Module 5

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Investigating Coastal
and Marine Environments through Science



Workshop Outline

Materials Required



The importance of both content and process is emphasised in almost all curriculum documents, syllabi and statements in science education. However, many teaching and learning resources tend to focus on content with few resources available with up-to-date information on the process of science. The 1980s and 1990s have seen changes in the processes of science used to investigate coastal and marine environments. Here the emphasis has been on how the processes of science can provide answers and make predictions to understand and manage our coastal and marine environments. This module provides teachers with information and skills on the processes of science used to investigate coastal and marine environments and their relevance to teaching practice.

In order to do this, participants will analyse the "Working Scientifically" strand in the science profile from the nationally-developed curriculum. They will also analyse science processes in other syllabus documents and the relationship between curriculum frameworks and current practices for investigating coastal and marine environments. It provides an introduction to some of the methods used in science to support generalisations for the patterns they see in coastal and marine environments. It also provides participants with the skills to be able to implement these strategies in their classrooms and in the field. In summary, this workshop seeks to challenge participants to appreciate the relevance of scientific methods for their teaching practice and to help teachers develop skills to implement these strategies.


The objectives of this workshop are:
  • to relate teaching practice with statements in curriculum documents which refer to "Working Scientifically" and science processes;

  • to analyse key issues in the process of science and its use when investigating coastal and marine environments;

  • to provide participants with the skills and strategies to implement the processes of science in their classrooms;

  • to relate and analyse the relevance of the processes of science, teaching practice and curriculum documents when investigating coastal and marine environments; and

  • to provide a framework for using the processes of science in any coastal and marine environment.

Workshop Outline

There are six activities in this workshop:

  1. Introduction
    This is an icebreaker activity. The purpose of this activity is to exchange ideas on how the participants use science to investigate coastal and marine environments and relate this to the "Working Scientifically" strand of the Statements and Profiles for science in nationally-developed curriculum documents. The investigation of coastal and marine environments in the field is emphasised.

  2. Observing, Collecting Data and Generalising
    This activity outlines common methods used in schools to investigate coastal and marine environments. It is introduced by a mini-lecture and then participants are asked to classify some science activities which are used to investigate coastal and marine environment.

  3. Generalisations and Evidence
    This mini-lecture provides participants with an overview of scientific methods and the standards of evidence scientists presently accept as valid when investigating coastal and marine environments.

  4. Barnacles in Mangrove Forests: An Example
    This mini-lecture illustrates the processes of modern science using a mangrove environment as an example.

  5. Design your own Field Trip: The Real Distribution of Mangrove Oysters
    This activity provides an overview of how to implement such strategies and how to develop a field excursion based on them.

  6. Conclusion: Where to Now with Science?
    This activity provides participants with an opportunity to comment on the use of science for investigating coastal and marine environments, its relationship with curriculum documents and with classroom practice. It also discusses the limitations of scientific processes.

Materials Required

A. Provided

Overhead Transparencies

OHT 1 Observing, Collecting Data and Generalising
OHT 2 Generalisations and the Evidence 1
OHT 3 A Model for Scientific Investigations
OHT 4 Generalisations and the Evidence 2
OHT 5 Why are there More Barnacles on the Seaward Side of Trees?
OHT 6 A Simple Generalisation
OHT 7 An Alternative Generalisation
OHT 8 Benefits of "Working Scientifically"



Resource 1 "Working Scientifically"
Resource 2A Investigating Plankton from the Mangroves
Resource 2B Change and the Mangroves
Resource 2C Field Excursion to the Mangroves - Junior Secondary
Resource 2D Investigating Common Barnacles in the Mangroves
Resource 3A "Working Scientifically"
Resource 3B ACT Science Curriculum Framework
Resource 4A The Real Distributions of Mangrove Oysters
Resource 4B Design Your own Field Trip



Reading 1 Observing, Collecting Data and Generalising
Reading 2 Generalisations and the Evidence
Reading 3 Barnacles in Mangrove Forests: An Example
Reading 4: A Field Trip: An Example

B. To be obtained

Activity 1 Several sheets of chart paper, thick pens and OHT pens.


Edwards, P., Watts, M. and West, A. (1993) Making the Difference: Science, Technology and the Environment, WWF, Surrey.

Harlen, W. and Elstgeest, J. (1992) UNESCO Sourcebook for Science in the Primary School: A Workshop Approach to Teacher Education, UNESCO, Paris.

Harlen, W., Macro, C., Schilling, M., Malvern, D. and Reed, K. (1990) Progress in Primary Science: Workshop Materials for Teacher Education, Routledge, New York.

Monk, M. and Dillon, J. (eds) (1995) Learning to Teach Science: Activities for Student Teachers and Mentors, The Falmer Press, London.

Pritchard, I. and Preuss, P. (1991) Data Handling Skills for Australian Science Students, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne.

Ross, P.M. (1995) Mangroves - a Resource, Environmental Trust Grant, Environmental Protection Authority, NSW.

Underwood, A.J. (1990) Experiments in Ecology and Management, their Logics, Functions and Interpretations, Australian Journal of Ecology, 15, pp. 365-389.

Underwood, A.J. (1991) The Logic of Ecological Experiments: A Case History from Studies on the Distribution of Macroalgae on Rocky Intertidal Shores, Journal of Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 71, pp. 841-866.

Underwood, A.J. and Chapman, M.G. (1993) Seashores: A Beachcomber's Guide, New South Wales University Press, Sydney.

Underwood, A.J. and Chapman, M.G. (eds) (1995) Introduction to Coastal Habitats, Coastal Marine Ecology of Temperate Australia, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, pp. 1-15.

Wellington, J. (ed.) (1989) Skills and Processes in Science Education: A Critical Analysis, Routledge, London.