Alaska Sea Grant

Investigation 2 - We Search

Class Time Required  2-5 class periods
Materials Needed
  • Science notebooks
  • Research checklist Image
  • Research rubric Image
  • Posters of Aquatic Animals from Investigation 1
  • Resources for research including books, Web sites, videos, magazines, local scientists and other experts
  • Art materials, play props, or other resources for students’ final presentations
Teacher Preparation 30 minutes to read instructions and assemble materials
Prior Student Knowledge

Students will need to have experience or instruction in using their science notebooks.  They will need to have collaborative skills to work in small groups.

Non-fiction reading strategies (i.e. slow pace, checking for understanding, asking questions during reading and rereading for meaning) should be taught previously and/or concurrently.

Students should  be able to write in complete sentences and use organizational skills in their writing i.e. topic sentence with a minimum of two supporting details.

Vocabulary Aquatic, Characteristics, Collaboration, Habitat, Investigation
Science GLEs Addressed

1st and 2nd grade standards: SA1, SC1, SC2

3rd grade GLEs:  SA1.1,  SA2.1, SC 1.2, SC2.2, SG4.1

Investigation 2Overview: Students select an animal to research from a list of teacher-chosen freshwater animals, tide pool creatures, or ocean mammals. They learn that an animal lives within a specific habitat because it is able to meet its needs for food, water, and shelter. Students will develop the understanding that they can find information about specific animals and habitats in books, on the Internet, and from their own local environment and that they can learn from scientists and other experts.

Focus Questions:

What lives where and why?
What lives in the water?

Engagement: (10 minutes)

Allow small groups of students to choose a water animal to research, from a list that you have generated. Use the posters from Investigation 1 to support the inclusion of animals on the list. All group members must come to agreement on the animal that their group will research.

Exploration: (1-3 class periods)

Point out and discuss the headings that you have structured in the students’ science notebooks.

  • Where my animal lives
  • What my animal eats—diet or food sources
  • What eats my animal - predators
  • What is special about my animal that allows it to live in the place that it does?
  • Interesting facts about my animal

Share the Research Checklist and Research Rubric, or create similar ones with students, to make expectations clear.

Give students guidance and time to plan and conduct their investigations, using their science notebooks. Possible suggestions for organizing group research include:

  • Assign each group member a specific focus task such as where the animal lives, what the animal eats, etc.
  • Have one member read a passage of text about the animal, while other students record useful information. Be sure the reader has a chance to record information in their journal at some point in the investigation.

All members of the group should play an active role in the research.

Explanation: (10 minute debriefing at end of each research session, 1-2 class periods to prepare and share presentations)

Allow for group sharing time in the small groups, so that members can share the information they collected in their science notebooks and check to be sure that they are answering questions and giving enough information, using the Research Checklist.

Give students choices of methods to present their findings, in a way that best supports individual learning. Some possibilities are:

  • Create a 3-dimensional habitat to demonstrate understanding. Make a file folder pop-up style diorama (instructions included in Teacher Background) OR use recycled or found materials to create a diorama.
  • Write a scientific report.
  • Sing a song that describes the habitat and animal (see Habitat song in Teacher Background).
  • Create a play to act out an animal in its habitat, with an emphasis on how the animal meets its needs.
  • Make a poster to present information about the animal and its habitat.

Give students time and guidance to prepare and share their presentation.

Elaboration (5 minutes at end of each class session)

Ask students to record questions that come from their research in their science notebooks. Guide students’ investigations to try and answer their questions or pose new questions.


Check to see that every student has recorded some information from their research at the end of each research session. Remind students to write down an “I wonder” type of question before concluding the session. Use the Research Rubric.

Use written question(s) in the science notebook for formative assessment.

Teacher Preparation

Tips from Teachers

No tips are currently available.

Structure students’ Science Notebooks pages with the headings described in the Exploration part of this investigation.
Create list of possible animals for research and gather resources.   
Examine the Research Rubric and Research Checklist and decide if you will use them as is or create your own with students.  If using existing tools, make overhead transparencies and/or copies.  
Choose options for children’s final sharing of research and gather any materials needed.

Determine location for presentations and invite parents, other classes, etc. 

(Optional) Contact local scientists and other experts who might answer students’ research questions by phone or email, or visit the class.

Curricular Connections

Reading. Standards addressed include (2) 1.1.3 Obtaining information using text features and (2) 1.4.2 Restating information after reading text.

Writing. Standards addressed include W1.1 Student writes about a topic, (2) 1.1.2 Writing and organizing thoughts and W1.5, (2) 1.5.1 Student documents sources.

Many reading and writing strategies are incorporated in this lesson. Reading nonfiction text is a second grade skill and teachers should remind students that when they are reading for information, they need not read from beginning to end, but may use the table of contents, the index, and the glossary to retrieve the information quickly.

The research component of the We Search lesson lends itself to introducing the idea of citing sources in research as well as restating information after reading text (Reading [2]1.4.2). Students at this early stage of writing development will need support in managing this information. Strategies for support include:

  • Using sticky notes with the student’s name to mark information to write down later;
  • Providing book titles and author names on a word document list so kids could cut and paste the information into their science notebook;
  • Creating a “cite your research” mini-lesson to model how to write the title and author, then setting up a work space center to do this as kids finish their work with that book or resource.

Ideas for adapting to different local environment or context:
Investigate local resources such as the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office, Native Elder tribal council, and local scientists. Invite knowledgeable local naturalists to visit and share their knowledge and assist groups in the classroom, or to volunteer to answer students’ questions by email.

Materials Needed for Investigation 2:  

Student Handouts
Items for Group Display

Research checklist and/or Research rubric PDF

Material Items
  • Research rubric PDF
  • Posters of Aquatic Animals from Investigation 1
  • Resources for research including books, Web sites, videos, magazines, local scientists and other experts
  • Art materials, play props, or other resources for students’ final presentations 
Facility/Equipment Requirements 

Appropriate location for students to present.

Alaska Science Standards and Grade Level Expectations Addressed:

1st and 2nd Grade Standards Addressed
A1 - Science as Inquiry and Process
SA Students develop an understanding of the processes and applications of scientific inquiry.
SA1 Students develop an understanding of the processes of science used to investigate problems, design and conduct repeatable scientific investigations, and defend scientific arguments.

C1—Concepts of Life Science
SC Students develop an understanding of the concepts, models, theories, facts, evidence, systems, and processes of life science.
SC1 Students develop an understanding of how science explains changes in life forms over time, including genetics, heredity, the process of natural selection, and biological evolution.
SC2 Students develop an understanding of the structure, function, behavior, development, life cycles, and diversity of living organisms. 

3rd grade
Grade Level Expectations 

The student develops an understanding of the processes of science by:
[3] SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring and communicating.

The student will demonstrate an understanding of the attitudes and approaches to scientific inquiry by:
[3] SA2.1 answering, “how do you know?” questions with reasonable answers.

The student demonstrates an understanding of how science explains changes in life forms over time, including genetics, heredity, the process of natural selection and biological evolution by:
[3] SC1.2 describing how some traits (e.g., claws, teeth, camouflage) of living organisms have helped them survive as a species.

The student demonstrates an understanding of the structure, function, behavior, development, life cycles, and diversity of living organisms by:
[3] SC2.2 observing and comparing external features of plants and of animals that may help them grow, survive, and reproduce.

The student demonstrates an understanding that advancements in science depend on curiosity, creativity, imagination, and a broad knowledge base by:
[3] SG4.1 asking questions about the natural world.  

Essential Question:

  • Who lives where and why?

Enduring Understandings:

  • Living things have certain characteristics that help them survive.
  • Living things need food, water, oxygen, and shelter to survive.
  • Science is a way to help us answer questions about the world around us.
Alaska Sea Grant University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Department of Education and Early Development NOAA