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Lesson Plans Library 6-8 > Ecology
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Blue Planet: Open Ocean
Grade level: 6-8 Subject: Ecology Duration: One or two class periods
 


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Objectives
Students will
  • research facts about animal species featured in the video;
  • prepare illustrated cards with facts; and
  • create a food-web display.
Materials
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Print resources about marine organisms [See procedure #4.]
  • Index cards (4 by 6 inches)
  • String
Procedures
  1. As a class, review the definitions of the following terms:

    • food web: a way of showing how plants and animals in a habitat depend on each other
    • habitat: the place where a plant or animal naturally lives or grows; an ecological community
    • predator: an animal that kills other animals for food
    • prey: an animal that is hunted by another for food

  2. Have students share their examples with the class.
     
  3. Ask students to give examples of predators and prey featured in the video. Examples:

    • Manta rays are predators of surgeonfish.
    • Young yellowfin tuna are common prey for spinner dolphins.

  4. Explain to students that they will research one animal from the video, including whether it is predator, prey, or both; how it helps other species survive; and how other species help it survive. On index cards, students will illustrate an animal and include the information below.

    • Name of animal species
    • Size (length or height and weight; give a range)
    • Physical characteristics
    • Where does this animal species live?
    • What is its habitat?
    • Is it prey? (if yes, list predators)
    • Is it a predator? (if yes, list prey)
    • Both prey and predator?
    • Does it help other species survive?
    • How do other species help it survive?
    • Fun fact

  5. To help students select an animal from the video, you may provide the following list:

    • plankton
    • hammerhead shark
    • triggerfish
    • spinner dolphin
    • baleen whale
    • striped marlin
    • sardine
    • manta ray
    • surgeonfish
    • yellowfin tuna
    • spotted dolphin
    • sailfish
    • mackerel
    • blue shark
    • pilot whale
    • sunfish
    • jellyfish
    • olive ridley turtle
    • shearwater

  6. Have students use print and online resources in their research. These Web sites may be helpful:

  7. Have the students present their research findings and pin their completed index cards on a bulletin board. After all the cards are hung, use string to connect interdependent species. Example: Striped marlins eat sardines, so a string connects those cards. You may want to ask for student volunteers to make the connections.
     
  8. Discuss the food web created by the class. Which species are only predators and which are only prey? Which species are both predators and prey? Have students consider what would happen to the food web if one species were to become endangered or extinct. Which species would be affected? Would it be limited to only those that are directly connected? Discuss the importance of every species within the food web.

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Evaluation
Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • Three points:Students thoroughly researched an animal species and included answers to all questions and accurate illustrations on their index cards; were highly engaged in class discussions and named several species from the video; participated fully in creation of food-web display.
  • Two points:Students researched an animal species and included answers to most questions and mostly accurate illustrations on their index cards; were engaged in class discussions and named one species from the video; participated somewhat in creation of food-web display.
  • One point:Students had difficulty researching an animal species and included answers to few or no questions and inaccurate illustrations on their index cards; were not engaged in class discussions and named no species from the video; did not participate in creation of food-web display.

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Vocabulary
food web
Definition:A way of showing how plants and animals in a habitat depend on each other
Context:All organisms in the ocean, from baleen whales to tiny plankton, are essential members of the marine food web.

habitat
Definition:The place where a plant or animal naturally lives or grows; an ecological community
Context:Shearwaters are birds that do not live in the ocean, but they play an important role in the marine habitat.

plankton
Definition:Masses of tiny plants and animals that drift in the water
Context:Baleen whales eat plankton by filtering them from the water.

predator
Definition:An animal that kills other animals for food
Context:Manta rays are predators of surgeonfish.

prey
Definition:An animal that is hunted by another for food
Context:Young yellow-fin tuna are common prey for spinner dolphins.

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Standards
This lesson plan addresses the following standards from the National Science Education Standards:
  • Structure and function in living systems
  • Populations and ecosystems
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms

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Credits
Joy Brewster, freelance curriculum writer, editor, and consultant

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