VA SEA Lesson Plans

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Below are classroom-tested science lesson plans created for VA SEA by science graduate students. To view or download the full lesson plan, click on the lesson plan's title.




2019 Lesson Plans 
Lesson Title / Thumbnail Grades Subject(s) Author Download
Files

Expedition Sediments: Mud's Journey through the Watershed
Expedition Sediments is a game-in-a-lesson that allows students to explore the movement of sediments through watersheds by moving around the classroom. This lesson explores how grains of estuarine mud and sand move throughout estuaries and coastal regions, with a focus on processes surrounding a highly populated estuary such as the Chesapeake Bay. By the end of the lesson, students will be able to explain how sediments are transported through an estuary, graph sediment residence times in different locations, and compare the timescales of different sediment transport processes.

9-12

Earth Science / Environmental Science

Jessie Turner (VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Whose Fish?
This activity invites students to assume the role of various stakeholders in fisheries management and actively discuss the influence of economics, ecology and human interactions in decision-making. Students will demonstrate their argument for/against a certain regulation by participating as a specific stakeholder (i.e. commercial fisher, recreational fisher, scientists/researcher, environmental group, management agency, and citizen). Students will recognize that stakeholders tend to advocate based on their individual needs, often making it difficult for proposed policies to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders and achieve sustainability goals.

9-12

Life science / Biology

Environmental Science

Marine / Ocean Science

Shelby White (VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

 

Prismatic Little Plankton
This is a hands-on interdisciplinary activity that incorporates the fun of biology into physics! Students participate in chromatography experiments to investigate the properties of plant pigments found in various fruits and vegetables, representing pigments commonly found in various species of marine phytoplankton. The students then apply what they've learned to create and analyze a chromatogram of a mystery "algal" sample to determine which species of phytoplankton are in the sample based on the pigments present. This activity simulates phytoplankton community analysis research done using High Performance Liquid Chromatography at VIMS.

9-12

Life science / Biology

Physical Science / Chemistry

Marine / Ocean Science

Kristen Sharpe (VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

 

Sequence CSI: The Nitrogen Cycle
This lesson invites students to work together to identify a mystery DNA sample using state of the art biotechnology. After identifying the organism, they can work with another group of students to hypothesize about how the different organisms are related to one another. Students will learn that the samples are connected through the nitrogen cycle! This gives students an introduction to scientific molecular techniques and environmental nitrogen cycling.

9-12

Life science / Biology

Environmental Science

Marine / Ocean Science

Stephanie Wilson (VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

 

Trawling through the Five Gyres: A Microplastic Research Study
This activity challenges students to help researchers understand what types of plastics are polluting the oceans! Teachers will prepare samples of microplastics that were collected in each of the 5 ocean gyres, mimicking plastic concentrations actually found in the oceans! Working as a group, students will count the items of plastic and graph their results. They will share their results with the class to compare their gyre to the other four gyres. Finally, students will understand the link between ocean microplastic pollution, and our use of single-use plastics. This activity can be completed in 45 minutes in the class. An additional challenge activity is included, that can be used as a 30-45 minute in-class activity or homework assignment.
6

VA 6th Grade Science

Life Science / Biology

Earth Science

Marine / Ocean Science

Meredith Seeley
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Wolffish: A Tale of Missing Teeth
This lesson plan asks students to make observations based on photographs of real specimens from a natural history collection. Students collect data to make graphs, which allow them to compare trends for how different variables impact the ecology of Atlantic Wolffish.

6-8

Life science / Biology

Marine / Ocean Science

Kate Bemis (VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

 Powerpoint

2017 Lesson Plans
Lesson Title / Thumbnail Grades Subject(s) Author Download
Files
Counting Blue Crabs in the Bay!
This lesson plan invites students and teachers to ponder the question: How many blue crabs are in the Chesapeake Bay, and where do we find them? Through hands-on activities and the use of real data, students will discover the excitement and grapple with the challenges faced by marine scientists as they try to quantify the use of different habitats by marine animals and estimate the size of marine animal populations.
6-8 Life Science / Biology

Environmental Science

Marine / Ocean Science
Bruce Pfirrmann
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Dissecting Data
This lesson plan encourages students to become scientific investigators to determine which fish species are important predators of juvenile blue crabs in Chesapeake Bay. Students will have the opportunity to practice using triple-beam balances and draw conclusions based on their data.
6-8 Life Science / Biology Amanda Bromilow
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Student Handouts (PDF)

Marine Parasites and Fish: How to Sample and Analyze
This lesson plan provides a hands-on way for students to investigate the impacts of an invasive parasitic nematode which has been targeting the American eel. Students will first “infect” pipe cleaner eels with parasitic nematodes (beads), which will then be used to simulate real-life research efforts through collecting multiple random samples of “eels” and counting the amount of parasites. They will then use this data to calculate prevalence, mean intensity, and mean abundance.
6-8 Life Science / Biology

Environmental Science

Marine / Ocean Science
Zoemma Warshafsky
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Microscopic Hitchhiking: Taking a Trip with Microbes and Plankton
This lesson plan develops concepts on food webs and ecological relationships, giving special attention to microorganisms and Chesapeake Bay species and dynamics. Students will conduct investigations, generate their own data and find out more about species they constantly see!
6-8 Life Science / Biology

Environmental Science

Marine / Ocean Science
Lucia Safi
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Student Handouts (PDF)

The Mystery of Ocean Acidification
This lesson plan invites middle-school students to solve a mystery: what is ocean acidification and how is it affecting marine life in the Antarctic? To solve the mystery, students will participate in an ocean acidification scavenger hunt, and propose hypotheses and arrive at their own conclusions with interpretation of real-time data from the Antarctic.
6-8

Life Science / Biology

Environmental Science

Physical Science / Chemistry

Marine / Ocean Science

Tricia Thibodeau
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Plastic as a Habitat for Bacteria and Human Pathogens
This lesson plan invites 7th grade life science students to investigate marine plastic pollution as a habitat for bacteria and human pathogens. Students will examine the hazards of marine plastic pollution and learn about current science. They will have the opportunity to use data to create graphs and discuss patterns.
6-8 Life Science / Biology Amanda Laverty
(ODU)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Student Handouts (PDF)

Images (PDF)

Graph (Excel)

Sea Turtle CSI: A Graphing Activity
This lesson plan invites seventh grade students to take on the role of detective to determine the time of death of the stranded turtle that washed up on shore. Students will make observations and use evidence-based reasoning to turn qualitative data into quantitative data
6-8 Life Science / Biology

Environmental Science

Marine / Ocean Science
Bianca Santos
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Student Handouts (PDF)

Seagrass Survivor
This role-play and decision-making game allows students to simulate predator-prey interactions between fish and blue crabs in a seagrass bed. Students will then make inferences about the influence of habitat and body size on juvenile blue crab survival.
6-8 Life Science / Biology

Environmental Science

Marine / Ocean Science
Amanda Bromilow
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Student Handouts (PDF)

Sexual Dimorphism in Shrimp
Best suited for advanced high school students, this lesson offers an example of how a biologist uses morphometrics to test hypotheses about sexual selection and evolution in snapping shrimp. Students use software (ImageJ) to measure carapace and claws of two shrimp species with contrasting lifestyles. Students can take measurements themselves using ImageJ, and then analyze using Excel.
9-12 AP/IB Life Science / Biology Solomon Chak
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Student Handouts (PDF)

Teacher Handout (PDF)

Images (Google Drive)

S. yano spreadsheet (Excel)

S. regalis spreadsheet w/ T-test (Excel)

Stakeholders of the Chesapeake: Curse of the Eastern Oyster
How do we decide how to manage oysters and who has a stake in that management decision? Students are placed in the role of a stakeholder group who cares about what happens to the Eastern oyster and asked to rank management priorities from the perspective of their group and others. Through viewing oyster management through a single perspective, students can begin to understand that balancing stakeholder’s views in setting policy and management is challenging.
6-8 Life Science / Biology

Environmental Science

Marine / Ocean Science
Taylor Goelz
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Student Handouts (PDF)

Can’t Catch My Breath! A Study of Metabolism in Fish
This lesson plan invites high school students to ask questions and formulate hypothesis regarding the drivers behind observed differences in metabolism in different fishes. Students will practice calculating metabolic rate, making biologically relevant inferences about the lifestyles of different fishes based on their findings, and formulate questions that would guide future studies.
9-12 Environmental Science

Marine / Ocean Science

Life Science / Biology
Gail Schwieterman
(VIMS)
Lesson Plan (PDF)
The Watershed Game: Land Use & Water Quality
This lesson plan is a hands-on activity that allows students to explore how water and nutrients are transported from a watershed with three different land cover types and eventually ends up in a nearby stream.
9-12 Environmental Science

Marine / Ocean Science

Life Science / Biology
Shanna Williamson
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Student Handouts (PDF)

Wonderful Wetlands: Why do we need them and what can they do for us?
This lesson plan introduces students to a variety of different types of wetlands and how they function in the coastal environment. Students will work through activities that illustrate the economic importance of wetlands and the services wetlands provide, as well as building conceptual models of wetlands to illustrate these points.
9-12

Environmental Science

Marine / Ocean Science

Life Science / Biology

Amanda Knobloch
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Student Handouts (PDF)

Earthquakes, Glaciers, and Sediments, Oh My!
This lesson plan is developed for 9th grade earth science classrooms, but can be scaled up or down. Students will explore how marine sediments serve as a history book for geologic activity. They will collect mock cores and developing conclusions about earth history.
9-12

Earth Science

Environmental Science

Life Science / Biology

Elisabeth Clyne
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Keeping Up with Sea-Level Rise: Salt Marsh Accretion
This lesson uses a hands-on demonstration to give students an understanding of how this critical ecosystem can keep pace with sea-level rise. Students will have the opportunity to make and test hypotheses about how different animals can affect salt marsh resilience, after learning about simple ecological interactions.
9-12 Earth Science

Marine / Ocean Science
Bethany Williams
(VIMS)

Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Student Handouts (PDF)

How Green Is It? Learning Light and Electromagnetic Spectrum Properties By Measuring Algae
This lesson plan allows students to apply knowledge of light absorption and reflectance to reveal information about an invasive species in the environment. Students will incorporate art and quantitative analysis to form and test a hypothesis through plotting provided data, interpreting graphs, and answering discussion questions that require deeper thinking.
9-12 Physical Science / Chemistry

Environmental Science

Life Science
Alice Besterman
(UVA)
Lesson Plan (PDF)

Powerpoint

Student Handouts (PDF)

Questions? Contact:

Sarah Nuss
mcguire@vims.edu
804-684-7878