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Seaweek 2011: Spotlight on Marine Science

Marine Science Matters! - a unit for primary schools




FINDING OUT: Sample Activities

Guest Speaker

Invite a marine scientist to speak to the students about their work, what area they study, why is it important, what interests them most about their work. If you are in a remote area try to organise an interview by webcam or video conference.

Fact cards

Read some of the profiles of scientists on the MESA webpage. Compose a mind map summarising the most important pieces of information. Make up a vocabulary of new words and look them up to create a glossary.

Think of another way to visually display this information. Present the information orally and show the visual displays to the rest of the class.

Web Search

Use the list of websites and others you have found to allow students to explore questions like:

1. What are seagrasses and why are they important? Where is research being conducted in Australia on sea grasses and what are they trying to find out?
2. What are ship worms?
3. How do scientists measure global surface temperatures?
4. How do scientists explore what lives deep in the oceans?
5. How much will sea levels rise as the world warms?
6. What is Australia doing to address the slaughter of whales in other countries?
7. How many fish species have scientists discovered on Lord Howe Island off NSW?
8. What differences exist between fresh water and marine crayfish?
9. What do you think will happen if a major environmental disaster wiped out the Great Barrier Reef?
10. What changes would you recommend to pollution laws to stop the use of plastics in Australia?
11. Predict what will happen if humans kill of all the sharks and whales in the ocean
12. Where are some areas of the ocean that have hardly been explored by scientists?
13. What’s the difference between a marine biologist and a marine chemist?
14. What do Port Jackson Shark eggs look like?
15. What do sea spiders and sea slugs look like?
16. How can microbes help clean up oil spills?
17. Do scientists find out everything about the ocean all by themselves?
18. What sorts of technology do scientists use to study the oceans?
19. What is an echinoderm?
20. Are waves important to our marine ecosystems?

Find out about some of the localities research is being conducted by CSIRO

To find out more about the localities CSIRO is conducting marine research, search for localities in marine and coastal environments. Talk with the students about these examples, introducing new vocabulary as needed. Look for clues and ask questions. For example:

  • What is this place like?
  • Why is it of interest to marine scientists?
  • What is happening in this place?
  • What kind of scientific research is being conducted here? How are people travelling to this place?
  • Where do scientists stay when conducting research in this place?
  • What agencies are involved in conducting research at this place?
  • What marine organisms live here?
  • What technologies are used by marine scientists to conduct their research here?
  • How is this research important?

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Note: Coastal and marine environments can be of interest to scientists for a number of reasons; once a research facility is established it is common for a group of scientists to work on different but related projects. For example the Monkman research station on Green Island in Cairns is used by many different scientists: some doing regular sampling on long term projects such as seagrass monitoring, impacts of tourism on the reef; and others making single visits to collect data on, e.g. rainfall patterns, sea water acidification and changing distribution of plants and animals.

Research project

Brainstorm how the increase in human population world- wide will impact the ocean in terms of seafood supply and demand. Consider the alternatives offered by aquaculture. What kinds of seafood can be farmed? Use a graphic organiser to compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of aquaculture. Allocate groups to investigate:

  • Fish farming
  • Oyster farming
  • Sustainable seafood
  • Growing crustaceans
  • Traditional fishing techniques
  • Aboriginal and Torres Straight fishing

Recreational and commercial fishing – survey

Design a set of questions students could use to interview their parents and grandparents about their past and present experiences of fishing. Questions should gather information about the types of fish caught, the numbers and size of fish and any changes in these over time. Questions should try to find out reasons for changes in how easy it is to catch a fish and opinions about commercial fishing and the new laws regulating recreational fishing, e.g. Marine parks and fishing licences.

Whales and dolphins

Have students read or listen to you read: Australia’s Research Priorities for Cetaceans produced by the Australian government (see website links). Discuss questions such as:

  • What are the main areas of research interest conveyed in the publication?
  • Do you think all countries would have similar research priorities as Australia?
  • Who is responsible for ensuring these research priorities will be met?

View the fact sheets - Non-lethal techniques for studying whales and - The role of science in the international whaling commission (see web links). Have students write reflective responses about the issues raised.

But there’s more! View and select suitable activities for your students from the website that includes 3 units of work for teachers and video of Minke Whales (see web links).

NEXT: SORTING OUT: Sample activities ...   



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