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Ocean Resources

Students in Oceanography class, which is taken by high school juniors and seniors, were assigned a research topic with presentation for their final assignment. Presentations, given by the students during their final exam period, were a wonderful wrap-up to oceanography and segue to marine biology next semester. Their presentations also provided a means for covering a lot of ocean resource topics in a short time period, as each student was assigned a different resource, but all with the same essential question:

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The assignment

Big Idea: The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected. The oceans are a connected system of water in motion that transports matter and energy around Earth’s surface.

Assignment:  In the role of a marine scientist, you will research a marine resource and present an argument for a position related to use of that resource, supporting your position with scientifically valid evidence.

Product:  On the day of the final exam you will (1) turn in a 3- to 5- page paper, and (2) give a five- to ten-minute oral presentation, with video support, of your research results.

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Commercial Fisshing slide by Jesse

Marine Resource Topics:

To make sure that each student had a separate research topic, I printed the following list in large font and spread them out on the table for students to choose from. Sometimes I assign by putting the topics in a “hat” and students choose blindly, but this is typically followed by a lot of negotiations for swapping; the way I did it this time still had negotiations, but between only those that were quickest with the grab rather than everyone. No perfect way to do this because everyone wants coral reefs.

  • Petroleum and natural gas
  • Marine sand and gravel
  • Magnesium and magnesium compounds
  • Salt
  • Manganese Nodules
  • Phosphorite Deposits
  • Metallic Sulfides
  • Fresh Water from the Ocean
  • Methane hydrates
  • Offshore wind energy
  • Energy from waves and currents
  • Energy from ocean vertical thermal gradient
  • Coastline protection
  • Coral Reefs
  • Medicine and drugs
  • Crustaceans and molluscs
  • Commercial fishing practices
  • Aquaculture
  • Whaling
  • Managing biological resources

Students were encouraged to narrow down their topics to make them more manageable. For example, “Aquaculture” could be narrowed down to shrimp farming.

To make the assignment clear to the students, I broke the description into two pages: the paper and the presentation.

Research Guidelines:

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Wave Energy by Jacob

1.Required Length: 1000 words (approximately three pages of text), not including references and not including quoted material.

2.  Required references: a minimum of five relevant scientific articles and/or internet sites related to the topic. This is the minimum amount of reference material — you may need more to do an adequate job of researching your topic.

3.  Things to focus on in your research:

  • define the problem – what part of the world’s ocean does it affect?
  • how did the problem come about? How is the problem being made worse by humans/is it being made worse by humans? What are the various causes of the problem?
  • what are some possible solutions to the problem? Are any of the feasible?  How will we implement some of these solutions?
  • what is the importance or significance of the topic?
  • what methods have scientists used to investigate the topic?
  • what kinds of information and data have scientists found?
  • what major results and conclusions have scientists made, based on the above?

4.  Format of the paper:

  • Lead off with a separate title page, containing: title, your name, course name, school name, date
  • Body of at least three pages of text (~1,000 words):
  • Begin the body with an introduction: a section (one or two paragraphs) that clearly states the purpose of the paper and reviews the main points that the paper will cover
  • Break up the paper into logic sections using subheadings to identify the subject of the different sections
  • End the paper with a conclusion (one or two paragraphs) that wraps up and summarizes in specific ways the main points of the paper
  • Spell-check and grammar-check! (sloppy spelling errors and poor grammar will result in a poor grade)
  • A page (or more) of references per MLA guidelines

5.  Submitting your paper: Submit your paper in electronic format, preferably in Microsoft Word or Google doc.

6.  Plagiarism: Don’t. Just don’t. You know better.

forbes

Background and Reflective Thoughts

Our school only teaches MLA formatting. With my 18-year background of  writing engineering documents, I find it frustrating to constantly be getting english-style essays rather than scientific documents. Starting next year, I plan on teaching my students APA formatting, and directing students to understand the difference between technical writing and english-essay writing.

The word length is only 1000 words because I wanted the students focussed on finding good resources and highlighting the issues, rather than being focussed on “getting the right number of words”. In meeting the research requirements most students were concerned that they had gone too far over the minimum.

Our librarian has stacks of research record templates in different colors for students to use to document their research, with teachers assigning a different color for the type of resources, e.g., blue for a book, green for technical article, etc.. Our librarian has, for her entire career here, been proactive in helping students to learn the difference between “good” and “bad” resources, to understand what paraphrasing is and isn’t, and to use databases beyond the internet. She teaches all freshmen how to research a topic and has written a research guide for students.

  • A coral reef is the rainforest of the ocean with all its diversity.” – Sam

Presentation Guidelines:

You may use the board, posters, handouts, or a PowerPoint presentation to help provide visual aids. Following your presentation, there will be time for a few questions. You should know your topic well enough to answer all reasonable questions on the topic. Grades will be based on both what you present and how well you know the information.

If you just read a few paragraphs directly from a sheet of paper or from your slides and cannot answer basic questions on your topic without your notes, you should not expect a passing grade on the presentation.

You have studied many physical aspects of the ocean. Include a detailed discussion of at least one of these in your paper and presentation. They include:

  • Understand and describe some important properties of water: Before we can understand the numerous and amazing ways the oceans impact our lives on land, we need to understand some special qualities of water. Properties such as surface tension, capillary action and solvency make water one of the most unique substances on Earth.
  • Explain how waves form and shape the coastline. Understanding conditions on the shore will help us understand some ocean habitats.
  • Describe the differences between wave and current formation and qualities.
  • Explain how ocean currents influence climate on land.
  • Describe and identify ocean floor features Understanding the shape of the ocean floor will help us understand ocean habitats.
  • Analyze different ocean zones of life and categorize organisms that live in each.

Background and Reflective Thoughts

I enjoyed the student presentations and really wish I had thought to video tape them.  To make sure that students were paying attention to other presentations, they were given a sheet of paper to record thoughts and impressions, and this paper was collected:

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I was inspired by many of the presentations and it gave me the idea that, in my mixed CP/Honors Marine Biology class next semester, the honors students (who will have work in addition to the rest of the class) should give presentations to the CP students.

A couple of closing thoughts from the students:

  • Fishing to extinction of species is evolution going in the wrong direction.” – Josh

  • You never think about not having earth’s resources until you do not have them anymore, but by then it is too late. Everyone must be mindful of Earth’s natural resources because so we do not find out one day that they’re all gone. ” – Kelsey

Amen to that.

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Your assignment today is to discover and explore some of the many resources available to navigators and meteorologists and scientists.  When you complete this exploration, you will blog a comprehensive discussion online. In your blog post, you must use headings (to separate ideas), insert links (they are your references), and add pictures (for visual interest – cite them!).  Publish your post and post your url in the schoolloop assignment discussion.noaalogo

Tides Online:

What data is provided on the “State Maps”?  How is it organized?  What is the usefulness of the various pieces of information presented on the state maps?  Are there any special notices or alerts?

Sea Level Trends

Explore the features of this page. Explain the sea level trends depicted. Select a datum point on the east coast as an example.  Show the linear trends graph for your example.

Mean Sea Level Trends for Northwest Atlantic Ocean & Seas Stations

How does the data presentation differ from the previous mapping? In what way does this presentation help understanding?

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Coastal Cleanup Data Indicates Cigarette Butts and Plastic Pieces are the Most Common Items

“This year, more than 7,000 volunteers removed nearly 10,500 pounds of debris from coastal areas, capturing it before it could pollute the ocean. More alarming than the unusual items, says cleanup organizers, is that volunteers removed nearly 207,800 pieces of trash including more than 75,000 cigarette butts, 23,500 plastic pieces and 17,500 bits of plastic foam (the top three items removed).” – excerpt from press release by Surfrider Foundation’s San Diego County Chapter.

Toxicity of cigarette butts, and their chemical components, to marine and freshwater fish

Read the background of this article.  Select some quotes from this article to copy and paste into your post.  Reference this quote and link to the article.  Write a comment to this information.

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Massachusetts Bays Program

What is the status of clamming for human consumption in mass?  How does this relate to tides and currents?

State of the Beach/State Reports/MA/Water Quality

Scroll through this site, making notes of the information contained therein. What information is available to the community on this Beachapedia? What rules apply to beaches and coastlines?  What does this have to do with tides and currents?

 

On the field trip you were given a New England Aquarium scavenger hunt booklet to complete. You were also encouraged to take photographs. Now it is time to share your learning with others, through your blog post.  Your post must answer all the components of your booklet, as illustrated and outlined below.

  • Extended observation of one organism

NEAQ1

  • Report on six exhibits

(You may have substituted the jelly exhibit for one of these.)

NEAQ2

  • Describe the mission of the New England Aquarium and how it is conveyed throughout the exhibits

NEAQ4

  • Share experiences from the touch tank and the giant ocean tank

NEAQ3

Normal criteria for a blog post apply:

  • 150 words
  • pictures (if they are not yours, provide a citation!)
  • links to additional information (at a minimum, provide a link to the New England Aquarium, but other links could take readers to additional information on particular animals, such as penguins)
  • provide appropriate keywords on your post
  • publish and share the link

 

Pizza-Bread-2Below you will see labels for several products commonly used in daily life. Using only a periodic table, locate fifteen compounds in the given products of which you can determine the chemical formula. Write what product(s) it is found in (if found in multiple products list all), and the chemical name in the ingredients list on the package. Determine the chemical formula and whether it is an ionic or covalent compound. Some compounds will be written in an improper chemical way, please correct the name if needed. You must find at least one acid and one covalent compound. You may search for additional, similar product labels.

Scoring: 1 point for every correct formula and classification; +1 for every corrected name

Product Chemical Name on Package Chemical Formula Ionic or Covalent Correct chemical name (if not proper)
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15

 

Short Answer Questions

  1. What was the most prevalent element in all the compounds you found today?
  2. What type of compound was most prevalent, ionic or covalent? __________________ Suggest a practical reason why this might be?
  3. Which type of chemical compound was easier to formulate from the name, ionic or covalent? _____________ Explain why?
  4. Name one compound that contained a polyatomic ion. _______________. What is the charge of the polyatomic ion? What is the formula for the polyatomic ion?

Reflection:

  1. Were any of the products you investigated a product you currently use in your home? What one(s)?
  2. Did you experience a “Wow, I didn’t know that!” moment during your investigation. Did you learn something you want go home and tell your parents about?
  3. How does this activity make you think about chemistry in the physical world?

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Plate Tectonics and the Seafloor

The people who first mapped the seafloor were aboard military vessels during World War II, using echo sounders  to search for submarines. The results produced a map of seafloor depths. Depth sounding continued after the war. Scientists used this information to produce bathymetric maps of the seafloor. During WWII and in the decade or so later, echo sounders had only one beam, so they just returned a line showing the depth beneath the ship. Later echo sounders sent out multiple beams and could create a bathymetric map of the seafloor below. Using the resources provided, answer the following questions, in complete sentences, on your blog. You may copy and paste these questions and resources, to get you started.

Magnetic Stripes

Magnetic Stripes

How We Blog

A blog isn’t about being a blog, rather it is a means for communicating ideas, much as a magazine does. A blog “post”, or article, may be:

  • Responding to and commenting on curriculum topics as we study them
  • Creating written projects/ media projects and commenting on each other’s work
  • Reflecting on coursework and individual learning
  • Reviewing and sharing study strategies before tests and quizzes
  • Practicing taking varied points of view on a topic
  • Discussing current events
  • Making classroom suggestions
  • Creating FAQ pages on curriculum topics

That being said, here are some practical suggestions:

Headings are useful. Things like:

  • Objective
  • Introduction
  • Experimental Results 
  • Conclusion and Analysis
  1. Don’t number things that don’t need to be numbered. Write the procedure as a paragraph. List materials with bullets. Answer questions as stand-alone text.

Use pictures. Cite them. Remember that they must be uploaded – do not copy and paste.

Eyes

Don’t tire me out.

Use white space. One long paragraph in Times New Roman can tire the eyes. Make logical breaks.

Mollusk Analysis

Molluscs, Mollusks, Mollusca

Make your learning a conversation with others!  You have watched the video on mollusks. You have taken notes from the lecture. And you have dissected both a clam and a squid.  Now you must take the information and your studies of the mollusks and write an analysis, a conversation of what you learned. This analysis must be posted on your marine biology blog.

Write your analysis as a discussion or a story. Please do NOT write your analysis as a list of answered questions, even though you have been given a list of questions. The questions below are meant as a GUIDE for your discussion. Insert the answers into a story of your investigation into the world of mollusks.

You will be assessed on 1) knowledge of the subject material; 2) describing the material in your own words and in an interesting manner; and 3) personal contribution to the topic. And please provide illustrations, with citations.

Adaptation and Variation in Mollusks

  • What is the morphological feature of molluscs after which the phylum is named?
  • What are the biological troubles that molluscs face due to their soft body?
  • Into which classes are mollusc divided? What are some representing beings of each class?
  • Is there any body symmetry in the animals you dissected? Describe it.
  • Describe your notes about any textures, shapes and other observable qualities in the animals you dissected.
  • What is the function of the clam’s mantle?
  • How does the locomotion of the squid and clam compare?
  • Why do you think the squid and the octopus have camouflage, whereas the bivalves and gastropods do not?
  • Compare the feeding methods of bivalves and gastropods. Of bivalves and cephalopods.
  • What organs are present in both human and mollusc bodies?
  • Describe the special adaptation that mussels have for surviving strong wave action along the shore.
  • Why is the octopus considered to be so intelligent?
  • What are examples of the ecological and economic importance of molluscs?

Be thorough and complete.