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Lim, Nicci Tucker, Ryan Parks
| The goal of this project is to
increase knowledge and awareness about sharks and their conservation.
This will be accomplished through teaching the students to take an
active role in their learning about shark conservation, anatomy, and
history. It will teach them about sharks to help give them a better
understanding of these creatures. *Key Words: conservation, life history
and information, dissection, games
|third through sixth grades
-Optimal class size: 20-30 students
description or introduction
The scientific principles
that the activity is founded on.
|This project is to educate
students about sharks. More specifically, to give the students hands
on activities where they can learn through personal experience. The
incorporation of three activities allows students to learn: a)Shark
anatomy and life history b)Shark conservation and facts about conservation
c)The concequences of overfishing and a long gestation period for
most sharks The activities are designed to encourage the students
to think and ask questions in order to take an active role in learning
new things. There are three different areas in this station. There
is the shark background and dissection (optional), the shark conservation,
and an outdoor game that demonstrates the depletion of sharks in the
wild. Scientific principles include: biology, anatomy, ecology, and
GENERAL SHARK INFORMATION: Sharks belong to the class Chondrichthyes.
Chondrichthyes are fishes that have a cartilage skeleton. There
are more than 350 different species of sharks that vary in size,
behavior, and the way they reproduce. Sharks are believed to have
evolved from "primitive heavily armored, sluggish fish called placoderms",(Grolier,
1999), about 450 million years ago (mya). They are remarkably successful
creatures with few parasites or diseases, and no natural enemies.
The evolution of a cartilaginous skeleton reduced weight and assisted
in buoyancy control. Evolution has also allowed sharks to occupy
every ocean in the world but the Antarctic. A few major features
separate Chondrichthyes from other living fishes. Well developed
jaws, paired nostrils, pelvic and pectoral fins, and an enlarged
liver for bouyancy. Chondrichthyes differ from Osteichthyes by having
dermal denticles, cartilage skeleton, and teeth that are replaced
throughout their life. (ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FISHES; 2nd edition, Charles
R. Crumly PhD., Senior editor 1998) "For centuries, people around
the world have caught sharks and taken their teeth and skin to make
a wide variety of objects.... Early people who caught sharks had
great respect for these magnificent predators. Fishing for sharks
with primitive tools was difficult and dangerous, and stories and
legends about sharks were common among seafaring and island people.
Sharks were even regarded as gods and were worshipped on some islands
in the Pacific. In comparison, early Europeans have few myths about
sharks, but sharks do appear in their early natural history books.
SHARK CONSERVATION: Sharks mature slowly and produce a small amount
of eggs, thus creating a slowly growing shark populations. One example
of slow reproduction we will use in our activity is the spiny dogfish,
that has the longest know gestation period of any vertebrate, 20-24
months. This puts a large strain on sharks when there is a high
demand for shark products. Shark fin soup is a popular delicacy
in Asia and one bowl of shark fin soup can cost as much as $100
in US currency. Because of this demand, "finning" is widely practiced.
Finning is when fishermen cut the dorsal, pectoral, and caudal fins
off of the shark and throw the rest of the shark back into the water,
where the shark drowns. This is a highly wasteful and cruel method
of fishing. Although this method is common, the United States Congress
has produced a bill that will ban shark finning in US waters. Sharks
are also victims of fishing nets making them bycatch. They become
entangled in nearly invisible fishing nets. Pollution is a threat
all marine creatures face, trash dumped into the oceans, oil spills,
toxic waste being dumped into the ocean or into rivers that carry
the harmful chemicals out to sea are all threats that endanger the
for the activity
|ORIGINAL IDEA *there may be a similar
childhood game called foxes and rabbits, inventor unknown
time to do the activity
|This activity can be a
three day activity, lasting about one hour each day, or if there is
adequate help, the plan can be broken into three stations and taught
for about 30 minutes per station for a total of 1.5 hours.
|have knowledge about general shark
background, gestation period, anatomy, evolution
|have an understanding of different
shark conservation issues and how to take an active part in shark
|realize the effects fishing is
having on shark populations
Science Education Standards. (NSES)
content standards that this lesson plan covers:
|Since our project focuses
on children in third through sixth grade there are two levels addressed.
For students in third and fourth grade this project will help them
enhance their skills in science. This project encourages the students
to test out scientific questions. They are also encouraged to brainstorm
and come up with reasonable explanations as to the results of their
experiment. “In the early years of school, students can investigate
earth materials, organisms, and properties of common objects. Although
children develop concepts and vocabulary from such experiences, they
should develop the ability to ask scientific questions, investigate
aspects of the world around them, and use their observations to construct
reasonable explanations for the questions posed…. Students should
also learn through the inquiry process how to communicate about their
own and their peers’ investigations and explanations,” (NSES Content
Standards for grades K-4, pg. 121).
|The second standard is met
for the grades fifth through sixth. These students are, “provided
with opportunities to engage in full and in partial inquiries,” (NSES
Content Standards for grades 5-8, 143). The Shark/Fisherman Game allows
the students to participate in a fun activity that requires them to
participate in a visual and interactive activity. This game shows
what happens when sharks are over-fished due to the high demand for
shark fins and other shark products. They are then asked to analyze
what occured after the game and use that to draw up an over all conclusion.
SHARK/FISHERMAN GAME -students and teacher -orange cones -a whistle
-plastic balls (baseballs or soccerballs will work) -paper sailors
hats or shark fin hats (can be made in class out of grey or blue
construction paper and tape or staples) -a watch -(optional) piece
of paper to record year (represented by each cycle), #sharks, and
#fishermen after each cycle and how many cycles it takes until extinction
and fishermen and women are out of jobs.
IN THE CLASSROOM -students can plot data from game on a graph drawn
on the chalkboard.
SHARK ANATOMY SECTION -reference picture showing anatomy of shark
for the teacher -one real, preserved shark for dissection, with
a dissection tray, or photocopied pictures of the external and internal
anatomy of a shark that can be labeled and colored on -for picture
version, students need crayons and pencils for labeling and coloring
parts of shark
1. Some form of card to write the questions/clues and the scavenger
hunt clues on. Make sure they are thick enough so that the pen or
marker ink does not bleed through. Different colored note cards
are suggested. Colored markers to write out the clues and stickers
for decoration might be a nice touch. 2. A couple bags of assorted
candy (depending on class size) if it is the teacher's desire to
reward all of the students. This is not a necessity if there is
a limited budget. 3. Some form of a prize for the team that wins
the scavenger hunt
Engage: The engagement activity for this station/lesson
plan would depend on prior knowledge of shark background. Shark
Hunt is an activity in which the students work in groups of 3 or
4. They are given clues about various shark species or about sharks
in general and the students have to determine the correct answer.
When the student gets the correct answer they will receive a card
with another clue that will help lead them to a part in the room
where a prize is located. This will help reaffirm the information
taught to them and it will encourage them to think about what they
learned and apply it to an interactive activity.
Preparation: For the dissection, the teacher can either
obtain a preserved shark, or use photocopied pictures of the anatomy
of sharks that would allow students to label and color parts of
the shark. The anatomy of the shark will be detailed in the reference
provided, so a brief familiarization is efficient. The shark/fisherman
game requires the use of P.E. equipment which can easily be obtained
from any athletic department or pe instructor. For this game teachers
should review and make sure students know about the "Spiny Dogfish"
and specific aspects such as the very long gestational period (20-24months),
what type of food they eat, and where they live, which is all provided
in the background information of this project. Conservation and
overfishing should also have been adressed previous to completing
this game, although talking about it after the game would also help
to bring up questions and solidify what should be learned from the
game~ (overfishing, low recovery rate, limited food, endangerment,
and extinction). More preparation for this game includes the making
of "fin hats" and or sailor hats. The shark hats should be made
out of grey or blue construction paper, and the teacher is free
to use his/her imagination of how to make a hat.
I. Teacher preparation before the activity takes place
1. After researching for information about sharks and shark conservation,
create a series of questions appropriate for the grade and the class.
a. These can be in the form of actual
questions or they can be set up as clues that the students must
use to determine the right answer. For example: Clue, “ This shark
is named after a tool…” and the answer would be, “The hammer head
2. Next determine a prize for the winning group (up to the teacher’s
a. Also, if it is possible, purchase
a bag or two of candy to give to every group that answers, even
if they are incorrect. This will help prevent them from becoming
discouraged and it might make them feel some sort of accomplishment.
3. Choose a place in the classroom that will completely conceal
a. Try to choose a place that will
be easy to come up with clues for, but not too easy for the students
4. Once the hiding place for the prize is determined, make as many
3x5 note cards as needed, containing clues about the location of
a. These clues are highly suggested
to be in the form of a riddle, like a scavenger hunt. But this can
be a decision made by the teacher.
Procedure for the Activity
SHARK/FISHERMAN GAME: This game is to be conducted outside
or in a gym to allow for running space.
- Designate an area large enough for 30 students, or how ever
many will be participationg, by marking corners with orange cones,this
will represent your "ocean".
- Spread balls out randomly throughout the designated area.
- Designate 1 student to be the "fisherman" and the rest of the
students will become spiny dogfish sharks, wearing their fin hats.
- The "sharks" will attempt to pick up the balls, which represents
food, while avoiding the dreaded "fisherman"
- The "fisherman" will attempt to catch the "spiny dogfish" by
taging them. ~students that are tagged will go out of the ocean
and take the food they caught with them.
- To begin the round, the teacher will blow the whistle to begin,
students will run around trying to complete their tasks ~each
round will last 15-20 seconds ~once the round is over, those sharks
that did not get caught remain in the ocean and for every two
balls they obtained, one shark that was tagged out gets to re-enter
the ocean ~data should be recorded at the beginning of the game,
and at end of each round (#sharks, round# or "year", #fisherman)
~all students tagged out must stay out ~2 ways sharks get back
into the "ocean": 1. another student that was not tagged out picks
up two balls, 2. every two years spiny dogfish give birth, so
every two rounds one student is allowed back into the "ocean"
for every two sharks remaining in the ocean (parents) ~also, every
two years (2 rounds) another fisherman is added to the "ocean",
which can be chosen from those students tagged out and waiting
on the side
- rounds should continue until there are no more sharks for the
fisher men/women to catch
- data should be recorded for each round and saved for later use
BACK TO THE CLASSROOM:
- The teacher can draw a plot of years on the x-axis, and #sharks
and #fishermen on the y-axis (represented by different colored
chalk) and record the data on the chalkboard
- Students can now be taught how to plot data on a graph showing
how the #sharks is decreasing, and the #fishermen is increasing
- Data can then be discussed and the relevent facts and ideas
of overfishing, extinction, and long reproductive cycles can be
solidified and enterpreted through the results of this game.
- For the dissection of a real shark, the teacher should know
how to dissect and follow an instruction guide for the dissection.
- Students can be encouraged to cut and ask questions about anything
they see interesting in the shark
- The teacher should go over exterior anatomy first, and then
- If paper pictures are used, students should be directed through
the external and internal anatomy by the teacher displaying an
- Students should be encouraged to color and label all the covered
parts of the shark
- Students should be encouraged to ask questions about any part
they may see
SHARK HUNT I.
- Have the students get into groups of 3 or 4 depending on class
size. Teachers can assign the groups. a. Have the groups come
up with a team name (a suggestion would be to name the teams with
different shark species)
- Once the teacher has the attention of the class, begin by giving
the instructions. The rules of the game, and the goal of the game.
a. The Rules: After the clue/question
has been read, the group is allowed to discuss the possible answer(s)
for 20-30 seconds (time length is flexible and depends on the
difficulty of the questions/clues). Next, the group that raises
all of their hands first will be given the chance to answer and
if they are right they get a clue card, but if they are wrong
the next group gets to answer. This is when the teacher can hand
out the candy.
b. The Goal: To answer as
many questions/clues correctly and to obtain as many scavenger
hunt clues as possible. Finally, to find where the prize is located
- Begin the activity by asking the questions/clues and allow the
appropriate amount of time for them to discuss with their teammates.
- Then call upon the group that was first to raise all of their
hands. Once they answer, act accordingly. If they are correct,
give them some candy and a scavenger hunt clue card. If they are
incorrect, just give them some candy. Then call upon the next
- Repeat this until all the questions/clues are asked (should
be no more then 25 questions/clues)
- When this is done, allow all of the groups to try to determine
the location of the prize. (Note: The amount of clue cards that
the groups have allow them to have a better chance at locating
the prize, but it does not guarantee that they will be the group
to find it. This allows all of the groups to have the chance to
receive the prize.)
- Once a team finds the prize, have them sit back in their desks.
Pass out more candy or whatever the teacher feels appropriate.
It is important to reward all of the students because it gives
them a sense of achievement and it helps stress that they all
- Finally, initiate a classroom discussion that will summarize
the day. Have the students discuss what they learned through the
activities about sharks and shark conservation.
work sheets, additional web pages
for discussion or conclusion
|What did the shark/fisherman
game demonstrate? Can you explain what you learned?
|Do you think sharks are having
a hard time surviving in real life? Why?
|Do you think other fish may
be becoming endangered from overfishing?
|Do you think sharks might
go extinct in the future? What could you do to help protect them?
|One of the ways to asses if
the students have achieved the goals you wanted to accomplish is to
ask questions that require the students to think and answer with more
then a few words. During the shark conservation aspect of the station/lesson
plan you can begin a discussion about the issues covered. Encourage
the students to take an active role in shark conservation by having
them write letters to their local congressmen and other important
figures in shark issues. Be sure to proof read the letters before
sending them, and have students include as many facts as they can
in the letters and then proofread them before sending them. Shark
Hunt is another way the teacher can assess what the students learned
because it asks the students various questions about sharks and it
rewards the students when a correct answer is given. Students can
be given a quiz over general shark anatomy and life history and discussion
of the issues raised in the shark/fisherman would show if they understood
the goal of the game.
activities which relate to and extend the complexity of the experiment.
|Students can be asked
to research and report statistics and facts about sharks on their
own. Real-world numbers of how many dogfish are estimated to be alive
in the ocean, and how many are caught per year can be found on the
internet. Students could then apply these numbers to the game and
plot graphs and determine if the dogfish may be in danger.
A web address with information on the topic of the activity.
|The Evolution Book, by
Sara Stein 1986; Marine Biology, Third Edition. Peter Castro and Michael
E. Huber, 2000