Over Fishing our Oceans....

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SWBAT connect the over fishing of fish in the ocean ecosystem and explore it's effects on food chains and food webs.

Big Idea

Food chains and food webs are what makes the ocean continue to sustain life. What happens when those food chains and webs are disrupted by human over fishing?

Setting the Stage

5 minutes

This lesson follows the lesson on Food Chains and Food Webs. I really want my students to see the impact that humans have on ecosystems and the life that sustains within those systems.  

2-LS4-1 asks students to make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of their lives within an ecosystem.  Food chains and food webs both demonstrate this.  The types of animals and plants that exist within an ecosystem are all dependent upon one another in order to survive. Phytoplankton (the plants within the ocean) and zooplankton (the microscopic living creatures in the ocean) and their dependence on other animals are a big part of the system.  But what if one of the animals in the ecosystem, is a human?

Humans can part of the food chain as well. The question becomes what happens when humans over use the food chain? This lesson demonstrates this question.

While this lesson focuses mainly on the 2-LS4-1, it also integrates many math and social studies standards as well.  

Materials Needed:

I have the platters set up with the beads with spoons put in each section before the lesson begins. 

sorting containers (I used chip and dip platters)

colored beads (must have at least five bead colors)

small spoons

a form of paper money (I used money from Monopoly games)



10 minutes

I ask the children to think back to our lesson the day before on Food Chains and Food Webs.... and ask them to look at the screen.  I have my Power Point ready to go. I created this power point to compliment the lesson on food chains. I used the same backgrounds and clip art to activate the prior knowledge of the lesson.  The learning from that lesson will be important to incorporate and transfer to this learning.  

Slide two through five are the identical slides that are in the Food Chains and Food Webs power point. I want to review with the children what they discovered in the lesson from the previous day, but keeping in my ELL students, I bring the visual back.  

I begin at slide two (slide one is simply the title slide).  I ask the children to turn and talk to their table teams about what they remember about food chains.  I allow them about three minutes to do this. I quickly get their attention and ask for the team leaders to share out in 30 seconds what their team discussed.  After all the children have shared out their remembering, I use slide two and three to reinforce their thinking and move on to slide four. 

Slide four is about food webs.  I use the same procedure to review food webs.

  • Turn and talk
  • Share out
  • Review slides

When we have reviewed our thinking about the concepts, I move to slide five and pose the question for this lesson. "Can a food chain or food web be impacted in any way?"  I purposely choose the word impact, because I know this not a common second grade word, but one I am sure will become more of a tier two word for us in this lesson. 


30 minutes

I begin with Slide seven, it explains what the purpose and what the children will doing during the lesson. I read the information to the children and let the excitement settle in. 

I move to Slide eight and read the information to the children, explaining that we are going to use the beads to simulate fish in the ocean. I anticipate that someone will ask me what kind of fish we are using.  I will clarify for the purpose of the investigation, our beads will just be fish.  At this point, I bring each tray with the beads prepared to the teams. I ask them to remember not to begin using or touching any of the materials until we begin.

This is important...If I do not clarify this first, they will begin before I have fully explained the lesson. It is also helpful to pass these out to the teams before moving to the next slide, because the Slide nine explains the food chain in "our oceans." It is more visual for the students to look at the "ocean" in front of them rather than my showing them.  I also want to explain to the children what 'fishing' will look like in this investigation.  I explain that we will not use fishing poles, but the small spoons they see in their trays.  I demonstrate for them how to use the spoon, explaining that to fish and catch a fish, means they can scoop one fish at a time.  Not shoveling the fish in quickly. This step is critical, if you do not establish this first, the children will probably over fish their oceans in the first season.  I also explain that the fishing season will only last for ten seconds.  (I will use a timer on my Smart Board to manage this). 

Slide ten explains to the students how they will know if they can continue to fish.  I use the word 'sustainability' because again, like the word impact, I know that will introduce another tier two vocabulary word.  I will need to explain to the children what this word means. 

Slide eleven clarifies how much money each fish will be worth.  I explain to the children that not only will we be working on this science standard, we are going to work on math skills as well. Whenever possible, I try to integrate as many curriculum's as possible. My students understand the standards and how they play into our learning, so I am sure this will make sense to them. 

I explain that the team leader for that day will be in charge of the money and sharing it with their teammates after each 'fishing season.' I pass out the money and also the student documentation pages. I only give the children the first two pages of the documentation.  

Once all the ground work of explaining the lesson and what the expectations are, the lesson will move quickly.  

I set the timer for ten seconds, tell my fishermen to get their poles ready and we begin.  The children fish carefully the first season.  Ten seconds will go much more quickly than anticipated. When the buzzer goes off, the children must stop fishing.  They count up their catch and record it on the data gathering sheet. My screen shows Slide twelve, where I can use this to demonstrate how to record the catch if necessary. 

After the first season of fishing and the children have recorded their data, the banker will also pay out the amounts caught for the fishermen. The children will record this on the second recording page. 

I move to Slide thirteen which explains how the fish will replenish themselves.  If there are two of any fish left in their ocean, the fish will have babies and new beads will be added.  

We will continue this same process two more times, following the slides that correspond.  




5 minutes

After all three fishing seasons have been completed, I will stop the class and ask them to look at Slide nineteen. This slide asks the question...."What is left in your ocean?" 

This is when our class discussion will really begin. I ask the children to think back to each fishing season and their results. I remind them that they can look at their data to tell them what happened.  

I ask these questions...

  • Did you have a good successful season the first year?
  • How do you qualify it to be successful? 
  • Do you feel that the fish were able to sustain their breed in the ocean when you continued to fishing?

This is quite a bit to digest for Second Graders.  


15 minutes

I pass out the third documentation page and ask the students to fill in their information. Determining how much money they made and how many fish are left will show what can happen to the ecosystem of the ocean with human fishing factors.  I want the children to see and understand this concept.  The diversity of fish populations are not only dependent upon the other animals in the ocean, but the human animals as well. If we are aggressive with our fishing, what happens to those food chains and food webs? 

Which brings us to further class discussion and Slide 21.  I move through each question slowly and allow the children to share their ideas in a class discussion.  I will save question six for the last part of the lesson as my evaluation tool. 


10 minutes

When the lesson has been completed, I want to know what the children internalized from the learning and I ask them to use our Talking Chips and Discussion cards. (These are cards that I purchased with sentence stems to have quality discourse in a classroom lesson). 

I ask the children to share in their teams, their thoughts to answer question six on the last slide of the power point. 

While they are sharing out, I am circulating and listening to the conversations.  Hoping to hear that humans do have an impact on the food chain and that we must be careful to determine our needs vs. our wants and the ramifications they can have on an ecosystem.