Alaska Sea Grant

Investigation 1 - Where Did the Rubber Bath Toys Go?

Class Time Required

1 class period

Materials Needed

  • Science notebooks

Teacher Preparation

About 1 hour to read story and materials and make a reference map.

Prior Student Knowledge

Basic understanding of how to use a map to locate place names. Understanding of latitude and longitude. Use of an atlas is helpful.

Vocabulary

Derelict, flotsam and jetsam, gyre, rupture
Science GLEs Addressed

6th Grade: SA1.1, SE2.2

7th Grade: SA1.1, SE2.2

8th Grade: SA1.1

grade7_1.gifOverview: This is an introductory investigation to be done in one class period. Students read a true story about bath toys that fell off a container ship and washed up on beaches around the world. Using a world map, they identify, locate, and record the dates and places where the toys were found. Finally, they write a hypothesis about how the rubber toys made their way to the various locations identified.

Focus Question:

How did rubber bath toys lost overboard in the Pacific travel to beaches many miles away?


Engagement: (10 minutes)

Ask the students to read orally as a class or silently to themselves the following story, "Beachcombing Science from Bath Toys" by Curtis C. Ebbesmeyer. If the reading level is too high, ask them to read "Science from Bath Toys. " Discuss the story and information in it to check for student understanding.


Exploration: (20 minutes)

Pass out a photocopy of a world map (use this one or one of your own) with current geographical boundaries. Ask students to re-read the story and find the information in the story about where the rubber bath toys were found. Ask them to locate the places on the map and record them along with the dates that the toys were found. Model the first two or three entries as a class. An atlas or the Internet can be used to help locate any places that are unfamiliar.


Explanation: (20 minutes)

After students have finished plotting the place names and dates on their map, ask them to make a hypothesis about “How did rubber bath toys lost overboard in the Pacific travel to beaches many miles away?” Allow them to talk with a partner for five minutes to help develop their thought processes and understanding of the scientific method. For the next five minutes, have two pairs of students join to make a group of four for further discussion. The students can exchange or borrow ideas based on prior experiences. After the two 5-minute exchanges of information have taken place, ask each student to write their hypothesis in their science notebook.


Evaluation:

Use students’ initial hypotheses to evaluate their prior knowledge of ocean currents. At the end of investigations 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, students will be asked again to answer the question “How did rubber bath toys lost overboard in the Pacific travel to beaches many miles away?” refining their hypothesis at each step and using key vocabulary words and concepts from the investigations.

Students may also be evaluated on the correct labeling of places on the world map of where the rubber toys were found.


Teacher Preparation

Tips from Teachers

Begin with warm-up questions about beachcombing: "What things have you found on the beach?" "How do you think they got there?"

Make copies of the story and the outline map. Read the story and make a map to use as a reference.

 


Extension

Students who wish to learn more about the rubber toys can use books and sites listed under teacher resources.


Curricular Connections

Geography. This is a good opportunity to review places in the world.


Ideas for adapting to different local environment or context.


Materials Needed for Investigation 1:

Student Handouts
Items for Group Display

none

Material Items

Atlas, Internet, or larger scale maps for finding place names

Colored pencils or pens to mark the map, or small “stickies” (dots or stars)

Facility/Equipment Requirements

None

 

Alaska Science Standards and Grade Level Expectations Addressed:

6th Grade:
The student demonstrates an understanding of the processes of science by
SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring, and communicating.*

The student demonstrates an understanding that solving problems involves different ways of thinking by
SE2.2 comparing the student’s work to the work of peers in order to identify multiple paths that can be used to investigate a question or problem. (L)

7th Grade:

The student demonstrates an understanding of the processes of science by
SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring, and communicating.*

The student demonstrates an understanding that solving problems involves different ways of thinking by
SE2.2 comparing the student’s work to the work of peers in order to identify multiple paths that can be used to investigate a question or problem.* (L)

8th Grade:

The student demonstrates an understanding of the processes of science by
SA1.1 asking questions, predicting, observing, describing, measuring, classifying, making generalizations, inferring, and communicating.*

Essential Question:

  • What are the patterns of physical changes in aquatic environments?
  • How do they affect us?
  • What are the major weather and ocean circulation systems in Alaska?

Enduring Understandings:

  • Physical changes in the aquatic environment occur on a daily, seasonal, and long-term basis.
  • Weather systems and ocean systems have major influences on one another and the dynamics of matter and energy.
  • Science and technology can be used to detect and solve problems.

 

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