Elementary resources: Life science

Two elementary school students on a beach using a tool to pull up animals from the sand.
Students from a Title I elementary school in Santa Barbara participate in LiMPETS sandy beach monitoring as part of their Ocean Guardian Ambassadors program. (Claire Fackler, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries)

A "key" to Alaskan fish ID offsite link

5th - 7th grade • Links to standards
Students examine pictures of ten Alaskan fish species and design a taxonomic (dichotomous) key that can be used to identify them.


An ocean of energy

4th - 6th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Students learn about energy pyramids as a way to understand the energetic relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers in an ocean ecosystem. 


Be a whale researcher

2nd - 4th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Students study humpback whale behaviors and fluke patterns. They learn how to tell the difference between observations and inferences and practice using inquiry and observation skills.


Fish fetch: Fisheries survey activity

K - 8th grade
Students learn how to use sampling to estimate the number of fish in a population.


Let's compare and contrast whales offsite link

K - 2nd grade • Links to standards
Students research a whale species then compare and contrast their whale with another using a Venn diagram. 


Manatee curriculum offsite link

2nd - 4th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Students learn about the biology and ecology of manatees, how humans impact them, and what we can do to protect them. 


Mystery of the dead whale: A forensic marine science unit offsite link

3rd - 12th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
In this short collection of lessons, the classroom is turned into a NOAA ship to solve the mystery of a dead whale. Students collect tissue samples, analyze data, and test real fish for contamination.


Marine Debris Monitoring Toolkit for Educators

4th - 8th grade • Teacher guide • Uses data
Students learn about ocean trash, cleanup, and prevention in this flexible collection of lessons.  


Marine osteoporosis offsite link

3rd - 8th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Students will explore and test how ocean acidification affects different organisms, including humans. Students investigate causes of increased ocean acidity and discuss ways to minimize the impact.


Marine snow

4th - 6th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Students learn how “marine snow,” a shower of organic material falling into the deep ocean, forms, how it is distributed, and the role it plays in the marine ecosystem. 


Northern fur seal curriculum

K - 6th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Students learn about northern fur seal natural history, their importance to Unangam (Aleut) culture, and the sustainability of their population.


Octopus adaptations offsite link

3rd - 5th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Students learn about an octopus’s camouflage and anatomy as adaptations to its environment. 


 

Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay

K - 12th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Students learn about oysters in this extensive K-12 learning sequence. Each grade-specific lesson targets a specific area in the study of oysters.


Sanctuary splash: Acoustics of cetaceans offsite link

4th - 6th grade • Teacher guide • Links to standards
Students will listen to whale vocalizations and participate in simulations of sound perception and efficiency of sound transfer through matter. Students will also gain a basic understanding of how sounds are measured and recorded when studied in a marine environment, and how various cetacean species communicate and are identified by the vocalizations they make.  


Sargassum hide-and-seek offsite link

3rd - 5th grade • Links to standards
Students will learn the role that sargassum, a type of brown algae, plays in the marine ecosystem and research organisms that live in it. 


Shark chalk walk offsite link

3rd - 5th grade • Links to standards
Students research different shark species. They identify sharks by observing their anatomy and looking at the type of prey that the shark eats.


Starfish adaptations: Peer taught offsite link

2nd - 5th grade • Links to standards
Students observe, explore, dissect, and compare sea stars to understand which particular traits make them successful in their habitat.


Where in the world does my seafood come from? offsite link

4th - 8th grade • Links to standards
Students research the ecosystems, food webs, and historical population levels of the fish found in their local grocery store and present what they learned to the class.


Winged ambassadors offsite link

5th - 12th grade • Teacher guide • Uses data • Links to standards
In this collection of five lessons, students learn about albatrosses, their migration patterns, and how they are impacted by marine debris.  


Zooplankton migration patterns offsite link

1st - 12th grade • Teacher guide • Uses data • Links to standards
Students learn how behavioral adaptations of zooplankton (migration patterns) increase their chances of survival.