Activity Description
The activities in the "Explorer's Ocean Life" project can be used with grades 4–8.

Your Mission
An introduction to the Scholastic Explorer's Ocean Life project. Students learn about the Earthwatch Institute, which works to conserve our cultural heritage and natural resources. Students will also gain background knowledge about the ocean ecosystems that they will explore.

Field Sites
There are two Ocean Life field sites:

Las Baulas National Park, Costa Rica
Students visit the tropical beaches of Costa Rica. The explorer team there is focusing on the population of female leatherback turtles that lay their eggs on the beach each year. Hotels, tourists, lights, fishing nets of commercial vessels, etc. are all human activities that have contributed to the dramatic decline of the leatherback population. If scientists can learn why numbers of leatherbacks in Costa Rica are decreasing, we have a better chance of saving the worldwide population from extinction.

The Kaikoura Peninsula, New Zealand
Students explore the coast of New Zealand, where there are large groups of dusky dolphins swimming offshore. The explorer team there observes and collects information on the behaviors of these social mammals. Scientists are hoping to learn more about the behaviors of these animals and about the effect of the tourist industry on the dolphins' behavior.

Field Reports
Las Baulas National Park, Costa Rica
Scientists and educators posted field reports in 1999, and Dr. Frank Paladino added a 2004 update on the status of the Leatherback turtles. Students will be able to follow the progress of the Leatherback turtles on the beaches, the protection of the nest of eggs through to the hatchings of baby turtles.

The Kaikoura Peninsula, New Zealand
Teacher Judy Evans posted field reports in 2002 from the field site in New Zealand. Students will be able to read about scientific findings and animal sightings at the explorer site.

Meet an Explorer
Students can meet the team members by reading a biography of teacher-host Judy Evans from the New Zealand dolphin site and Dr. Frank Paladino, one of the lead scientists for the leatherback sea turtle project at Las Baulas Park in Costa Rica. Students can ask teacher and explorer Judy Evans about her experiences studying dolphins in New Zealand.

Meet  Dr. Frank Paladino and ask him questions about ocean life on April 15 from 1–2 p.m. ET for a live interview.

Students can also read transcripts of past interviews with Dr. Paladino, Dr. Richard Reina, and teacher Judy Evans.

Be an Explorer
Students have the opportunity to use the knowledge they have gained about fieldwork to explore a water ecosystem of their own. They will make observation and collect field samples. Afterward, they research information to learn more and draw about their observations. Finally, they share their data and experiences.

Show What You Know
Using interactive online technology, students can test their knowledge of sea turtles using the Turtle Hurdle Game or use their understanding of dusky dolphins to interpret four images and video clips of dolphin behaviors. Students can describe the behaviors that they are seeing and post any conclusions they may have. Read teacher-host Judy Evans comments on past postings.

Lesson Goals:

Scholastic's Online Activities are designed to support the teaching of standards-based skills. While participating in the Scholastic Explorers: Ocean Life project, students become proficient with several of these skills.

1. Understand the importance of ocean life and the ocean environment.
2. Use graphic organizers to order their questions and discoveries.
3. Read online texts from the Field Reports to build comprehension of the nature of scientific inquiry.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of behavior and adaptations of organisms.
5. Interact with online technology to view, describe, and discuss different dolphin behaviors.
6. Investigate a local water ecosystem by making observations and collecting samples.
7. Use a variety of technological and informative resources to conduct research and analyze data about the sea turtles and dolphins.
8. Research ocean life and report on findings.

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