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NATURE Superfish

Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers

Procedures for Teachers is divided into two sections:
  • Prep — Preparing for the lesson
  • Steps — Conducting the lesson
Prep

Media Components

  • Video:

    • NATURE Superfish

      The following three video clips come from the NATURE documentary Superfish, which will premiere on PBS on May 4, 2008 (You can also order a DVD of this program from www.questarhomevideo.com/nature.) Each of these clips is about one minute long. In the Procedures for Teachers section there are suggested places for when to show these clips to your students.

      SUPERFISH is a co-production of Wild Logic Film and Thirteen/WNET New York in association with the BBC and NHK.


  • Segments:

    • Meet Rick Rosenthal, marine biologist and cameraman (:35)

    • Sword-wielding billfish are powerful predators (:40)

    • Rays and billfish hunt near converging currents (1:11)


Steps

Classroom Activity 1: The Thrill of the Billfish (Introductory)

  1. Ask students if they have ever heard of a group of fish called "billfish." If not, they probably have heard of some of the specific fish that belong to this group: sailfish, swordfish, and the marlin. Show students photographs of some of these fish — either from library books or printed out from the Internet. Ask students to discuss what features these fish have in common (all have long, sword-like protrusions from their upper jaws). Also, invite students to identify some of the ways in which these billfish are different.

  2. Ask students to use the classroom as a frame of reference to estimate the size of the largest of these billfish: the marlin. "How many marlin might fit in our classroom?" Point out that an adult female marlin can grow to lengths of 13 feet (4 meters). Use a tape measure, yard stick or meter stick to see how many marlin might cover the length or width of the classroom.

  3. Show video clip #1 Meet Rick Rosenthal, marine biologist and cameraman [:35] and video clip #2 Sword-wielding billfish are powerful predators [:40] from Superfish.

  4. Discuss the clip, and explain that the underwater cameraman is a scientist (marine biologist) who travels the world to study various fish. (You will probably need to explain that the word "pelagic" which Rick Rosenthal uses, refers to things that life found in the upper layers of the ocean.

  5. Distribute Student Organizer 1, "The Thrill of the Billfish," and Student Organizer 2, "The Story of Rick Rosenthal." Ask students to complete the chart using Internet resources and/or to read about this scientist's background, and write in an answer for the question at the bottom of the page.

Classroom Activity 2: Make Your Own Nature Video

  1. Ask students to discuss what it would be like to have a job like Rick Rosenthal's. What would be fun about being a nature photographer and scientist? What would be difficult? What would be some of the biggest challenges?

  2. Tell students they will work in pairs or small groups to make their own nature video (assuming you can get access to a video camera ) — either from the school library, or to borrow from a member of your school community. Explain that they will be creating documentaries about animals they can observe in a local park, their backyards, or even a local pet store.

  3. Distribute "Make Your own Nature Video" Planning page (student organizer 3), and have students work in pairs or small groups to complete it.

  4. After their planning page is approved by the teacher, students can begin creating their nature documentary. Inform students that their video should be about five minutes long. Encourage them to add audio commentary as they observe the animals. (You may wish to provide some examples: "Wow, did you notice the spots on that butterfly's wings!")

  5. Once all the student videos are completed, have organize a special event for other students in the school (and maybe parents, too) to see these short videos.

Classroom Activity 3: Exploring Converging Currents

  1. Show students a globe or world map. Have a discussion about how much of our planet is covered by ocean. Ask students to estimate what percentage of Earth is covered by ocean. (Scientists estimate about 70%).

  2. Explain that most of the ocean is lifeless. Sometimes large predators like billfish have to swim many miles until they can find fish to eat. Many fish have learned over the years that there are certain places in the ocean where they are more likely to find a meal. One likely place to find fish is there seaweed gathers. Point out that the smaller fish eat the seaweed; so larger fish that come there can dine on these smaller fish.

  3. Show video clip #3 from Superfish - Rays and billfish hunt near converging currents [1:11]

  4. After viewing the clip, explain that the currents that make the ocean move in a particular direction are caused by the powerful winds above the ocean. Ocean currents are also caused by the large landmasses (continents) that interrupt the flow of water. Other things that affect ocean currents are the density and temperature of the water.

  5. Explain that, in this activity, they will get a chance to create a model of ocean currents.

  6. Fill a tin pie plate up to the rim with cold tap water. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of some herb or spice (oregano or cinnamon, for example) over the surface. Watch it float.

  7. Have students use a straw to gently blow across the middle of the water surface from one side of the pan. Have students describe the patterns created by the motion of the herbs/spices. (Students should notice that the water is rippled by the artificial wind they are creating with the straw and air.) You may wish to explain that the wind they are creating is a model for the currents that flow west at the Earth's equator. The currents flow in a clockwise motion in the Northern Hemisphere, and counter clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. These different water flows are due to both the Earth's rotation and the way that the continents obstruct the water's flow.

  8. If warm/hot tap water is available, add about a tablespoon of salt to the water and several drops of blue food coloring. Stir the mixture. Use heat resistant gloves to carefully pour a small amount of the colored, salted water into the same water-filled pie pan used in the first demonstration.

  9. Ask students to make observations about how the denser (salt makes water denser) mixture behaves when it is poured into cool water.


Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers

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