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Alaska Seas and Rivers Curriculum
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Investigation 4 - Human Impact Survey
Class Time Required 3-4 class periods + field trip
Materials Needed
Teacher Preparation
  • Visit and investigate possible field site(s) for the survey, and choose a site
  • Obtain maps of the targeted area
  • Arrange necessary permissions, transportation, adult volunteers, and other logistics
Prior Student Knowledge Students should be able to follow directions and work cooperatively in small groups.
Vocabulary

Biodegradable, Decomposition, Hazardous, Marine Debris, Pollutant, Stewardship

Science GLEs Addressed

3rd grade: SA1.1, SA1.2, SE1.1, SE2.1, SE3.1

4th grade: SA1.1, SA1.2, SE1.1, SE2.1, SE2.2, SE3.1

5th grade: S1.1, SA1.2, SE1.1, SE2.1,  SE2.2, SE3.1

Other GLEs Addressed

Reading, Writing, Math

Investigation 4Overview: Students plan and carry out a survey of human impacts to a local aquatic environment. They analyze their findings and prepare to share them with the community.

Focus Questions:

  • How do human actions change the (name of area or water body)? Are these changes helpful or harmful?
  • What actions or changes are needed to improve the health of the (name of area or water body)?


Engagement: (10-20 minutes)

As a class, share experiences and stories about the area that you have chosen for your field trip. If possible, invite elders or long-time residents of your community to talk about how human use of the area has changed.


Exploration: (1 class period for preparation and 2-4 hours for field trip)

Help students make a plan for monitoring and cleaning up the marine or freshwater ecosystem at the site you have chosen.

Review the Human Impact Survey data sheet to familiarize students with the types of things (signs of human activity, types of garbage, pollution) that they will be looking for at the site.

Develop a plan for covering the area adequately:
You might:

  • Divide the class into two teams, with one walking the high tide and the other walking the low tide zone. (Or high bank/waterline, one side of a stream/the other side of the stream, etc.)
  • Walk a zigzag path between the high and low tide lines, or other “zones.”
  • Walk along one line, zone, or side on the way out and the other on the way back.

Review data recording procedures: When recording data use tally marks in groups of five, then total when finished. If you encounter a dead or stranded animal, make a note of its location and leave it alone.

Distribute the Human Impact Survey data sheets and have students paste them into their science notebooks and prepare for data collection.

On the designated day, students will complete their “Coastwalk/Riverwalk,” collecting data, and picking up trash and debris as they go.

If you would like to have students complete a more in-depth survey, you may use the CoastWalk Checklist from the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies or the International Coastal Cleanup Data Card from the Ocean Conservancy.


Explanation: (1-2 class periods)

Compile the class data from the field trip by filling in a table on the board or overhead as student groups report their data. Students can copy this into their science notebooks.

Discuss and analyze the findings. Possible discussion questions include:

What are some of the impacts of human use of the area?
Where did you find the most trash? The least?
Was there a prevalence of certain types of items? Where might these items have come from?
Which types of debris could pose problems to area wildlife? How?
Which types of debris could pose problems to wildlife in other areas?
Will regular cleanups solve the problem? Why or why not?
When you collect marine or stream debris, where can it go so it won't end up back in a stream or on a beach? (Sometimes garbage dumps cause pollution also.)
What are some steps we can take to prevent the pollution in the first place?

What kind of graph or display could we make that would best illustrate our findings on the field trip?

Design and make graphs and displays that will be used to share the Coastwalk/Riverwalk findings with the community.

Ask each student to write in their science notebook:
How might human actions be benefiting or harming the (name of study area)?


Elaboration: (1 class period)

Divide students into small groups and ask each group to devise a plan for stewardship or remediation of the study area. They should describe actions that they could take to clean up and/or protect the area, and to educate the public. Their plans could include specific goals for cleanup and protection, as well as sample messages to the community. After small groups have devised their plans, provide time for sharing and critique by the whole class.

Ask each student to reflect on stewardship in their science notebook by writing briefly about the following:

  1. Am I responsible for helping to clean up and protect the (study site)?
  2. How can I do that?
You might ask students to compose a letter to the editor, a PSA, a twitter or a podcast about marine debris and how people may help solve the problem.


Extension:

Survey the physical conditions and inventory marine organisms at your site. Adopt the area as an ongoing project, by repeating the surveys at different times of the year and in successive years to monitor changes in the area. See the Alaska Center for Coastal Studies Coastwalk information for tools and procedures.


Evaluation:

Ask students to respond to the following questions in their science notebooks:

  • How do human actions change (name of area or water body)?
  • Are these changes helpful or harmful?
  • What actions or changes are needed to improve the health of the (name of area or water body)?

Look at the following student work to evaluate understanding:

  1. Human Impact Survey data sheet, student-made graphs, and analysis
  2. Science notebook reflections and summary of project data.


Teacher Preparation:

Tips from Teachers

Use photography for documentation of the field trip.

This might be a good activity to do in conjunction with a community clean-up day.

  • Visit and investigate possible field site(s) for the survey, and choose a site
  • Obtain maps of the targeted area
  • Arrange necessary permissions, transportation, adult volunteers, and other logistics
  • Copy data sheets for students

Curricular Connections:

Math. This investigation provides ample opportunity for learning about data and statistics, as well as graphing.

Art. Students could make posters, flyers, and logos for community education, and photography lessons could be incorporated into the field trip.

Social Studies. History of the area, map-making, local government actions related to debris, trash, and waste disposal.

Health. Connections to environmental health.

Ideas for adapting to different local environment or context:
Invite local scientists or experts as a guest speaker or participants.

 

Materials Needed for Investigation 4:

Student Handouts

Human Impact Survey data sheets Image

Items for Group Display

Sample Data sheet, if desired

Material Items

Pencils

Clipboards

Garbage bags

Chart paper and markers

Facility/Equipment Requirements

Appropriate location for activity

Chalkboard, Overhead Projector or LCD Projector to record/show student data

 

Alaska Science Grade Level Expectations Addressed:

3rd Grade GLEs addressed:
The student demonstrates an understanding of the processes of science by:
[3] SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring, and communicating
[3] SA1.2 observing and describing the student’s own world to answer simple questions

The student demonstrates an understanding of how to integrate scientific knowledge and technology to address problems by:
[3] SE1.1 identifying local problems and discussing solutions (L)

The student demonstrates an understanding that solving problems involves different ways of thinking, perspectives, and curiosity by:
[3] SE2.1 identifying local tools and materials used in everyday life (L)

The student demonstrates an understanding of how scientific discoveries and technological innovations affect our lives and society by:
[3] SE3.1 listing the positive and negative effects of a single technological development in the local community (e.g., fish trap, fish wheel, four-wheeler, computer) (L)

4th Grade GLEs addressed:
The student demonstrates an understanding of the processes of science by:
[4] SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring, and communicating*
[4] SA1.2 observing, measuring, and collecting data from explorations and using this information to classify, predict, and communicate

The student demonstrates an understanding of how to integrate scientific knowledge and technology to address problems by:
[4] SE1.1 recognizing that tools (e.g., spear, hammer, hand lens, kayak, computer) and processes (e.g., drying fish, sewing, photography) are an important part of human cultures

The student demonstrates an understanding that solving problems involves different ways of thinking, perspectives, and curiosity by:
[4] SE2.1 identifying the function of a variety of tools (e.g., spear, hammer, hand lens, kayak, computer)
[4] SE2.2 identifying multiple explanations (e.g., oral traditions, folklore, scientific theory) of everyday events (e.g., weather, seasonal changes) (L)

The student demonstrates an understanding of how scientific discoveries and technological innovations affect our lives and society by:
[4] SE3.1 listing the positive and negative effects of a scientific discovery

5th Grade GLEs addressed:
The student demonstrates an understanding of the processes of science by:
[5] SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring and communicating. *
[5] SA1.2 using quantitative and qualitative observations to create their own inferences and predictions.

The student demonstrates an understanding of how to integrate scientific knowledge and technology to address problems by:
[5] SE1.1 identifying a community problem or issue and describing the information needed to develop a scientific solution. (L)

The student demonstrates an understanding that solving problems involves different ways of thinking, perspectives, and curiosity by:
[5] SE2.1 investigating a problem or project over a specified period of time and identifying the tools and processes used in that project. (L)
[5] SE2.2 comparing multiple explanations (e.g., oral traditions, folklore, scientific theory) of everyday events (e.g., weather, seasonal changes). (L)

The student demonstrates an understanding of how scientific discoveries and technological innovations affect our lives and society by:
[5] SE3.1 describing the various effects of an innovation (e.g., snow machines, airplanes, immunizations) on the safety, health, and environment of the local community. (L)

Essential Questions:

  • How do people interact with the ocean?
  • What can we do to take care of the ocean?

Enduring Understandings:

  • Connections between humans and the ocean are important.
  • Everyone is responsible for caring for the ocean.
  • Science is a way to help us study the many connections in our world.

 

 
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