your eyes probably burned when you got the ocean water in them. You may have also noticed that your skin feels sticky after you get out of the ocean. This is because the ocean is full of salt. Salt gives the water a funny taste, burns your eyes, and can leave your skin feeling sticky.

The ocean has significantly more salt than what you pour on your vegetables at dinner.

  • Pour one liter of water into a glass or a container.
  • Then, measure seven even teaspoons of salt and pour the salt into the container.
  • Scientists estimate that for every liter of water in the ocean, there are about seven teaspoons of salt.
  • To paint a better picture, it would take three large shipping containers full of salt to make an Olympic-sized swimming pool as salty as the ocean (University of Waikato).

The amount of salt in the ocean can vary by location. To find out why salinity, or the amount of salt in water, varies by location, read the article Ocean salinity (Science Learning Hub). When you finish reading the article, tell your teacher or parent why salinity varies by location.

The ocean's saltiness is caused when minerals are eroded. These minerals are deposited into the ocean through weathering. To learn more about this process, read Why is the ocean salty? (National Ocean Service). When you finish reading the article, explain to your teacher or parent how salt gets into the ocean.

Finally, read Salinity (NASA). As you read the article, answer the following questions:

  1. How does salt get into the ocean?
  2. What regions have high salinity levels?
  3. How do scientists measure salinity?
  4. How does rainfall affect salinity readings?

When you have finished reading the article and answering the questions, discuss your answers with your teacher or parent. Then, move on to the Got It? section to experiment with salinity.

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