Science Explorations
Investigate the Giant Squid

The Giant Quest
Explore four different ways scientists study the giant squid and find out giant squid mysteries that still remain.

  1. Ask students how scientists might study something they cannot easily observe. What might be challenging? Access the Scientist Top Tips near the top of the page for three ways Dr. Landman approaches his investigations.
  2. Distribute the Reading Comprehension KWL Chart (PDF). Ask students to reflect on the giant squid and fill in the first two columns, "What do I know?" and "What do I want to find out?" before entering the activity.
  3. Students should fill in the third column, "What did I learn?" as they travel through the activity. They may also add to or adjust the first two columns as they go.
    The four activity areas are:
    • Research: Students read two articles to gather information from other scientists.
    • Compare: An animation of jet propulsion illustrates how other squid species help scientists make conjectures about the giant squid.
    • Observe: By selecting external and internal giant squid body parts, students find out how preserved specimens teach scientists about anatomy.
    • Examine: An audio slideshow guides students through some of Dr. Landman's work and demonstrates how fossils give clues -- even about an invertebrate like the giant squid.
  4. When students select "Back to Squid Central" from the four areas, they will encounter questions that remain about the giant squid ("How fast do they grow? At what depths do they swim?") Using the back of the KWL chart, have students take notes on giant squid mysteries they would like to investigate and their ideas about how to address them.
  5. Once students have explored all four areas, return to the original question and ask students how their ideas may have changed or developed concerning how scientists might study something they cannot easily observe. Ask students what surprised them or interested them about the giant squid. Explain that they will use their notes to complete the next activity.

Take Action!
Use gathered information to write a creative plan that focuses in on answering one giant squid mystery.

  1. Ask students to explain some mysteries that remain about the giant squid. Start a discussion about creative methods scientists could use to find answers to some of these questions.

  2. As an example, introduce students to scientist Greg Marshall's idea. He created the "crittercam," a small, lightweight camera that's attached to an animal to capture sights and sounds from the animal’s perspective. It's been used on turtles, penguins, and wild lions and even sperm whales in hopes of spotting its prey, the giant squid.

  3. Have students work alone or in groups to identify one mystery to focus on.

  4. Distribute Idea Webs (PDF) and have students explore different ways to investigate. Once they've solidified their plans, have them submit their ideas through the Science Explorations site. Twenty outstanding entries will be selected to be published on the site with comments from paleontologist Neil Landman and the Science Explorations team.

Use articles and photographs to examine the deep-sea ecosystem and underwater adaptations.

  1. Now that students have explored different ways scientists gather information and have created plans of their own to find out more about the giant squid, they are ready to cast a wider net and learn more about the extraordinary environment of the deep ocean.
  2. Break students into small groups. Distribute and explain the What's the Main Idea (PDF) graphic organizer. Make additional blank copies of the blank graphic organizer available as needed. Assign each group one of the seven Investigate topics:
    • Bioluminescence
    • Ocean Life
    • Underwater Exploration
    • Deep Sea Ecosystems
    • Buoyancy
    • Coronate Jelly: Extreme Conditions
    • The Bloodbelly Comb Jelly: Lights in the Dark
    Once students have worked together to complete the graphic organizer, have each group present what they learned to the class. Groups may include questions or project ideas inspired by their new knowledge.
    For a larger project, add an original poster to the presentation assignment.

Lesson Extensions
For offline activities that encourage self-directed inquiry, check out Backyard Science.

Follow Up Thinking
Continue student discussion with these questions:

  • What challenges would humans face if they attempted to live in a deep ocean atmosphere? What inventions or technology could be used to address these challenges?
  • The ocean is sometimes called the "last frontier." Why is there still so much unknown about the deep ocean? In terms of protection and conservation, what might be negative and positive outcomes of the environment's remaining mysterious?
  • Scientists have caught images of the giant squid on film. What do you predict the next great giant squid discovery will be? How will scientists make it? What do you think are the best areas for scientists to focus their efforts on?

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