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Archive for the ‘Marine Biology’ Category

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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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

 

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Sustainability-dimensions-and-examples-3241422We can describe “sustainable resources” as renewable resources which are being economically exploited (used) in such a way that they will not diminish or run out.  People want or need to use the ocean’s resources but a balance must be maintained to ensure that they will be there for the future.

Over the past two weeks you have heard about marine conservation work, watched the movie “Blackfish”, and read from the text book about marine resources. With this classwork as a backdrop, blog about the following:

  1. What role does the marine wildlife and nature play in your life?
  2. How does the use of marine resources impact you on a personal level?
  3. Specifically, what new thoughts do you have about marine resources and the way they are used by people?

Finally, what Code of Ethics will you take to protect marine resources both now and in the future?

Criteria for assessment of your blog post:

  • at least three paragraphs in length (a paragraph is 8 – 10 sentences long);
  • each answer includes supporting information;
  • there is a link to a site that provides more information about a particular resource discussed;
  • a picture that provides applicable visual interest is embedded, with a citation to the original source.
isrimage1

Photo credit: UCL Inst. for Sustainable Resources

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Floating Lab Field Trip

Oceanography students were blessed with a picture perfect day for their field trip with the UNH Marine Docents Floating Lab Program on October 4, 2013. This program took place on a fishing boat rented from Eastman’s Docks in Seabrook, NH and consisted of five separate lab activities, each about 25  minutes long. The five labs were:

  • Plankton sampling
  • Charting a position
  • Benthic organisms
  • Water sampling
  • Georges Bank Fish

Students were grouped into five groups and rotated through the stations. Each station had two marine science docents, so the student-to-teacher ratio was no more than 1:3! This was a wonderful opportunity to get some authentic learning for high school students. We also took advantage of a sandy beach lesson after lunch. Each station is briefly described below.

Trawling For Benthics

Before any of the activities got underway, we trawled for benthic organisms and the students helped pull up the catch.

Bottom trawling is a benthic sampling technique that uses a net dragged along the bottom of the water body to collect organisms living there, for further study. The device used in this program is shown in model form in the image below. If has floats on the top of the net and weights on the bottom of the net to keep the net as open as possible. For purposes of scientific study, it provides a “grab” sample of a small area and facilitate habitat mapping studies. Since trawls are destructive in nature, they are not to be used in fragile habitats.

A model of the trawling net is used to explain its operation

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The trawl line dragging behind the boat

Students line up and grab a piece of the trawl line rope to pu it up.

Many hands make light work.

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Plankton Catch

Students used a standard plankton net – and I forget the size mesh – for taking a plankton sample. The critters were then rinsed down the mesh and collected in a box, where students could take a sample for viewing. The viewing container, I believe this is a DiscoveryScope, is a little clear rectangular box that fits together. This viewing box then fits onto a frame with a magnifying glass to look through. I could not get any pictures through the view box but some of the students were able to.

Stunning students sampling plankton

Working a plankton sampling net

Viewing box to see the plankton collected

Charting Your Position

At this station students determined their location in Hampton Harbor using a portion of the marine chart and parallel rulers. We had tried a similar activity in class, but did not have any parallel rulers, and this – being on the water bobbing around and looking for water towers and high tide lines – gave a more honest representation of how to plot your location. The students also had real compasses, rather than their iPhone compass, which further improved the activity.

Docent showing the Georges Bank Chart

Learning how to use a parallel ruler

Benthic Organisms

The best way to describe what was pulled from the bottom is to show you the pictures.

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Tough guy crab

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Baby lobsters

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Sea squirt

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Red algae

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Baby mussels and tunicates

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Front box: barnacles feeding

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Sandollar, baby flounder, and red algae

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Adult female lobster with thousands of eggs on swimmeretes

The lobster in this picture was quite large with an impressive number of eggs on the swimmeretes.  I wish I had gotten a better picture

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Two baby lobsters with a Jonas crab

Water Sampling

Students setting up a Van Dorn bottle, horizontal water sampler, to take water sample.

<img class=" wp-image " id="i-2158" title="Students take water samples at 5m depth" alt=""

Students take water samples at 5m depth

1003131018Georges Bank Fish

Thinking about what fish use Georges Bank, what they eat, where they live, and their abundance.

Afternoon Sandy Beach Program

We had a 45 min break for lunch (yay! beach pizza from Tripoli’s!) and then one last activity on the beach: How do beaches form? Students examined and compared high, mid, and low-tide sands as well as the wrack line, and made nifty little booklets about what they uncovered.

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Student Assignment

Students who went on this field trip are to blog their learning, choosing from one of the questions below or creating their own:

  • How was your ocean literacy changed?
  • What is one thing you learned today?
  • Choosing just one of the floating lab stations, what value did you get from the station?
  • How did this field trip help you understand marine science?
  • How did the field trip illustrate methods used by scientists in the real marine science investigations?
  • What do you understand better now, as a result of the learning stations?

All statements must be supported with evidence (examples), and have follow-up from additional sources (links). The usual two paragraph minimum with a related picture applies. The pictures Ms. Goodrich took are here.

Kudos

It was a good day. The weather was spectacular. The students were engaged in real, honest-to-goodness science practices. And the staff of both Eastman’s and the UNH team were great.

Thanks goes out to Dari Ward at UNH for organizing this wonderful ocean literacy program. The docents on this field trip were extremely professional, knowledgeable, friendly and experienced. They enhanced the program considerably with these qualities.  The program itself is funded through a New Hampshire Sea Grant.

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You have been challenged to design a practical underwater laboratory, or habitat, for aquanauts to live and work  for one to two weeks while they conduct marine science research. The considerations you’ve been ask to account for in your design are:

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One thing that you are not taking into consideration is the practicality of building your aquapod and assembling it underwater.

A network of focused experimental sites are being constructed in the Northeast Pacific Ocean to serve researchers, students, educators, and policymakers and begin “a new era of scientific discovery and understanding of the oceans”. The research stations are not habitats for living in but rather a series of sites with an array of monitoring equipment for monitoring chemical, physical, biological, and sediment conditions.

Your task today is to:

  1. Read the news article describing the observatory.
  2. Watch two or three three short videos of the work being undertaken. I suggest Dive 1482 Highlights, Dive 1604, and Dive 1596 Highlights.
  3. Read the National Geographic article Huge Molasses Spill Off Hawaii: A Diver’s Report.
  4. Write a two to three paragraph blog post that reflects either:  a) your thoughts on the observatory installation (How tricky is it to build an underwater research station? What considerations must be accounted for?); or b) your thoughts on the effects of the molasses spill (How should people respond to this? Could this have been prepared for? What should be done next?).

That’s it: two to three paragraph blog post on one of the above topics (but read both). Make sure you label your post, include cited pictures, and include at least two hyperlinks to further information.

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Students in my classes are required to keep an ePortfolio and to blog their work.  This post provides background and guidelines for the blogging portion of student work. A blog isn’t about being a blog, rather it renders itself as a tool for communicating results, such as:

  • 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

Class blogs are subject to the following rules, which you must agree to:

  • I will not use any curse words or inappropriate language.
  • I will not use fighting words or provoke anyone.
  • I will avoid the use of chat language.
  • I will try to spell everything correctly.
  • I will only give constructive criticism.
  • I will not use my full name, or the name of my classmates.
  • I will not plagiarize.

Please note that all posts and comments are moderated for content before being published.

Consequences of Violating the Agreement

I recognize that breaking any of these rules could lead to any of the following consequences depending on severity and repetition:

  • warning
  • deletion of some or all of the post
  • temporary loss of blogging privileges
  • permanent loss of blogging privileges
  • referral to the school administration

Assessment Rubric for Blog Posts

Category 3 2 1
Content: Topic Specific topics will vary by assignment but must be related to science. Topic is related to school, but not necessarily science. Topic does not relate to science or school.
Content: Body Post includes a 1-2 paragraphs. Post is less than 1-2 paragraphs. Post does not include a summary, but includes a URL to an article.
Sources Blog post includes a hyperlinked references to additional clarifying information. Blog post includes a URL to additional information, no hyperlinks. References  are missing.
Images  Post includes an image with a caption and is hyperlinked to its original source. Post includes the URL for at least 1 image Post does not include an image.
Questions Post includes 2-3 (science-based) questions in your post. Post does not include questions.
Tags or Labels Post includes 2-3 labels or tags. Post is unlabeled and untagged.

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Overall I enjoyed the field trip, more so the outdoor hands on part  than the indoor lesson on the water temperature and other information on the ocean. One thing that i learned was that Irish moss found in he tide pools are used in products such as toothpaste. I remember hearing when I was little that there was seaweed in toothpaste but i never knew which type it actually was. This Irish moss is also used as a filler in other products like gels, pudding, yogurt, and many other products. The one thing that was really surprising was the natural “bug spray” that grows through out Odiorne’s property. This is called Tansy. It is a herb that has a distinct smell to it which in return repels insects and other bugs from coming near it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8-WQUWYg_w. Mr. Hardy compared the tansy plant to a well known deep woods insect repellent, and he said that he was bitten when he had the commercial spray on, but when he used the tansy, he was not toughed by any bug. So overall I enjoyed my trip to Odiorne.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTDCvhy9KWw

– Jake G.

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