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Alaska Seas and Rivers Curriculum
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Investigation 3 - Bering Sea Expedition

Class Time Required


6-8 class periods

Materials Needed

  • Science notebooks

Teacher Preparation

1 hour to read through the WebQuest, check links and copy the rubric. Recruit volunteers to serve on the Symposium committee.

Prior Student Knowledge

Internet research experience, concept mapping

Vocabulary

abiotic, bathemetry, biotic, crustacean, justification, phytoplankton, plankton, rookery, salinity, turbidity
Science GLEs Addressed

6th Grade: SA1.1, SC3.2, SE2.2, SE3.1

7th Grade: SA1.1,  SE2.2

8th Grade: SA1.1, SC3.1, SE 2.2

Selected by CLEANThis investigation has been selected as an NSF-funded Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) educational resource.


BeringSeaOverview: In this 6-8 day investigation, students use a WebQuest activity to research the effects of melting sea ice in the Bering Sea Ecosystem. The students create research proposals to earn a place on the scientific research vessel Healy, and present their findings and proposals to a "Research Board committee".

Focus Questions:

How does a warming climate cause physical changes in the Bering Sea that will affect the conditions for life for a variety of species?
How can scientists use technology to detect alterations in food webs?
Why are these changes important to people?


Engagement: (20 minutes)

Read the following information to the students:

“The Bering Sea is one of the most highly productive marine ecosystems on earth. It supports the largest commercial fisheries in the world. Whales, seals and seabirds flock to the Bering Sea to feed. Fur seals breed on island rookeries while walrus haul out on sea ice to bear young. Fin, minke, humpback, gray, and right whales, as well as belugas and porpoises feast on huge schools of smaller fishes and tiny crustaceans while orcas hunt other whales, seals, or salmon. Sea otters stay close to shore near kelp forests plucking invertebrates from the seafloor. Nearly half of Alaska’s seabirds live in just 10 colonies in the Bering Sea.” From North Pacific Research Board

Scientists have been researching the organisms in the Bering Sea on board a large ice-breaking ship called the Healy.
Show “Climate-driven Change in the Northern Bering Sea." This video shows scientists aboard the icebreaker Healy talking about melting ice and how climate change is altering the food chains in the Bering Sea.

Have students reflect, and then write in their science notebooks the ways their lives might be affected by changes in sea ice. Share using this “Fish Bowl Think Aloud” strategy:

Select 4 or 5 students to be in a “fishbowl,” sitting together in a cluster or at the front of the room. The students have a conversation about how their lives might be affected by changes in sea ice, while the teacher and the other students listen in and reconcile their own thinking with that of the students in the “fishbowl.” If time permits, students in the class can then have an opportunity to ask questions, by replacing a “fishbowl” student and joining the conversation while the “replaced” student takes a seat with the rest of the class. Be sure to set behavioral norms for this activity so that students can be comfortable sharing their ideas.

Exploration: (250+ minutes)

Explain to students that they will be participating in a WebQuest. This WebQuest will take students to the Bering Sea and they will use the internet to find out information about some of the organisms that live there.

The links provided guide students through research on how climate patterns cause physical changes in the Bering Sea, and how those changes affect the conditions for life. Their task includes playing the role of a team of scientists who are planning projects for the next cruise of the icebreaker Healy. Each team will write a proposal to the North Pacific Research Board, convincing them that the research urgently requires data to be collected on the upcoming Healy cruise. Several other teams of scientists will also be attending this meeting and making a case for their study plans.

Students will follow these steps:

  1. Find out about the Bering Sea, its physical conditions, and how they are changing.
  2. Choose the Bering Sea organisms that each team member will research. Each team member will research at least two organisms.
  3. Research.
  4. Meet with team members and construct a concept map of the relationships among the organisms that each team member has collected information about.
  5. Based on the information they have learned, decide what they plan to measure or observe, and the reasons that these studies are important to understanding the effects of a warming climate on the Bering Sea ecosystem. There should be no more than seven organisms that they plan to study on the Healy cruise.
  6. Write the study plan proposal. (Be sure you approve the plans.)
  7. Participate in a science symposium, using a PowerPoint presentation, animation, poster, or story to persuade the committee that their study plan is worthy.

To help students structure their time, you may choose to allow one class period to research the Bering Sea, one or two class periods to research their chosen species, one class period for teams to meet and construct a concept map, one class period to develop the study plan proposal, one or two class periods to develop the presentation, and one class period for the science symposium. During their research, you can formatively assess students using the “popcorn method” by asking students to quickly stand up and share one thing they have learned so far. Research materials may include terms and words that are new to students. Remind students to look up definitions if necessary. Share the WebQuest link with students and provide a time frame that works with your situation.


Explanation: (50 minutes)

In step 7 of the WebQuest, students are asked to present their research plan for the next cruise of the icebreaker Healy during a science symposium. They will prepare a creative persuasive presentation. The WebQuest suggests that they may use a PowerPoint presentation, poster, story, or animation. Depending on the resources you have available and the capabilities of your students, you may want to limit or expand their choices. It may also be desirable to set a time limit for the presentations. You may also bring in some parents, community members, or other school personnel to be the “research board committee” from the research board that will approve their proposal.
The committee can use the WebQuest Presentation Rubric to score the presentations.

The students should listen critically to each presentation, reflecting on their own research to clarify and modify their understanding.


Elaboration (15 min):

At the conclusion of the WebQuest, students are asked to reflect on their WebQuest and the symposium to identify 3-5 important effects of a changing climate in the Bering Sea. This reflection will be used for the unit’s Culminating Task in Investigation 5.


Evaluation:

The WebQuest Presentation Rubric for the science symposium presentation can be used for summative assessment.


Extensions:

Invite local scientists to share their knowledge of changes and effects on organisms in your local environment.


Teacher Preparation

Tips from Teachers

No tips are currently available.

Read the entire student version of the WebQuest. Recruit parents, community members, or other school personnel to serve as the “research board committee.” Copy the WebQuest Presentation Rubric for students and committee.

Check links on the Resources section of the WebQuest.


Curricular Connections

Literacy: Science Notebooks

Social Studies: Mapping, Commercial importance of Bering Sea

Language Arts: Persuasive writing

Technology: Internet research, PowerPoint


Ideas for adapting to different local environment or context:

For Interior schools, it might help to make a connection to the ways in which the effects of climate change in the ocean affect salmon in rivers.
Presentations can be adapted depending on technology available: PowerPoint, Posters, Overheads, Videos, Podcasts, Blog, Radio Program, etc.


Materials Needed for Investigation 3:

Student Handouts
Items for Group Display

video “Climate-driven Change in the Northern Bering Sea"

Material Items

Posterboard and art materials for presentations if PowerPoint is not used

Facility/Equipment Requirements

Projector and/or computers to view online videos and PowerPoint

Internet access

Computer and Internet access for students

Alaska Science Standards and Grade Level Expectations Addressed:

6th Grade:
The student demonstrates an understanding of the processes of science by
SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring, and communicating.*

The student demonstrates an understanding that all organisms are linked to each other and their physical environments through the transfer and transformation of matter and energy by
SC3.2 organizing a food web using familiar plants and animals.

The student demonstrates an understanding that solving problems involves different ways of thinking by
SE2.2 comparing the student’s work to the work of peers in order to identify multiple paths that can be used to investigate a question or problem. (L)

The student demonstrates an understanding of how scientific discoveries and technological innovations affect our lives and society by
SE3.1 describing the various effects of an innovation on a global level.

7th Grade:
The student demonstrates an understanding of the processes of science by
SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring, and communicating.*

The student demonstrates an understanding that solving problems involves different ways of thinking by
SE2.2 comparing the student’s work to the work of peers in order to identify multiple paths that can be used to investigate a question or problem. (L)*

8th Grade:
The student demonstrates an understanding of the processes of science by:
SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring and communicating.*

The student demonstrates an understanding that all organisms are linked to each other and their physical environments through the transfer and transformation of matter and energy by
SC3.1 stating that energy flows and that matter cycles but is conserved within an ecosystem.

The student demonstrates an understanding that solving problems involves different ways of thinking by
SE2.2 comparing the student’s work to the work of peers in order to identify multiple paths that can be used to investigate and evaluate potential solutions to a question or problem. (L)

The student demonstrates an understanding of how scientific discoveries and technological innovations affect our lives and society by:
SE3.1 predicting the possible effects of a recent scientific discovery, invention, or scientific breakthrough. (L)

Essential Questions:

  • How do changes in physical environment affect our ecosystem?
  • What impacts will climate change have on Alaska seas and rivers?

Enduring Understandings:

  • Climate patterns cause physical changes in the environment.
  • Physical changes in the environment can change the conditions for life.
  • Science and technology can be used to detect and solve problems.
 
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