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Polar Chains and Webs

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Author Contact Information

Sandra Kolb, (TEAntarctica 1996-97 and 1998-99; TEArctic Healy 2000), Poulsbo, Washington  sandrakolb@hotmail.com

Rick Griffith, (TEA Associate), Central Kitsap School District, Silverdale, Washington  rickg@cksd.wednet.edu

Students will put into practice the evaluation component of the scientific method while comparing and contrasting the similarities and differences of the food chains and webs of polar animal life. In this activity, students will learn about classification and ecology through the real life experiences and connections of professionals who have been in the field.

Through developing skills in teamwork and planning, this activity will allow students to understand the similarities and differences of the Arctic and Antarctic, their animal life and the food chains and webs supporting them.

Students will:

· Locate the Arctic and Antarctica on globes and maps

· Identify similarities and differences in Arctic and Antarctic animal life

· Show and explain the food chain of a specific species and the food web of that species while discussing their interrelationships.

Grade Level/Discipline
This activity is taught in 7th grade Life Science classes. It can also be taught in 7th grade World Geography classes.

National Standards
· Unifying concepts and processes in science

· Science as inquiry

· Life Science

Pre-activity set-up
· Schedule Internet and/or library access

· Pre-teach the locations of the Arctic and Antarctica using globes and maps

· Introduce the concept of food chains and webs using locally relevant examples. For example, in the schoolyard bacteria in the ground feed fungi. Slugs, mice and rodents feed from the fungi leading to birds and small animals feeding from them. Dogs and cats may dine on birds and smaller animals.

· Plan fieldtrip logistics for visiting a local body of water (optional, but recommended) for the study and observation of food chains and webs

· Maps and globes

· Poster paper and markers

· Model supplies (individually determined by each team)

Time Frame
(one day = one 50-minute class period)

1 day Pre-teach a locally relevant food chain and explain a food web

1 day Fieldtrip (optional, but recommended)

1-2 days Pre-teach the Arctic and Antarctic

1 day Design a rubric with evaluation criteria

2 days Student investigations

3-5 days Student in-class time for their team’s project (or assign some out of class time)

1 day Presentations to the class with rubric evaluation

Engagement and Exploration (Student Inquiry Activity
· Review terms (predator, prey; food chain, food web; compare, contrast)

· Take students outside to introduce the concept of schoolyard food chains and webs.

· Scheduled guest speaker (preferably a TEA teacher) who has been in the field at one or both poles. This connects a real face to experiences and investigations. If a TEA teacher is unavailable, select good video documentaries to view.

· Lead students to begin to focus on the similarities and differences of the Arctic and Antarctica. Guide students in addressing locations and climate conditions in a compare/contrast format.

· Have students investigate the Arctic and Antarctica on the Internet and in the library.

· Have students establish Internet connections with real people (teachers and scientists) live in the field at the poles or who have been there. Focus on obtaining information about the food chains/webs of penguins and polar bears.

· Recommended, but optional: Students go on a fieldtrip to a local body of water to observe and discuss relevant food chains and webs.

Explanation (Discussing)
Teachers lead the class in brainstorming the replies to the following discussion questions while listing correct responses on a transparency or chalkboard. Discuss misconceptions as they arise.

Teacher guided discussion questions:

· What animal life is found in the Arctic? In Antarctica?

· Why are polar bears in one place and penguins in the other? What does it take for their survival? How does the geographic location address their survival?

· What are the animals that survive both in water and on land?

· What is the food chain/food web and how does it work?

· What are producers and consumers? How does it affect polar bears and penguins?

· Suppose a main species of the food chain is decreased or absent one year possibly due to an environmental condition such as a draught or other unusual extreme weather condition. How would this impact the food chain or web? How might this affect polar bears or penguins?

· How might global warming affect the formation of sea ice? What if there is a year with decreased production of sea ice? What part of the polar food chain is dependent upon the formation of sea ice? How might this influence the survival of various species of the polar food chain during subsequent years?

Elaboration (Polar Applications)
Students work in teams to:

· Make a “Differences-Similarities” list of the animal life of the Arctic and Antarctic.

· Choose to make a model of a food chain for either polar bears or penguins.

· On poster paper, design a food web for the animal selected above.

Once the above student activity assignment is introduced, hold a classroom discussion on possible evaluation criteria of this project. Brainstorm and list on a transparency or other visual aid. Come to a consensus on 3-5 criteria.

For example:

· Thoroughness of preparation

· Presentation

· Teamwork

· Organization

· Originality

· Neatness

· Accuracy

Next develop a simple rubric (i.e. check sheet format of excellent, good, fair, poor) for the evaluation of these criteria. The process of brainstorming, consensus and rubric design will take about one 50-minute class period.

Exchange (Students Draw Conclusions)
Students within teams will discuss and analyze their findings while determining the scope and design of their project. During the teams’ presentation of their project to the class, students will use their posters and models to explain what happened and why. The entire class will then parcticipate with each team in a question and answer time and group discussion.

Evaluation (Assessing Student Performance)
· At the completion of the student project, each team will discuss their findings while presenting their model and poster to the class.

· Teacher and student groups evaluate each presentation using the class rubric. Optional teacher choice to include student evaluation in the grading

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