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Teaching Ideas
“Exploring Sawfish” - Ideas for Science and Technology

Activities linked to grade levels 5 - 10

Choose a problem associated with marine creatures and their life in the marine environment. Use a problem-solving approach that includes:

• Identification of a problem
• Investigation, wherein solutions are proposed, investigated, and tested by drawing, collecting information or making models
• Decision-making
• Modification, wherein the model or drawing is evaluated and modified
• Presentation, where models are presented with explanations of how they work
• Evaluation, where work is evaluated for its effectiveness. (5 - 10)

Design a trash trap that can remove plastic bags, cigarette butts, cans and other solid waste from stormwater. Draw a neat sketch of a model complete with labels highlighting how it works. (5 - 10)

Design a turtle-friendly fishing net that enables turtles to be released when caught in trawling nets. Reflect on an existing turtle exclusion device (TED) for ideas. Discuss ideas for the net. Draw up ideas and explain how it works. Evaluate whether it works efficiently and economically for all turtle species, or whether modifications are required. Use the Internet to find examples. (5 - 10)

Design a viewing device to assist looking at the underwater world. Consider recycling plastic drink bottles, strong plastic and cellophane. (4 - 6)

Find a way to cleanse water. Design and construct a simple water filtration system. Consider using plastic bottles, yoghurt, or margarine containers, tubing and filtering materials. Start by viewing a sample of fresh rainwater or distilled water. Find out what pollutes water as it makes its way to the Great Barrier Reef. Add contaminants to the rainwater. Find out which materials are most dangerous to sea life. Make a list of materials that could simulate this reality and devise a new system to filter them out of ‘murky water.’ Draw neat sketches of the device and label it. Alternatively, make a filter and write an explanation of how it works. Evaluate whether the filter works, whether it is safe for marine creatures, and what else can be done to reduce the level of contamination entering the sea. (6 - 10)

Investigate technologies used in tracking vulnerable or endangered marine species. Invent a new theoretical device to track a marine animal. Discuss the ethical, environmental, and economic considerations that need to be taken into account when devising technologies to monitor animal species. Give details of any technique, technology or system in use today. Report on findings. (6 - 10)

Discuss the need for industry and entrepreneurs to produce innovative and exciting mechanisms and systems to help conserve and preserve marine habitats and homes of endangered and vulnerable marine species. (6 - 10)

Get involved in a local community marine or environmental monitoring project, or conduct regular surveys of marine species, especially sawfish. (6 -10)

Select a political or social issue that affects a community’s ability to access technology and support at either the local, state, or national level, that would enable them preserve or monitor a threatened species. Formulate questions for an enquiry into the issue. (7 – 10)

As Marketing Director for the Sawfish Protection Society, produce a T-shirt and cap that promotes a biodiversity message. Take into account that the Sawfish Protection Society must appear as part of the design. Investigate how best to produce the chosen image on suitable fabrics. (5 - 10)

Activities for Technology

Activities linked to grade levels 1 – 5

Integrate Technology into your teaching unit about the Sawfish, Seaweek 2008 or the sea.

Invent a Reef Fish

The sea has a high diversity of fish. Scientists estimate that there are between 20,000 and 40,000 different species. Many have different shapes, colours, patterns and sizes.

Fish Shape
Can help you figure out what a fish eats and where they live. Just by looking at the shape of a fish, you can tell whether it is a fast or slow swimming fish, whether it eats small or large prey, and how it hunts food.

Fish Colour
Can mean many different things. The colours and patterns of fish play many important roles in daily fish life, such as:

• Warning,
• Species recognition,
• Individual recognition,
• Gender recognition,
• Courtship, and
• Camouflage.

Fish Patterns
Tell us a lot, for example:

• Many smaller fish use eyespots to confuse predators.
• Lots of small dots are commonly found on slow swimming fish that rest on the seafloor and rely on camouflage.
• Horizontal stripes are most common on fast swimming fish.
• Vertical stripes are most commonly found on deep-bodied fish like angelfish and butterfly fish that do not have the speed to out run a predator, but rely on quickly pivoting to change direction.

All fish have fins. Fins help fish swim. All fish have gills. Gills are for breathing in the water. Fish come in many shapes and sizes. Some are big and some are small.

Design and make your own fish that lives in Australian waters. Why not a sawfish, as it is the focus of Seaweek 2008? (1 – 5)

Your Fish must have:

• A head with eyes and mouth
• A body with gills, patterns and colours
• A tail with fin shape and it must be constructed from recycled or junk materials.

Research (This is not investigating)
Look at pictures of Sawfish and list their body shape, colour and pattern.
Identify their unique features.
Compare the size and placement of the fins to common fish types.

Devise Solutions
Draw a plan of the fish / Sawfish you are going to make.

• Make a large, colourful drawing of it.
• Label its features.
• What is its name?
• Look at the materials available and make a list of what you need.

Make your fish / Sawfish

Does your fish / Sawfish have a head with eyes and a mouth, a body with gills, patterns and colours, and a fin-shaped tail?

• Write some sentences to describe what your fish / Sawfish looks like.
• What does it eat?
• Where does it live?
• Write a story. A day in the life of a ________

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