Middle School: Understanding White Sharks
Photo credit: Dr. Chris Lowe, CSULB Shark Lab
This unit was developed by the K-12 Alliance @WestEd as part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The team responsible for its development got chummy with the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach, working with them as a partner. The unit has undergone classroom field testing and expert review.
Rating: Example of High Quality NGSS Design
Awarded the NGSS Design Badge
Science Discipline: Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science
Numerous reports suggest an increase in white shark encounters in the United States in recent years and the public is worried. In this integrated middle school unit, students engage in three-dimensional learning that enables them to explain the phenomenon. White sharks in the coastal waters of Southern California serve as a case study for students to ask questions and build understanding. Students initially question if white shark encounters are in fact increasing and investigate reports of sightings. They wonder if we know whether or not the population is on the rise, leading students to next explore past evidence from fossils and data from historic fishers logs. Students then question how scientists today are monitoring white sharks, setting the stage to explore the use of modern tracking devices (digging deep into waves and signals) and what researchers know about white sharks because of the application of this technology. This opens up the opportunity for students to question and consider what the science community has learned about white shark life history, how humans have impacted the white shark population off Southern California, and to devise a way to address public concerns.
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