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Seaweek 2011: Spotlight on Marine Science

Marine Science Matters! - a unit for primary schools




SORTING OUT: Sample activities

Representing data

Use resource 2 – Fish Survey data sheet as a secondary source for this activity. Ask students to look at this data which is a record of results from volunteer SCUBA divers collecting information for scientists to use about fish populations on a local reef. This data is organised in a systematic way that makes it easy for scientists to collect and compare data and for direct entry into a database. Ask students to discuss different ways the data could be presented to share the results of the survey with the general public. Have students share ideas with a partner and then a group of four before decided on the most useful methods. Share methods with the class and select a few different ways to use to present the data. Organise groups to work on the chosen methods and present these to the class.

Classifying organisms

Students place a picture/name card of a marine organism on their chest. They then move around the class to find one or more students with cards that might belong in a group similar to theirs. Students justify their groupings. Use this activity as an introduction to a lesson on marine organisms and their groups. A useful resource for this and the next activity is the units on Marine animals on the MESA website.

What am I?

Play “What am I?” Students state facts or something known about a marine organism or environment one at a time until someone can guess what it is. Record and illustrate responses. Make a class big book.

What shell is that?

Use resource 3 -Shell identification guide for this activity. From a small shell collection (your own or a class collection contributed to by students) help students try to identify what families they belong to. This could be a small project for a group of students or a class activity. You could even put together a book to help people identify shells found at your nearest beach.

Six Hat Thinking

Introduce Edward de Bonos’s Six Thinking Hats.

Red Hat

= feelings

What are my feelings about marine organisms?

White Hat

= Information

What are some facts we have learned about marine organisms?

Blue Hat

= what thinking is needed

Can we think of ways to reduce use of plastics?

Green Hat

= new ideas

What is possible for us to do as users or consumers of things that cause marine pollution?

Black Hat

= weaknesses

What questions or issues does our learning about marine science research uncover?

Yellow Hat

= strengths

What are the good points we have learnt about discoveries made by marine scientists?

Place cut out hats on the floor and group responses as a class. Use the Blue Hat to determine major areas and focus questions for future investigation.

Class Marine life data file

Prepare a digital or physical data file to record information collected by students about marine organisms. Think of the best way to organise the record file: by type of organism, by habitat, by size or abundance and how to display the information. For example: digital data can be displayed using Powerpoint, in a web page design with linked pages or using interactive whiteboard software. Physical data can be arranged in a folder with dividers or a creative book with fold out pages.

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Scientist role play

Select students who will act as expert scientists to visit the class a give a short presentation about themselves and their work. Provide student scientists with a scientists profile from the web and give them time to read about the person they will pretend to be. As well as reading the information on the profile students should think of other information they may be able to use to help answer student questions.

If time they locate or make up some props that might make their talk more interesting. In groups, other students can be asked to think and write down questions they would like to ask of the scientists. Some children can be given the job of greeting and introducing the student scientists to the class. If you have access to a video camera some children could act as TV reporters and record the presentations.

Using a futures perspective

View the Wealth from Oceans Flagship video to discover how the Wealth from Oceans Flagship is helping Australia secure its social, economic and environmental future through knowing our oceans. Ask students to talk about the issues raised in the video. How does the Flagship project aim to deal with these issues? Why is such a project of value for Australia’s future?

Marine Parks – do we really need them?

Not everyone agrees with the need for marine parks, your students could debate the pros and cons of these restrictions for the sake of the environment. See web link Marine protected areas.

Swimming and surfing

Brainstorm reasons why people swim and surf in the ocean. For example, surfing is fun, swimming keeps you fit, it feels refreshing to be in the cold water, waves are unpredictable making surfing a game against the ocean, etc. Encourage students to add to this list and develop a mind map of the reasons people swim and surf.
Look up the website on ocean swimming – it has some fascinating facts about history of swimming in Australia, cultural links to swimming holes and can be used to discuss issues such as mixed bathing, swimming costume designs and post war ocean pollution.


Use the web link - "Tasmanian scientists expand their view of the ocean". After viewing this resource ask students to: List some reasons why this project is important? Discuss what advances in technology have made this project possible?

Drawing and Modelling

Use Resource 4 – Fish species photographs and Resource 5 – Scientific drawing for this activity. Before underwater cameras were invented and became affordable the only way to identify marine organisms was to do scientific illustrations. Often this required capturing the organism so that detailed observations could be made and recorded. Have students illustrate different fish species and use these to make a classroom display.

Investigating Sand, Rock Pool Audit and Beach diary

If you have a beach near enough to arrange a class visit try some of the activities suggested in Weekend Marine Science Series on the MESA website. Whilst these activities were written for community groups they can easily be modified for school students.

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