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Life Sciences

William & Mary

VA SEA Lesson Plans

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Feeding Time: How Nutrients Drive Phytoplankton Growth, Brianna Stanley Jan 2020

Feeding Time: How Nutrients Drive Phytoplankton Growth, Brianna Stanley

Reports

Grades: 9-12 Subjects: Biology | Environmental Science | Oceanography

This lesson plan helps students make the connection between the amount of nutrients present in an ecosystem and the resulting growth of phytoplankton in our coastal waters. This lesson takes this concept a step deeper, by exploring how the proportions of nitrogen and phosphorus in the environment create the ideal conditions for phytoplankton growth. Students will explore the concept of limiting factors and will work on both their graphing skills and their ability to compare ratios.


The Code In The Water: An Investigation Into Harmful And Non-Harmful Algal Blooms, Samantha Fortin Jan 2020

The Code In The Water: An Investigation Into Harmful And Non-Harmful Algal Blooms, Samantha Fortin

Reports

Grades: 9-12 Subjects: Biology | Environmental Science | Oceanography

Algal blooms can be detected using the DNA extracted from water samples. This activity allows students to identify algae and understand the causes of algal blooms.


Dichotomous Keys: An Essential Tool For Fish Detectives, Jackson Martinez Jan 2020

Dichotomous Keys: An Essential Tool For Fish Detectives, Jackson Martinez

Reports

Grades: 6-8 Subjects: Life Science | Biology

How do scientists identify an unknown fish?

In this activity, students will utilize a dichotomous key to identify unknown fishes from the Chesapeake Bay and will then characterize their trophic levels based on feeding preferences and adaptations. Students will gain an understanding of organism classification, trophic level interactions, and how fishes may play different trophic roles throughout their lives.


Old Macdonald Had An Aquaculture Farm, Shantelle Landry Jan 2020

Old Macdonald Had An Aquaculture Farm, Shantelle Landry

Reports

Grades: 6 Subjects: Earth Science | Natural Resources

With this activity, students will learn the importance of aquaculture and how it can be used to manage a resource.


Trees Of The Seas, Michelle Woods Jan 2020

Trees Of The Seas, Michelle Woods

Reports

Grades: 6-8 Subjects: Biology | Life Science


What are harmful algal blooms and why do they occur?

In this lesson plan, students will run their own experiments to investigate how eutrophication can cause harmful algal blooms and investigate strategies for preventing them.


Tiny Killers, Sarah Pease Jan 2020

Tiny Killers, Sarah Pease

Reports

Grades: 9-12 Subjects: Biology | Environmental Science | Oceanography

What different methods and new technologies are used to monitor harmful algae and the toxins that they produce?

Students will learn about how harmful algae threaten human health through the processes of bioaccumulation and biomagnification. In small groups, they will design a harmful algae monitoring program based on mock harmful algae data, and then they will test their monitoring program and discover some of the challenges and limitations of any monitoring plan that attempts to measure variable, natural events.


Wave Fever: The Climate Induced Range Expansion Of The Atlantic Marsh Fiddler Crab, Kayla Martinez-Soto Jan 2020

Wave Fever: The Climate Induced Range Expansion Of The Atlantic Marsh Fiddler Crab, Kayla Martinez-Soto

Reports

Grades: 9-12 Subjects: Biology | Environmental Science | Oceanography

In 2014, scientists found that the Atlantic marsh fiddler crab had extended its northern limit by ~90 miles to New Hampshire, which is in the Gulf of Maine. Range expanding species can alter salt marsh characteristics such as biodiversity and food webs. In this lesson, students will combine sea surface temperature data from a federal database and fiddler burrow densities from field photos to determine the relationship between ocean warming and range expansions.


What's In The Muck? Benthic Sediment Characterization And Community Structure, Cristin Wright Jan 2020

What's In The Muck? Benthic Sediment Characterization And Community Structure, Cristin Wright

Reports

Grades: 9-12 Subjects: Biology | Environmental Science | Oceanography


Sediment classification and grain size can affect the types of organisms that live in the sediment. Some organisms prefer sandier sediment, while others love the fine-grained mud.

In this activity, students will classify sediment samples by grain size and plot their findings on a ternary plot. The students will then further investigate which benthic organisms live in the different sediments and which may be more resilient to a change in sediment classification.


Isotopes In The Estuary: Conception And Application Of Stable And Radioactive Carbon, Derek Detweiler Jan 2020

Isotopes In The Estuary: Conception And Application Of Stable And Radioactive Carbon, Derek Detweiler

Reports

Grades: 9-12 Subjects: Chemistry | Environmental Science | Oceanography

In this interactive estuary-focused activity, students will examine stable and radioactive isotope data which provide information about the source and age of environmental samples such as plant and soil matter. Students will calculate average isotope ratios from five reference land types (forest, wetland, agriculture, industry, aquatic) and an unknown site within an estuary. Students will graph their calculated ratios and determine the land type that most impacts their estuary based on reference-to-unknown comparisons.


Zoop Soup (And Poop!), Kristen Sharpe Jan 2020

Zoop Soup (And Poop!), Kristen Sharpe

Reports

Grades: 6-12 Subjects: Biology | Life Science | Environmental Science | Oceanography

Microscopic poops with a global impact!

Students learn about the ecological and global importance of zooplankton and their fecal pellets in the ocean carbon cycle. Students are guided through the scientific method while participating in an activity that simulates real sediment trap fecal pellet research. Students hypothesize where a sediment trap was set based on the "fecal pellets" contained in their sample, identify source species using a dichotomous key, count and weigh biomass of pellets, and graph and share results with classmates.


One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Whose Fish? Subjects: Life Science, Environmental Science, Marine / Ocean Science, Shelby White Jan 2019

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Whose Fish? Subjects: Life Science, Environmental Science, Marine / Ocean Science, Shelby White

Reports

This activity invites students to assume the role of various stakeholders in fisheries management and actively discuss the influence of economics, ecology and human interactions in decision-making.

Students will demonstrate their argument for/against a certain regulation by participating as a specific stakeholder (i.e. commercial fisher, recreational fisher, scientists/researcher, environmental group, management agency, and citizen). Students will recognize that stakeholders tend to advocate based on their individual needs, often making it difficult for proposed policies to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders and achieve sustainability goals.


Trawling Through The Five Gyres: A Microplastic Research Study. Subjects: Life Science, Earth Science, Marine/Ocean Science - Grade 6, Meredith Seeley Jan 2019

Trawling Through The Five Gyres: A Microplastic Research Study. Subjects: Life Science, Earth Science, Marine/Ocean Science - Grade 6, Meredith Seeley

Reports

This activity challenges students to help researchers understand what types of plastics are polluting the oceans!

Teachers will prepare samples of microplastics that were collected in each of the 5 ocean gyres, mimicking plastic concentrations actually found in the oceans! Working as a group, students will count the items of plastic and graph their results. They will share their results with the class to compare their gyre to the other four gyres. Finally, students will understand the link between ocean microplastic pollution, and our use of single-use plastics.

This activity can be completed in 45 minutes in the class. An ...


Sequence Csi: The Nitrogen Cycle. Subjects: Life Science, Environmental Science, Marine/Ocean Science - Grades: 9-12, Stephanie Wilson Jan 2019

Sequence Csi: The Nitrogen Cycle. Subjects: Life Science, Environmental Science, Marine/Ocean Science - Grades: 9-12, Stephanie Wilson

Reports

This lesson invites students to work together to identify a mystery DNA sample using state of the art biotechnology.

After identifying the organism, they can work with another group of students to hypothesize about how the different organisms are related to one another. Students will learn that the samples are connected through the nitrogen cycle! This gives students an introduction to scientific molecular techniques and environmental nitrogen cycling.


Prismatic Little Plankton. Subjects: Life Sciences, Physical Science/Chemistry; Marine/Ocean Science - Grades: 9-12, Kristen Sharpe Jan 2019

Prismatic Little Plankton. Subjects: Life Sciences, Physical Science/Chemistry; Marine/Ocean Science - Grades: 9-12, Kristen Sharpe

Reports

This is a hands-on interdisciplinary activity that incorporates the fun of biology into physics!

Students participate in chromatography experiments to investigate the properties of plant pigments found in various fruits and vegetables, representing pigments commonly found in various species of marine phytoplankton. The students then apply what they've learned to create and analyze a chromatogram of a mystery "algal" sample to determine which species of phytoplankton are in the sample based on the pigments present. This activity simulates phytoplankton community analysis research done using High Performance Liquid Chromatography at VIMS.


Atlantic Wolffish: A Tale Of Missing Teeth. Subjects: Life Science, Biology, Marine/Ocean Science - Grades: 6-8, Kate Bemis Jan 2019

Atlantic Wolffish: A Tale Of Missing Teeth. Subjects: Life Science, Biology, Marine/Ocean Science - Grades: 6-8, Kate Bemis

Reports

This lesson plan asks students to make observations based on photographs of real specimens from a natural history collection.

Students collect data to make graphs, which allow them to compare trends for how different variables impact the ecology of Atlantic Wolffish.


Expedition Sediments: Mud's Journey Through The Watershed. Subjects: Earth Science / Environmental Science Grades: 9-12, Jessie Turner Jan 2019

Expedition Sediments: Mud's Journey Through The Watershed. Subjects: Earth Science / Environmental Science Grades: 9-12, Jessie Turner

Reports

Expedition Sediments is a game-in-a-lesson that allows students to explore the movement of sediments through watersheds by moving around the classroom. This lesson explores how grains of estuarine mud and sand move throughout estuaries and coastal regions, with a focus on processes surrounding a highly populated estuary such as the Chesapeake Bay. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to explain how sediments are transported through an estuary, graph sediment residence times in different locations, and compare the timescales of different sediment transport processes.


Sexual Dimorphism In Shrimp. Subjects: Life Science / Biology Grades: 9-12, Soloman Chak Jan 2017

Sexual Dimorphism In Shrimp. Subjects: Life Science / Biology Grades: 9-12, Soloman Chak

Reports

Best suited for advanced high school students, this lesson offers an example of how a biologist uses morphometrics to test hypotheses about sexual selection and evolution in snapping shrimp. Students use software (ImageJ) to measure carapace and claws of two shrimp species with contrasting lifestyles. Students can take measurements themselves using ImageJ, and then analyze using Excel.


Earthquakes, Glaciers, And Sediments, Oh My! Subjects: Earth Science, Environmental Science, Life Science/Biology Grades: 9-12, Elisabeth Clyne Jan 2017

Earthquakes, Glaciers, And Sediments, Oh My! Subjects: Earth Science, Environmental Science, Life Science/Biology Grades: 9-12, Elisabeth Clyne

Reports

This lesson plan is developed for 9th grade earth science classrooms, but can be scaled up or down. Students will explore how marine sediments serve as a history book for geologic activity. They will collect mock cores and developing conclusions about earth history.


Counting Blue Crabs In The Bay! Subjects: Life Science / Biology, Environmental Science, Marine / Ocean Science Grade Level: 6-8, Bruce W. Pfirrmann Jan 2017

Counting Blue Crabs In The Bay! Subjects: Life Science / Biology, Environmental Science, Marine / Ocean Science Grade Level: 6-8, Bruce W. Pfirrmann

Reports

This lesson plan invites students and teachers to ponder the question: How many blue crabs are in the Chesapeake Bay, and where do we find them? Through hands-on activities and the use of real data, students will discover the excitement and grapple with the challenges faced by marine scientists as they try to quantify the use of different habitats by marine animals and estimate the size of marine animal populations.


Digesting Data - Subjects: Life Science / Biology Grade Level: 6-8, Amanda Bromilow Jan 2017

Digesting Data - Subjects: Life Science / Biology Grade Level: 6-8, Amanda Bromilow

Reports

This lesson plan encourages students to become scientific investigators to determine which fish species are important predators of juvenile blue crabs in Chesapeake Bay. Students will have the opportunity to practice using triple-beam balances and draw conclusions based on their data.


Marine Parasites And Fish: How To Sample And Analyze. Subjects: Life Science / Biology, Environmental Science, Marine / Ocean Science Grades: 6-8, Zoemma Warshafsky Jan 2017

Marine Parasites And Fish: How To Sample And Analyze. Subjects: Life Science / Biology, Environmental Science, Marine / Ocean Science Grades: 6-8, Zoemma Warshafsky

Reports

This lesson plan provides a hands-on way for students to investigate the impacts of an invasive parasitic nematode which has been targeting the American eel. Students will first “infect” pipe cleaner eels with parasitic nematodes (beads), which will then be used to simulate real-life research efforts through collecting multiple random samples of “eels” and counting the amount of parasites. They will then use this data to calculate prevalence, mean intensity, and mean abundance.


Microscopic Hitchhiking: Taking A Trip With Microbes And Plankton. Subjects: Life Science / Biology, Environmental Science, Marine / Ocean Science Grades: 6-8, Lucia Safi Jan 2017

Microscopic Hitchhiking: Taking A Trip With Microbes And Plankton. Subjects: Life Science / Biology, Environmental Science, Marine / Ocean Science Grades: 6-8, Lucia Safi

Reports

This lesson plan develops concepts on food webs and ecological relationships, giving special attention to microorganisms and Chesapeake Bay species and dynamics. Students will conduct investigations, generate their own data and find out more about species they constantly see!


Plastic As A Habitat For Bacteria And Human Pathogens. Subjects: Life Science / Biology Grades: 6-8, Amanda Laverty Jan 2017

Plastic As A Habitat For Bacteria And Human Pathogens. Subjects: Life Science / Biology Grades: 6-8, Amanda Laverty

Reports

This lesson plan invites 7th grade life science students to investigate marine plastic pollution as a habitat for bacteria and human pathogens. Students will examine the hazards of marine plastic pollution and learn about current science. They will have the opportunity to use data to create graphs and discuss patterns.


Sea Turtle Csi: A Graphing Activity, Subjects: Life Science / Biology Environmental Science Marine / Ocean Science, Bianca Santos Jan 2017

Sea Turtle Csi: A Graphing Activity, Subjects: Life Science / Biology Environmental Science Marine / Ocean Science, Bianca Santos

Reports

This lesson plan invites seventh grade students to take on the role of detective to determine the time of death of the stranded turtle that washed up on shore. Students will make observations and use evidence-based reasoning to turn qualitative data into quantitative data


Keeping Up With Sea-Level Rise: Salt Marsh Accretion. Subjects: Earth Science, Marine / Ocean Science Grades: 9-12, Bethany L. Williams Jan 2017

Keeping Up With Sea-Level Rise: Salt Marsh Accretion. Subjects: Earth Science, Marine / Ocean Science Grades: 9-12, Bethany L. Williams

Reports

This lesson uses a hands-on demonstration to give students an understanding of how this critical ecosystem can keep pace with sea-level rise. Students will have the opportunity to make and test hypotheses about how different animals can affect salt marsh resilience, after learning about simple ecological interactions.


The Mystery Of Ocean Acidification, Patricia Thibodeau Jan 2017

The Mystery Of Ocean Acidification, Patricia Thibodeau

Reports

Grades: 9-12 Subjects: Biology | Life Science | Environmental Science | Chemistry

This lesson plan invites middle-school students to solve a mystery: what is ocean acidification and how is it affecting marine life in the Antarctic? To solve the mystery, students will participate in an ocean acidification scavenger hunt, and propose hypotheses and arrive at their own conclusions with interpretation of real-time data from the Antarctic.


Seagrass Survivor. Subjects: Life Science / Biology, Environmental Science, Marine / Ocean Science Grades: 6-8, Amanda Bromilow Jan 2017

Seagrass Survivor. Subjects: Life Science / Biology, Environmental Science, Marine / Ocean Science Grades: 6-8, Amanda Bromilow

Reports

This role-play and decision-making game allows students to simulate predator-prey interactions between fish and blue crabs in a seagrass bed. Students will then make inferences about the influence of habitat and body size on juvenile blue crab survival.


Can’T Catch My Breath! A Study Of Metabolism In Fish. Subjects: Environmental Science, Marine/Ocean Science, Life Science/Biology Grades: 6-8, Gail Schweiterman Jan 2017

Can’T Catch My Breath! A Study Of Metabolism In Fish. Subjects: Environmental Science, Marine/Ocean Science, Life Science/Biology Grades: 6-8, Gail Schweiterman

Reports

This lesson plan invites high school students to ask questions and formulate hypothesis regarding the drivers behind observed differences in metabolism in different fishes. Students will practice calculating metabolic rate, making biologically relevant inferences about the lifestyles of different fishes based on their findings, and formulate questions that would guide future studies.


Stakeholders Of The Chesapeake: Curse Of The Eastern Oyster. Subjects: Life Science / Biology, Environmental Science, Marine/Ocean Science Grades: 6-8, Taylor Goelz Jan 2017

Stakeholders Of The Chesapeake: Curse Of The Eastern Oyster. Subjects: Life Science / Biology, Environmental Science, Marine/Ocean Science Grades: 6-8, Taylor Goelz

Reports

How do we decide how to manage oysters and who has a stake in that management decision? Students are placed in the role of a stakeholder group who cares about what happens to the Eastern oyster and asked to rank management priorities from the perspective of their group and others. Through viewing oyster management through a single perspective, students can begin to understand that balancing stakeholder’s views in setting policy and management is challenging.