wNetSchool HomeThe Practical Web Service for K-12 TeacherswNetStation
WNET Educational Initiatives
Instructional Television
Lesson Plan Database
NTTI    

"The Shark Lady" -- Females and Minorities in Science
Grades 6-8

Overview

Through the use of video and calculation, students will build an awareness about public attitudes toward women in certain careers in the field of mathematics and/or science. Students will experience for themselves the stereotyping that exists in our culture by creating and collecting data through surveys. The models in this Futures video or any other Futures video provide positive examples that erase the typical stereotype images of particular genders for specific careers. Students use their mathematical and scientific skills to collect data, organize data, and create mathematical models illustrating public opinion and gender bias. Presentation of these mathematical models in class followed by class discussions provides many opportunities for paradigm shifts.

This is an especially interesting video for the students because of the discussion of sharks. Students seem to be fascinated by the scary and powerful attributes of sharks. And a lady bordering on the age of seventy swimming alongside whale sharks is a scene that can shift anyone's paradigm about weak females. Dr. Eugenie Clark, the Shark Lady, in this video is a dynamic model who encourages the youth of today to take advantage of the many choices in careers in the sciences which are also supported by mathematical knowledge.
ITV Series
Futures: #24 Ocean Exploration with Jaime Escalante
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
Materials
Per group of 4 students:


Pre-Viewing Activities
The teacher may borrow and wear a scientist's white lab coat to get the students' attention. Use props such as a clipboard, glass beaker, stethoscope, microscope, etc., to solicit a range of guesses, and ask, "What profession do you think I'm in?" (Chemist for beaker, physician for stethoscope and so on.) Introduce the lesson by telling the students that there are many careers for men and women in the sciences or other professions that require knowledge of mathematics. In the past, some careers were limited to either only women or only men. Ask, "Can you give examples of each?" (Nursing was seen as a female career, while being a physician was seen as a male-only profession.) Use a two-circle Venn diagram to record student responses. One circle will be "men's" careers, while the other will be "women's" careers, and the intersection should include careers that the students feel are suited for either men or women.

Explain to the class that when we fix labels to someone by one characteristic alone, such as gender or race, rather than personal qualities or skills, we are stereotyping. Challenge the students to examine their thinking on how we see men's and women's roles in the oceanography video about to be viewed. Keep this diagram posted for reflection after the postviewing activities. Ask them if they want to change any of the documentation on the Venn diagram. Hopefully, the students' awareness will now be such that they will not stereotype as much as before.

The video's topic is oceanography, and this is one area that has numerous opportunities for science and math careers. (To help break the stereotype of males only in technology, assign a female student to be your assistant with the handling of the TV and the VCR. At a later time, ask the students to reflect or comment on the teacher s choice of an assistant. Ask them if their honest reaction reflects stereotyping.)
Focus Viewing
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, give instructions on the process for recording the oceanography careers and the tasks of each job and tallying the gender of each speaker. Students will record observations made while watching the video. Have them record each career depicted in the video and give a short description of that job. Indicate the gender of each speaker. (Optional: It is my suggestion that the students first see the entire video all the way through to get the whole sense of oceanography and its careers.) The simple tallying that they will do at this time is not distracting to the point of losing the whole idea of the video.

The underwater scenes are beautiful, especially the one of Dr. Eugenie Clark swimming alongside the whale shark. The role models in the video sell the idea of both genders being accepted in this area of science. A list of the scientists and technicians in order of appearance is included in the lesson packet. After watching the whole video, check the tallies and the list of speakers in the video on the list provided. Give the students a couple of minutes to comment on the number of male and female professionals in the video. Solicit opinions on their expectations compared to the results.

To give students a specific responsibility for viewing a second time, tell the students that gender bias may show up in the amount of air time given to each gender. Put the students in groups for the second viewing, and assign the tasks of recorder, timer and observer to the team members. If the groups have four members, you assign the tasks of materials person or reporter to the fourth member. Each group needs instructions on how to operate the stopwatch. Practice starting and stopping the timer to check for understanding. Instruct the teams to record the time each scientist or technician is on the video visually or audibly.

The data collected will be interpreted to determine if the amount of air time given to one gender vs. another is significantly different. The student timer is to start and stop the watch for the amount of time each speaker is highlighted on the video. The observer is to make sure the time recorded is credited to the corresponding scientist by calling out his or her name. The recorder documents the time and other data.

Each group organizes and studies the data in order to make conclusions about the significance of the data. The teams also present at least one question to the class about the messages we send to each other about gender in certain careers. The reporter will report the group's finding to the class at the end of the video.
Viewing Activities
PLAY the video again, fast forwarding to the point where Philip Ray first appears. (Pause and replay any speaker segment if the students wish to doublecheck the time recorded. Pauses are left up to the teacher's judgment or the ability of the students to keep up with the data collection.) View the first five scientists, up to the point where Dr. Meyers says, "Everybody has their own angle on what they are most interested in."
PAUSE in the next frame as Escalante appears again. Ask, "What types of careers have appeared up to this point, and what type of tasks does each job seem to have?" (Answers may vary, but the physical oceanographer measures waves, tides; the chemical oceanographer may measure pollution or water temperature; the marine biologist is concerned with fish, plankton or perhaps whales; and the geologist studies rocks, mountains, volcanoes, or even the beaches.) Accept any logical answers.

RESUME the video.
For a segment to reinforce mathematics, PAUSE where Escalante says, "I went too deep." The frame shows Escalante at the chalkboard. Ask the students to comment on why Escalante says, "Mathematics is the language of the sciences." (Scientists use math formulas as a language that can communicate relationships that exist in the real world. Also, it is almost impossible to collect, organize and interpret scientific data without numbers.)

RESUME the video and observe Dr. Clark.
PAUSE the video when she says, "I like to dive with sharks; they don't scare me!" You should see a shark displayed as you pause. Ask the students to guess what career the Shark Lady has. (The video does not provide this information. Any guesses the students make, like a marine biologist or oceanographer, are acceptable.)

RESUME the video.
PAUSE at the Dr. Clark segment when she says, "The deeper you go, the more there is to learn that has never been studied before." Ask, "What does the Shark Lady mean by this statement?" (Answers may range from "there are unexplored areas and new species to be discovered" to "different depths have different ecosystems.")

RESUME the video and play all the way to the James McFarlane segment.
PAUSE as he says, "We have these vehicles that can roam the depths of the ocean." The picture goes from the pilot to an underwater scene. Focus the question back to the speaker's career and the job's tasks. Ask, "Why does James compare his career to that of an explorer?" (McFarlane goes into areas not yet visited by man, and he discovers and collects new species.) To tie in the technology, elaborate on the tools used by the pilot. The pilot mentions the camera, sonar and robot arms.

RESUME the tape. Listen to Matsumoto, Lewis and Light describe their jobs related to oceanography.
PAUSE after Karen Light says, "I really like my job." You may freeze on the next frame showing Dr. Gonzales. Ask, "What is Light's profession and what does she study?" (As a marine biologist, she studies kelp and sea urchins.) Probe the students further by asking, "Why does Light use the phrase 'kelp forest'?" (A connection should be made to the visual picture of large branches of kelp growing in great numbers, as trees do in a forest.) Assist the students in seeing this as an ecosystem like a forest on dry land.

RESUME the video and observe Dr. Gonzales describing his job.
PAUSE after he says, "That's the way you measure the waves as they come by." The last frame should be Dr. Gonzales displaying the gauge for this function. Ask, "What are his profession and job tasks?" (He is an oceanographer who measures earthquakes and tidal waves and charts their occurrence.)

RESUME with Dr. Clark speaking in the video.
PAUSE to make a strong point about gender equity after Dr. Clark says, "Any of you can be a scientist." Ask, "What is the meaning of this statement?" (Hopefully, the students will hear that her message is "Either male or female can do the job, as long as you set your mind to do it.")

RESUME the video and play through the treasure segment.
PAUSE after Dr. Stone shows the probability graph and says, "Early on in the plan they discovered a contact." Again, ask the class to identify his profession and his tasks in the world of oceanography. (This scientist is a mathematician integrated into oceanography because of his graphing skills and ability to plot coordinates and create a probability map.)

RESUME the video to where Dr. Schartz says, "It has become a laboratory for deep sea life.
PAUSE on the next frame showing the control room. As project director, Dr. Schartz has several professions that would apply to the treasure search. Ask, "What is his profession?" (Accept any reasonable responses, such as a manager, oceanographer, banker. His tasks are more of a managerial nature, along with knowledge of underwater exploration.) Ask, "What does Dr. Schartz mean that there were two treasures found?" (The students may judge new discoveries of life under the sea as more valuable than the coins. Research on these new life forms could give us a food source for the future, new medicines or sources of energy.)

RESUME the video up to the end where the credits are displayed. As the credits roll, listen to Dr. Clark continue to inspire and challenge the students.

STOP the video for the last time as she says, "We know more about the surface of the moon than about the bottom of the ocean." Ask the students to think about and comment on this statement. Ask them to think about future careers in oceanography. (Students should see that since the ocean is 70% of the planet, there is a great potential for further study, and there may be jobs in oceanography in the future that have not even been created yet, such as underwater farmer.)

Weave through the classroom as students talk about the ocean as a resource that we need to protect. Convey that we need qualified persons that care about the environment to have the knowledge and skills to find methods of exploring and researching without destroying. It is going to take all of us, both men and women.
Post-Viewing Activities
Ask the students to add up the airtime for each speaker, and make a bar graph or circle graph to illustrate the amount of time given to the males or to the females. (If the time segments are in small fractions, computations may be encouraged with a calculator. Remind the students that seconds are to be converted to minutes.) The students may color-code the graph by gender. An example on a bar graph could be that the women's bars could all be green, and the male bars could all be red. The quantity could be assessed visually with the aid of the colors. The student groups should elaborate on the conclusions and the questions that they may want to raise before the entire class. The teacher may wish to share some of the figures from the statistics available on gender performance in math and science found in other publications.
Action Plan
Each group is to take a survey in the school or neighborhood on gender bias in math and science. The survey may be student-created. This data is to be illustrated with a mathematical model and presented to the class and displayed throughout the school building.

The survey may bring about awareness in order to plan campus activities to affirm both genders in math and the sciences. For example, the school may invite a female astronaut or other minority scientists to speak to the student body or to individual classes. The students and teacher sponsors may organize a math and science careers fair in their school or for a particular grade level.

Students may write to scientists via e-mail, perhaps even to one of the scientists in the video who are located at the Monterey Aquarium.

Invite speakers of both genders from local museums or aquariums to encourage both genders to take more science and math classes in high school.
Extensions
This same lesson focusing on equity for minorities in math and the sciences may be done with any of the Futures videos by FASE.

Math:
Create math problems, using the figures from the video, such as the following:

Speakers in the Ocean Exploration Video Futures by FASE:
(In order of appearance)
  1. Philip Kay: Senior Systems Operator, Monterey Bay Aquarium
  2. Dawn Wright: Marine Geologist, A&M Ocean Drilling Program
  3. Frank Gonzales, Ph.D: Research Oceanographer, NOAA
  4. Audrey Meyer, Ph.D.: Marine Geologist, A&M Ocean Drilling Program
  5. Dr. Eugenie Clark: The Shark Lady
  6. James McFarlane: Chief R.O.V. Pilot, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
  7. George Matsumoto, Ph.D.: Marine Biologist, Monterey Bay Aquarium
  8. Lynn Lewis: Research Technician, Monterey Bay Aquarium
  9. Karen Light: Marine Biologist, Monterey Bay Aquarium
  10. Barry Schartz: Project Director, S.S. South America Project
  11. Larry Stone, Ph.D.: Mathematician, Metron, Ill.
  12. Jim Schumacher, Ph.D.: Oceanographer, NOAA

Master Teachers: Terri Salas and Francisco Morieda

Top of lesson


Lesson Plan Database
NTTI
Thirteen Ed Online
wNetStation