Sea State: Forecast Conditions at Sea

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In this oceanography and data collection activity, learners cast real time sea state conditions using buoys from NOAA's National Data Buoy Center. Learners locate four buoy stations on a map and then access the online sea state conditions to record on a data table. Learners record date and time of the latest observation, wind speed, and wave height and convert units. Then learners compare the observed wind speed to the Beaufort Wind Force Scale and record the Beaufort Force and expected sea conditions. This lesson guide includes discussion questions and extension ideas (i.e. build an anemometer). Because the NDBC and other observing systems maintain buoys worldwide, educators are free to choose their own buoys to work with, e.g. a more local waterway or favorite vacation destination.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 14 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Processes
      • Weather and Climate
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
      • Atmosphere
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Technology
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
      • Animals
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
    • Number and Operations
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
      • Heat Transfer
    • Motion and Forces
      • Rotation Motion
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
      • Gases
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Wave Properties
      • Wave Motion
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
      • Technology and History

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • use keyboard
  • use mouse
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Petrone, Chris


Funding Sources:

  • NOAA Sea Grant
  • National Marine Educators Association