Oceans seem to evoke an emotional response in most adults and youngsters. All kinds of people are drawn to seashores around the world. These bodies of water have influenced, for many, their way of life, their thinking, their art, their science.
The ocean represents the last frontier on earth. It is promising, challenging and mysterious. The applications of its many promising benefits may be realized only if continued support is given on a national and international level. Where better to start than with our children!
This unit was written for fifth grade, though the information may be adapted for most any grade. When I began writing about the vast subject of the ocean, I tried to write a little about everything; the physical, chemical, geological and biological ocean. With the specifications and time restraints, I found that I had to leave out more than I wanted to. The decisions on what to include seemed endless! Professor Smith advised me to “ . . . get down to the basics,” which is what I have done. I have decided to concentrate this unit on the ocean water—the physical, chemical and geological oceans.
Children learn primarily through three basic modalities: auditory (hearing), visual (seeing), and kinesthetic (feeling, doing,—what we call the hands-on approach), and a combination of any or all three of those methods. All of these methods are included in this unit as well as verbal discussion and critical thinking.
My objectives are: 1. The students will increase their understanding of the oceans. 2. The students will continue to develop their thinking skills. To meet these objectives I used a question and answer format. As with any activity that calls for verbal responses, it is important to use questions that encourage analyzing, synthesizing, and inferring instead of answering with a Yes and No. A discovery / inquiry approach can enrich development in any academic area. We need to encourage the children to investigate, communicate, question and verify.
Why include thinking skills as an objective? Because students have to be able to communicate and to apply reasoning in everyday life.Thinking is a skill that can be improved by continuously and deliberately making the effort to do so. We need to use problem-solving skills and to keep our minds open to new information. These are the ideas I use with my students: * Learn to see the whole picture—Consider what is happening and look at the surroundings. *Be flexible with your thinking—Brainstorm as many solutions, answers, etc. as you can. Try a new approach . Write down your ideas so that you may refer to them. Talk to other people who are trying to solve the same problem. *Practice making decisions—The more you do, the easier it gets. Observe the situation carefully . *Be open to change—Keep a positive attitude toward changes. *Compare—When solving a problem that is difficult, write down all of the aspects (positive and negative) . Compare the columns. Then, Think and Act. I have included some technical information and illustrations for the teacher only. Illustrations to be used for the students, experiments and other integrated activities are also included, and so noted. There is an Experiment Form which you will find at the end of the unit for you to copy for the students to fill out at the completion of their experiments. The bibliography at the end of the unit includes books for the teacher, and the students, and a brief listing of some of the commercial VCR tapes that are available for rental or purchase.
The unit can be introduced in a variety of ways, all intended to whet the student’s imagination and create excitement. One idea is to create a hands-on display of shells from around the world. This display could include corals, sponges, several types of starfish and a buoy. Have one bulletin board hold a blue fishnet (over blue paper) on which is hung various rubber whales, dolphins, porpoise, sea horses, lobsters, crabs, even a sting-ray. Another bulletin board might house a giant mural showing ocean life. A third bulletin board could display posters, magazine and newspaper articles, bulletins from Mystic Aquarium, the New England Aquarium, and the Maritime Center. The shelf or table directly in front of these boards should hold 20-30 books and magazines on all topics that are related to the oceans. Have these non-fiction books (from picture books on a grade 1 level to books on a high school level) include How To Draw books, Ranger Rick magazines, National Geographics, oceanography books, shell identifying books, Time-Life books, etc.. Throughout the unit, don’t overlook video tapes from the Jacques Cousteau series, and the National Geographic Ocean series.
You might want to begin by asking the students several questions like, what are the 5 oceans? Use your classroom maps and globes to locate them while they are being named, and to explain how they are joined. What are some of the things people use from the ocean? What do you think a deep-sea diver might see in the ocean? Why do people need to study the ocean? Why are the oceans important to us and to all life?
As culminating activities, visit the Mystic Aquarium or the Norwalk Maritime Center, and/or the New England Aquarium in Boston.
Some ideas to connect this unit to other subjects are: have the students outline the information; write research papers (some ideas are included as activities in the unit); research careers in oceanography; use the vocabulary words as spelling words; learn what equipment is used to perform various tasks; investigate the robotics being used to explore the oceans; have the students draw (or give them the outline of) the world map and label the continents and the oceans; have small groups work with plaster of paris to make maps of the world labeling the continents and the oceans; make up math word problems using information on the oceans; have the students do independent reading in non-fiction, fiction and biographies and give oral reports instead of wrtitten ones; let this unit be a prelude to learning about life in the oceans; allow the students to conduct some of the experiments in this unit by themselves, working in small groups.
If you make learning fun, then the students will want to learn. Science should not be taught as a separate subject: the students read, write, listen, observe, illustrate, experience and communicate while doing. Students will practice and apply their skills in a meaningful context. Consequently, they will learn and retain more.