Teaching the Lesson Grades 45
This complete unit plan can be taught in two weeks , or lesson
components can be taught individually as described below.
The focus for students in this age group is to investigate
and observe ocean life. Students will practice their reading
comprehension, note taking, and writing skills. Depending on the
amount of time you have for this lesson, you can follow one or
both of the expeditions.
Your Mission (1 Day)
If you will be using the entire unit, begin with Your Mission.
If you are using individual components separately, you may wish
to skip over this project introduction with you class and go directly
to the specific field site on which you want to focus.
Encourage students to share what they may already know about
ocean life. Also suggest that they talk about sea turtles and/or
dolphins, the animals involved in the project.
Ask them to explain what they want to find out by participating
in this project. Have students read the Your Mission sections.
Afterward, lead a class discussion by asking questions such as:
- Why do they think an organization like Earthwatch is important?
- Why is it a good idea to have ordinary people participate
in these kinds of explorations?
After the discussion, have students locate the field sites on
a map or globe.
Go over the different components of the project with students.
Explain that they will
- read about research at the field sites;
- read field reports from team members at the site;
- conduct their own research on water ecosystems in their lives;
- observe and discuss dolphin behaviors.
Suggest that a good strategy to keep track of all the new information
they will learn is to organize it in a KWL Chart (PDF). Explain to students that they will fill out this chart
as they explore the activity.
Sea Turtle Field Reports and Interview Transcript (2 Days)
Have students read the online field reports and interview
transcripts from the Costa Rican field site.
To assess class understanding of the readings, ask questions
such as the following:
- Describe the physical attributes, climate, and geography
of the Las Baulas National Park.
- How do scientists like Dr. Paladino study sea turtles and
- What kinds of information are the scientists collecting?
- What are some of the dangers faced by sea turtles laying their
- How are Earthwatch teams protecting the turtles?
- What have scientists learned by observing the sea turtles
of Las Baulas National Park?
- What are some reasons for the population decline?
- Why is it important for sea turtles to survive?
- What is the process that the scientists go through when they
transfer the sea turtle nests to the hatchery?
Allow students time to add new information or questions to their
graphic organizers. Afterwards, talk about the collaborative nature
of the field mission. Explain that team members work together
to collect data. Tell students that they can collaborate with
each other by sharing questions and ideas. Encourage them to add
any new ideas or questions that appeal to them to their graphic
Dr. Frank Paladino will join Scholastic Explorers
on April 15 from 12 p.m. ET for a live interview. Encourage students
look over any unanswered question on their KWL chart
(PDF) and either send questions in advance or ask their questions
at the time of the interview.
Have students play the Turtle Hurdle game so
that they will research the answers to questions and gain an understanding
of sea turtles. Encourage them to add any new information to their
KWL graphic organizers. See assessment
Dolphin Journal (2 Days)
Have students read the online dolphin Field Report pages.
Remind them that later in the project they will observe and discuss
dolphin behaviors. Have them keep in mind what they want to find
out while they learn about the explorer mission.
To assess class understanding of the readings, ask questions
such as the following:
- Describe the physical attributes, climate, and animals of
the Kaikoura Peninsula.
- Why do the dusky dolphins congregate close to shore?
- How do the dolphins affect their environment?
- How do humans affect the dolphins?
- What are ways that dolphins have adapted their behaviors to
suit their environment?
- What are some typical dolphin behaviors?
- How do the scientists observe dolphin behaviors?
- Why is it important to observe dolphins?
Allow students time to return to their KWL charts and add new
information or questions. Afterwards, talk about the collaborative
nature of the field mission. Explain that team members work together
to collect data about the dusky dolphins. Tell students that they
can collaborate with each other by sharing questions and ideas.
Encourage them to add any new ideas or questions that appeal to
them to their graphic organizers.
Observing Dolphin Behavior (2 days)
Schedule computer time to allow each student to go to the Dolphin
Observatory activity. Have them use the online technology to view
dolphin photos and videos and describe what they see. Suggest
that students keep in mind the four dolphin behaviors: traveling,
feeding, playing, and resting.
After students have observed the dolphin behaviors, encourage
them to discuss what they have observed. Either individually,
or as a class, add student observations to the discussion board.
Be an Explorer (5 days)
Encourage students to talk about what they've learned about
ocean life. How did the Earthwatch Explorers conduct their scientific
inquiries? How did they keep track of their data? Tell them that
they will investigate a local water environment. Ask them to explain
what they want to find out by participating in this fieldwork.
Hand students copies of the Observation Journal (PDF)
to record and organize their field work.
Have students read the Be an Explorer section.
Before beginning their fieldwork they should consider what they
want to know about that particular ecosystem. Have them research
as much information as they can before they go out to their study
Remind them to collect all the necessary materials for their
field observations. Students should also take precise notes and
pictures of their observations. Point out that they need to take
special care of any samples they collect.
If possible, allow students time to visit their study sites
a few times during the week in class or assign observations as
When student observations have been made, have them sort and
analyze their data. What do they notice about their samples and
observations? Do they know how animal life in water environments
has been affected by human behaviors? Remind students to note
their observations in their Observation Journals
Have students brainstorm ideas about where they can conduct
additional research on their observations and samples. Where will
they go to find answers to questions about their data and samples?
Allow students time to share their discoveries. Encourage them
to explain their observation and collection techniques. Ask questions
such as: What did you learn about collecting data in the field?
What was the most interesting observation you made? What was the
most puzzling question you had? How did you go about finding more
Project Wrap-up (1 day)
Allow time for the class to talk about the aspects of the
project that they found most exciting or challenging. Encourage
them to compare and contrast the two study sites. As a class,
come up with questions to as Dr. Frank Paladino
on April 15 for a live interview from 12 p.m. ET. Dr. Paladino
will make every effort to answer all student questions.
As the students learn about the different field sites, have
them look up the location in an atlas. Once they have located
the country, encourage students to outline the country and draw
in the approximate location of the field sites. Coloring in different
sections, students can denote different countries, locations,
and areas of water.
Why do they think an organization like Earthwatch is important?
Why is it a good idea to have ordinary people participate in these
kinds of explorations?
Why are the turtles an important part of the Las Baulas ecosystem?
What are the factors involved with the success of the turtle population?
Which of these factors can scientists control? Which can we, as
individual citizens, control?
Why are scientists studying dolphin behaviors?
What kind of environmental factors might disturb the dolphins?
Compare the dolphin and turtle situations. How are they similar?
What are the differences?
How are flourishing turtle and dolphin populations important to
What other explorer missions would you like to participate in?