Grade 4 - The Case of the Missing Sea Otter
A 3-5 Week Science Unit for Intermediate Level
In what ways are organisms in aquatic environments connected to each other?
- Organisms in aquatic habitats interact with and depend on one another in various ways.
- An ecosystem is a community of living things with its physical environment, functioning as a unit.
- Science is a way to help us study the many connections in our world.
This unit is designed for 4th grade but could be adapted for use at any of the intermediate grades. Students develop an understanding of how organisms in aquatic environment are connected to each other through four investigations that weave together the story of “The Case of the Missing Sea Otter.” Students participate in a sampling simulation, make predictions, and try to solve the mystery of the missing otters. They then apply their knowledge of ecosystems to their local aquatic environment. Finally, students share their collected data with other classrooms around the state.
Ocean Literacy Principles Addressed:
- The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.
- The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.
Investigation 1: The Missing Sea Otters (4-5 days)
What is an ecosystem?
How do scientists learn about ecosystems?
Investigation 3: Interconnections
How do organisms in an ecosystem depend on and interact with each other?
Investigation 4: Our Nearby Ecosystem (3-5 days)
What are the elements of our local aquatic ecosystem?
After completing the four investigations, students share their learning through a school-wide celebration, and share their collected data with other classrooms around the state.
Jennifer Thompson, Teacher, Gastineau School, Juneau
Elissa Borges, Teacher, Gastineau School, Juneau
Paula Savikko, Teacher, Gastineau School, Juneau
Marilyn Sigman, Scientist, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Homer
Stephanie Hoag, Curriculum Consultant