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Ocean Planet: Interdisciplinary Marine Science Activities

Middle, Secondary

Description

This resource, suitable for upper middle level and lower high school students, consists of six separate lessons encouraging ocean conservation. These interdisciplinary lessons highlight the premise that understanding the interactions of oceans and marine life gives us a good understanding of the planet's health and the effects of human activity. They contain detailed background information, clear procedures and ready to use handouts. As well, the activities are directly linked to an on-line version of the Ocean Planet Exhibit providing images, illustrations and other resource material.

There are "pencil and paper" components of lessons, as well as opportunities for hands on and simulation activities. These include  creating a model of an ocean bottom, playing a card game involving food webs in marine ecosystems, participating in a simulated shopping trip at a Harbour Mall (to learn of the many types of consumer products found in the ocean), cleaning up a model of an ocean oil spill, and also honing literary skills by writing "sea-faring" songs. As well, students are asked to write and perform a role-play which explores issues associated with how environmental clean ups affect a community.

The six lessons are:

Sea Connections: This lesson on oceanography identifies the features of an ocean bottom, asks students to draw a profile of one using data points, and finally students create an aquarium model of an ocean bottom and examine the effect of disturbing it on the ecosystems nearby

Sea Connections: The focus here is on biodiversity, the uniqueness of marine ecosystems and the connection that humans have with them. The students are exposed to four different marine ecosystems and are asked to identify producers and consumers within the systems, to construct a food web and then to discuss the types of human activities that could upset the balance of each of these. The culminating activity is a card game that shows how both natural and human-related events (like over fishing), can disturb and break links that connect species in that ecosystem.

Ocean Market: This set of lessons examines the numerous grocery, pharmaceutical, industrial and arts products that originate in the ocean. The emphasis is on recognizing the responsibility we have for using these resources wisely and preserving them globally. Consumer goods which come from the ocean are identified and classified according to their source. A simulated shopping trip to a "mall" in which goods are purchased that originate from the sea is an activity that reinforces the main ideas of the lesson.

Pollution Solution: These lessons examine the effects of an oil spill and the repercussions one has on a community environmentally, socially, and financially. After researching past oil spills, students are asked to predict the effects of an oil spill on a marine environment, establish a list of clean up strategies, and examine the financial implications of the clean up. Finally, the students create and take part in a role play activity (based on a news conference format) that highlights the problems that are caused for communities affected by an oil spill event.

Stranded along The Coast: These lessons examine the natural and human-related causes of sea turtle strandings along the northeast coast of the United States. Students plot stranding sites, identify coastal and ocean current characteristics which led to these strandings, and discuss the role that human activity had in these events.

Reflections On The Sea: This language arts lesson identifies terms associated with boats, ships and sailing. Activities show how this nautical language has made its way into everyday expressions. After examining this language in the classic novel Moby Dick, researching the origins of sailing words currently part of our vocabulary,  and listening to traditional songs of the sea, students work in groups to write and then perform songs or dialogues containing this "sea-faring" lingo.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • analyzing and plotting data
  • interpreting trends and patterns in data
  • constructing models
  • forming hypotheses about data
  • working cooperatively in a group to carry out a plan
  • inferring and explaining relationships
  • proposing solutions to a problem being investigated
  • communicating ideas effectively in different ways

Strengths

  • lessons are well organized with good background information, easy to follow procedures, meaningful questions and clear answer keys.
  • prepared student handouts are easy to use
  • the on-line link( Ocean Planet exhibit) directly related to the lessons is excellent
  • lessons are written so that most students can be successful
  • offers a multi-disciplinary approach
  • case studies are meaningful and authentic
  • few specialized materials and equipment are  required

Weaknesses

  • there is limited explicit teaching of how to take action.
  • no activities are suggested to take positive action in the community
  • not much time is given for group sharing and reflection
  • accommodations are necessary for struggling learners
  • assessment tools will be needed to be developed by the teacher
  • the resource is written for an American audience, so additional teacher prep will be needed to offer lessons with a Canadian flavour
  • no out-of-doors experience

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Alberta
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    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions and Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Freshwater and Saltwater Systems
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environment and Outdoor Education: Environmental Core
        • Environment and Outdoor Education: Environmental Investigations
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Biological Diversity
  • Manitoba
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    • Grade 7
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Water Systems on Earth
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interaction of Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Water Systems on Earth's Surface
  • Northwest Territories
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions and Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Freshwater and Saltwater Systems
  • Nova Scotia
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    • Grade 7
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 7: Environmental Action
    • Grade 8
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 8: Water Systems on Earth
  • Nunavut
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    • Grade 7
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions and Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Freshwater and Saltwater Systems
        • Interactions in Our Environment
  • Ontario
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    • Grade 7
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      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Systems: Interactions in the Environment
    • Grade 8
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      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth and Space Systems: Water Systems
    • Grade 9
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • :Biology: Sustainable Ecosystems
  • Prince Edward Island
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    • Grade 7
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions Within Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Water Systems on Earth
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 7: Life Science: Interactions within Ecosystems
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 8: Water Systems on Earth

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
  • Water (1)

    • Marine Environments

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

Although a variety of issues are addressed which showcase the interactions between oceans, marine life and humans the effects of global warming and the melting icecaps on marine ecosystems are not addressed.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

The close interaction between humans and marine organisms/ ecosystems highlights the responsibility of society to protect oceans. The economic implications of this responsibility are explored in some activities.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Satisfactory

The complexity of  the environmental issues in marine environments and society's role in ocean conservation are well presented. Dialogue and discussion is promoted to some extent.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

Poor

Action activities are poorly developed as the main focus of the  resource is to promote awareness. It is left up to the individual teacher to find appropriate and meaningful action experiences.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory

The resource focuses on providing information on ocean issues and promoting an awareness of how interconnected we are with the marine world. There are limited opportunities provided for students to identify, clarify and express their beliefs and values.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory

 All humans are asked to be aware of how their activities affect ocean life. Empathy is fostered for maintaining diversity, conserving marine ecosystems, and caring for endangered species.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not considered

Poor

There are no out-of-doors experiences.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

Locally focused activities are suggested as extensions, but are not part of the core of the lesson.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

Analyzing data from past events and relating how this affects the present and perhaps the future, is a common theme. The future is seen as positive only if we work to maintain and conserve ocean resources.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Satisfactory

Case studies, background information, and various activities provide opportunities for students to delve deeper into specific issues. Each activity definitely leads to a preset conclusion, but students still have discussion opportunities for sharing and proposing possible solutions.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

Lessons address both the cognitive and affective domains. No accommodations are suggested for students with learning difficulties. Reading level could be a problem for some students.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Students do some activities in groups, but cooperative learning skills are not explicitly taught or practiced.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered

Poor

The resource has limited assessment tools. Reflection and discussion questions are provided, but no checklists, tests, quizzes, or rubrics are included. Summative and formative assessments must be generated by the teacher.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

Some extension activities are suggested which provide students with opportunities to go deeper into issues.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.