A Bit of Engineering

Grade Level: 5-8

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Source: Adapted with permission by JOI Learning.


Courtesy Earth Science World Image Bank; Copyright © Noblecorp

The JOIDES Resolution is an amazing ship that contains all the equipment necessary to drill intothe oceanfloor for samples of rock and sediment:
a derrick, drill pipe, drilling tools, and drill bits. Once the cylindrical core sample arrives on the rig floor, the drill crew passes the 10 m
core to technicians. They, in turn, carry it to the catwalk, where it is cut into 1.5 m sections and labeled. After the core is brought up on deck, the
technicians notify the rest of the crew by yelling: “CORE ON DECK!”

Technicians handle cores very carefully so as not to disrupt the contents. Finally, the cylindrical core sections are cut in half lengthwise so lab techs and scientists can take samples and write descriptions of the contents in hopes of discovering new information. But who brings the core from the sea floor to the deck and who figures out how to drill? Drillers, drilling technicians, and engineers.



1. View the JOIDES Resolution drilling video available at http://www.joilearning.org/multimedia/Tripping_pipe.html. Discuss the drilling process. See split core photos (http://www.joilearning.org/classroom/treasure_chest.html). Why is it important to keep the core intact. Discuss the need for problem solving when coring the ocean floor. What might happen if sediment is too hard or too soft? What do would likely happen if the drillers or technicians were careless with samples?

2. Separate into small groups, and prepare to drill your own core samples today, simulating the procedure of producing good core samples that
can be described accurately. Discuss what will be your group’s approach to drilling into your “substrate.”

3. Prepare your a sandwich (or your substrate of choice) as well as all three drilling tools — plastic tubing, jumbo straw, slim straw — and a
coffee stirrer.

4. Hypothesize which tool would be appropriate for drilling. Drill cores using all three tools. Once the cores are collected, remove the cores
(if possible) and describe your results.

5. Discuss:

See www.joilearning.org for more videos, photos, and information about cores and the data that come from them.