Lunar and Planetary Institute






Education and Public Outreach

Around and Round: Lunar Phases, Planetary Orbits, and Seasons

Tides Resources

There are a variety of details in understanding tides. For elementary students, simply understanding what tides are and their frequency is appropriate (each day typically has two high tides and two low tides). Tying this to a model of gravity and the Moon’s motion and phases to understand tides really shouldn’t be done until the students are at least in 8th grade — this requires a detailed understanding of the relationship between the Sun, Earth, and Moon and applying the concept of gravity. 

Each of these concepts has a variety of possible misconceptions. Students with less experience with the oceans and deltas are likely to confuse simple waves or even tsunamis with tides.  Students are very likely to also have misconceptions about gravity and the Moon’s phases.

Dance of the Moon
In this kinesthetic activity, students discover how the Moon's gravitational pull causes the level of the ocean to rise and fall twice a day along most coastlines, as they represent the oceans, solid Earth, Moon, and Sun and move their bodies to show the interactions of these elements.

Tide Activity
Students are asked to graph 5 days of tide data from two different locations, and compare the height of the tides, in this section of pages by the Missouri Botanical Garden.

NOAA What are Tides Video
This simple animation shows tides rising and falling; it can be used for multiple grade levels.

Video Bay of Fundy
This video shows a tidal cycle at the Bay of Fundy.

SERC Tides
This includes a variety of visualizations about tides and how they work; some are more appropriate for middle school through college.

Changing Tides Time Laps Video
This video by Chris Sparks uses time lapse photography to speed up the process of high tide coming in at the beach.  There is no narration or music, only the sound of the water and waves.

Tides by StudyJams
Learn more about tides with this cartoon animation from StudyJams.  The beginning is appropriate for elementary students, but some of the details are at a middle school level.

US Tides Data
Data is available in the form of a graph for stations along US coasts, selection by maps.

What are tides?  NDBC Science Education
This section from the National Data Buoy Center describes tides and shows a plot of tides; the level is more appropriate for middle school.

NOAA Tides and Currents
This section has a variety of information, appropriate for the high school level.