Earth is largely a "water planet" - the only planet we know of that has liquid water on its surface. Oceanography has developed from early mythological explanations of the present use of high technology to study their features and workings. The oceans played an integral role in the exploration of Earth and the spread of humankind across the planet, as well as being a continuing source of food and other resources. In the Puget Sound region, we feel the effects of the nearby ocean daily, from the weather we have to food we eat. This course investigates the origins and nature of Earth's oceans. It looks at processes acting within the oceans (tides, currents, waves), interaction of the oceans, atmosphere, and continents, and the effects of these processes on life on Earth, including humans in the northwestern U.S. These facets are studied in the "big picture" context of the Earth as an integrated system in which each process affects the others. A portion of the lab time is devoted to measurement of the properties of oceanic and crustal material, some of which are collected locally from Puget Sound. Other labs are used to familiarize students with maps, charts, and other information sources. Emphasis is placed on making inferences about Earth systems from data gleaned from students' own measurements and other sources.