The Mural: As students learn new information about their marine creature, they will display it visually along with the words that explain it using labels, captions, text box explanations, headings, or timelines. The mural will offer support for new vocabulary, complex concepts, and serve as a catalyst for discussions. Opportunities to practice the language of marine science should be imbedded frequently. The mural will express the growing collective learning of the class, connecting sea animals to predator, prey, and habitats. As students share what they have learned, they will come to understand how incredibly interesting, unique, and interdependent marine life of the Long Island Sound.
Lesson 1: What is an Estuary? Long Island Sound is an estuary.
Objective: Students will understand the location and characteristics that make the Long Island Sound an estuary.
Activity: Students will write a question web before the lesson and then illustrate and describe in writing the characteristics that make Long Island Sound an estuary in their journal. Students will construct and label a map of the Long Island Sound including the bordering landmasses as well as the Atlantic Ocean and freshwater rivers that feed into it. (Housatonic, Hammonasset, Connecticut, Quinnipiac, and Thames Rivers)
Field Trip to Hammonasset State Park: Field Study
Lesson 2 : Marine Life of the Long Island
Objective: Students use evidence (shells, egg casing, sea weed) from the shore as a question focus and to make predictions about the sea creatures that may live in the Long Island Sound. Then students will carry out research and investigations to answer their questions and verify predictions. In the end, students will share their learning to develop a list of sea life in the Long Island Sound. From this list, student will each choose a marine creature to become the expert of through this unit.
Lesson 3: Exploring Marine Life in the Sound
Objective: Students will develop questions related to the unique physical characteristics of their sea animal and then search for the answers with particular interest in how and why the physical features help them survive.
Activity: Students will illustrate and label the parts of their sea creature in their journal then build a model of their creature to be placed on the wall mural.
Lesson 4: Marine Zones: Pelagic, Epipelagic, and Benthic Zones
Objective: Students will understand that the water column is divided into zones and these zones have unique characteristics suited to life within it.
Activity: Students will illustrate, define, and label ocean zones in their science journal and then find out where their creature lives and why.
Mural: Create water zones by hanging blue paper. Ask students to mark and label marine zones; pelagic, epipelagic, and benthic zones.
Mural: Each student will place their marine creature in its zone.
Lesson 5: Life Cycles
Objective: Students will learn that each creature has unique stages of their life cycle that contribute to the balance of the ecosystem.
Activity: Students will research, illustrate, and write about the life cycle of their creature, in their journal as well as on the wall mural to include the birth, infancy, juvenile and adult stages.
Wall Mural: Students will post the different stages of their marine animal's life cycle in action and label it.
Lesson 6: Predator and Prey: Food Webs and Food Chains
Objective: Students will understand that the food chain and web are ways of transferring energy from one creature to the next through what a creature eats( prey) and what eats it(predator). Producer (plants) and then levels of consumer in trophic levels will be discussed. Students will understand that a food chain illustrates the line of dependence from one animal to the next, whereas, the food web illustrates the broader interdependence of the marine life in relation to their prey and predators.
Activity: Students will develop their own questions about their sea creature's prey and predators and then illustrate the food chain and web in their science journal.
Mural: Survival in action: In addition to the food chain and web, students will add their creature eating its prey and hiding from or being eaten by its predators in action on mural. Colored ribbon can be used to connect predators and prey in food chains, which students will see develop into the creation of the ecosystem's food web.
Lesson 7: Ecosystems: Function and Structure
Objective: Students will understand that an ecosystem is the relationship between the animal(s) and the environment. Specific environmental characteristics of an estuary will be discussed such as, salinity, water temperature, depth, light, oxygen, and water movement.
Activity: Students will apply the fundamental elements of an ecosystem to their individual sea creature including the specific characteristic of the water and environment needed for the creature survival. Questions will be generated from this focus. Students will construct a visual description of their marine creature's ecosystem in their journal and then add new information to the class mural.
Mural: Each student will illustrate and label additional elements of the ecosystem.
Lesson 8: The Big Picture- Connecting the Dots
Objective: Students will share the unique qualities of their marine animal and how it fits into the ecosystem. This will connect all the marine life (the individual parts) to the whole ecosystem, revealing the complex interdependence of marine life and the waters of the Long Island Sound.
Activity: What If Game. Student will explore scenarios of change within the ecosystem, and predict outcomes.
Activity: Who Am I? Students will take turns being "It." Each student will ask one question at a time about the sea creature of the chosen student until someone is able to guess its name.
Activity 9: Class Book: Marine Life of Long Island Sound: Each student will have a page to illustrate, label and describe their marine animal in its habitat including its life cycle, predators, and prey.
Schooner Trip: Exploring marine life on the water of the Long Island Sound
Unit Extensions: Adaptations, Evasive Species, Conservation