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Lesson Plans
Oceans in Glass: The Great White Shark Experiment

Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for teachers is divided into five sections:

Media Components

  • Computer Resources:

    • Modem: 56.6 Kbps or faster.
    • Browser: Netscape Navigator 4.0 or above or Internet Explorer 4.0 or above. Macintosh computer: System 8.1 or above and at least 32 MB of RAM.
    • Personal computer (Pentium II 350 MHz or Celeron 600 MHz) running Windows® 95 or higher and at least 32 MB of RAM
    • Software: Any presentation software such as Power Point or Hyperstudio (optional), and word processing programs like Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, ClarisWorks, AppleWorks, etc.
    • RealPlayer
    • Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 or higher. Download the free Adobe Acrobat reader here:

  • Materials:

    Teachers will need the following supplies:

    • Copies of the STUDENT ORGANIZER
    • Board and/or chart paper
    • Ideally a screen on which to project the Web-based video clips
    • Handouts of Web resources if computers are not available in the classroom
    • Video of NATURE, Oceans in Glass: Behind the Scenes of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Episodes #2302

    Students will need the following supplies:

    • computers with the capacities indicated above
    • notebook or journal
    • pens/pencils

  • Bookmarked sites and video resources:

    Tip: Before teaching this lesson, bookmark all of the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom, create a word-processing document with all of the Web sites listed as hyperlinks, upload all links to an online bookmarking utility such as, or make paper handouts of necessary Web pages so that students can access the information on these sites. Make sure that your computer has necessary media players, like RealPlayer, to show streaming clips (if applicable).

    Please preview all of the sites and videos before presenting them to your class.


    • NATURE:
      Oceans in Glass: Behind the Scenes of the Monterey Bay Aquarium

    Web Resources for Students

    • Monterey Bay Aquarium: The White Shark Research Project
      The aquarium's multi-year study includes, in addition to the young white shark exhibition detailed in the NATURE video, efforts to tag juvenile and adult white sharks to learn more about the movement and the population of white sharks in California waters.

    • Monterey Bay Aquarium: Saving Sharks
      Part of the Sharks: Myth and Mystery Web site, this resource page details the threats to the survival of sharks and what can be done to help. Student-appropriate text.

    • NPR: Great White Shark Added to Endangered List
      The NPR radio report of the 2004 CITE designation of the great white's endangered status. Includes streaming audio in either Real Player or Windows Media Player format.

    • The Shark Trust: Shark Information, Great White Sharks, Shark Pictures
      The trust is a marine conservation charity dedicated to promoting the study, management, and conservation of sharks, skates and rays (elasmobranchs) in the UK and internationally.

    • WWF: Great White Shark
      A concise, student friendly summary of descriptive information about the great white shark. Based on information from the Shark Trust.

    • Marine
      Marine is a volunteer organization of marine biologists dedicated to inspiring research and education about marine biology. They provide a student friendly description and fascinating facts about the great white shark.

    • The Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
      This site provides information about the sharks of Monterey Bay. Higher reading level text.

    • Great White Sharks, Others Win Global Protection
      National Geographic News reports on the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) decision to protect great white sharks.

    • NPR: Released Great White Shark Located
      This NPR radio report describes what happened after the Monterey Bay Aquarium shark was released. Includes streaming audio in either Real Player or Windows Media Player format.

    Web Resources for Teachers


    Introductory Activity

    Prior to teaching the lesson, bookmark all of the Web Resources for Students used in the lesson on each computer to be used during the lesson. You may also create a Web site with links to each Web resource, or use an online bookmarking utility like Portaportal ( or Backflip ( to increase time on task at the computers.

    If using embedded video clips be sure all computers have the Real Player plugin, available at

    If using a VCR and videotape of the program, cue the videotape to the appropriate starting point. Prepare copies of the student organizers. View the video clips in their entirety to become familiar with all starts and stops. Practice the pauses and fast forwards to insure smooth transitions during viewing.

    Prepare the student organizers and handouts for each part of the lesson by copying them for each student. Make sure students also have generic notetaking materials as needed.

    When using media, provide students with a Focus for Media Interaction, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites, or other multimedia elements.

    • In preparation for viewing the first video clip, ask students what they know about aquariums. Their answers may include, "a place where you can see different species of fish and other sea animals." Tell students that aquariums are also places where scientists study aquatic habitats and species, including plants and animals, many of which are either threatened or endangered.

    • Aquarium Scenes of the Monterey Bay Aquarium
      Clip #1

      Provide a focus for media interaction by asking students to take notes on the unique aspects of the Monterey Bay Aquarium as they watch the first clip. If using a videotape, cue the video to the very beginning. Play the video until the title appears. The segment will allow them to briefly see some of the unique aspects of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, including the massive glass walls, walk-through exhibits, and habitats with many different species rather than small tanks with specific collections of individual species. Check for student understanding. (CLIP #1)

      If viewing a videotape, fast forward the video to just after the narrator says, "Of all the animals to be seen here - of all the stories to be told - there is one animal in particular that is attracting the attention of the world."
    • Before playing the next clip, provide a focus for media interaction by asking students to think about why the aquarium wanted to experiment with a great white shark. Play the second clip. If using a videotape, pause the tape when the narrator says, "How long will she be content to swim this little patch of ocean?" (CLIP #2)

      Shark Swimming Spotlighting the Plight of Sharks
      Clip #2

      Check for understanding. (The aquarium hoped to put a spotlight on the plight of sharks worldwide that are being killed in dramatic numbers.)

      If using a videotape, fast forward through the segments about the living kelp forest and the "jelly farm." These segments can be used in other lessons about the ocean biome. Continue past the the scenes of feeding a shark in an open ocean pen and initial scenes showing how the aquarium sets up to feed the great white in captivity. Cue the video to just after the narrator says, "Nearby Freya Smith attempts to divert the attention of the other animals."

    • Shark Feeding Shark Feeding & Concerns
      Clip #3

      Talk with students about the concerns the aquarium staff have for the great white they now have in captivity; will she acclimate? Discuss what that means. The best indicator will be if she eats. Although great white sharks have been known to eat almost anything, their main diet in the wild includes seals, sea lions and whales. Provide a focus for media interaction by asking, "Why is the staff concerned if the shark appears to be coming to dinner when called? Play the third clip or, if viewing a videotape, play until the narrator says, "Will she begin hunting and stalking her prey?" (CLIP #3)

    Learning Activity:

    • Students will use Internet resources to learn more about the great white shark and answer some important questions.

    • Provide a focus for media interaction by putting the following question on the board:

      "What do you know about the great white shark and its natural habitat that would help the aquarium keep the shark in captivity? Is it possible? Why or Why not?"

      Distribute the Great White Research handout and provide students with guidance as they navigate the Internet to gather specific information about the great white shark. Encourage students to supplement with print and other media resources available from your school or community library. Be sure to have students note bibliographic information in order to provide citations all resources.

    Culminating Activity/Assessment:

    • Students will produce a Web site summarizing the information gathered during their research.

    • Upon completion of student Web sites, have students watch the last video segment describing what happened to the great white shark at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. In addition, students may explore the final two Internet sources which describe what happened subsequently.

      Guide students through the Web site planning process. Information should be grouped into logical "chunks" to make it easier to navigate from page to page in their Web site. Use Composer, the free "wysiwyg" component of the Mozilla browser, a free, open source Internet application suite available at: ( Or you may use licensed software appropriate for your computer platform such as Dreamweaver or Front Page.

      You may want to consult a commercial Web planning site, for example, Altered Impressions, _Services/
      , or one of many books on Web design for guidance in the planning process. Use the sample Web Design Rubric found in the handouts to guide the planning process as well.

      Discuss with your school or district technology coordinator or Web master the technical details of making student Web sites available for viewing. Be mindful of your district's Acceptable Use Policy and privacy issues surrounding the publication of student names on the Internet.

      The following steps provide a framework for the Web design process.

      1. Group students into teams of four and assign each student a portion of the Web site to create based on the learning activity research. Working together, students will share and review their research findings, identifying essential facts to include in their Web site.

      2. Distribute copies of the Web Planning Storyboard and choose a Web Design Rubric from the samples provided or create one of your own using the links listed in the Student Resources and Materials. Each member will be responsible for one or more pages as depicted in their storyboard. At a minimum there should be one page for each of the question categories, description, needs, history, plans. Students may choose to create additional pages to include a picture gallery, other interesting facts, or a quiz or survey for their audience to complete.

      3. Provide students with time at the computer and instruction using either the free Mozilla Composer or Web site creation software. The Mozilla browser Help is an excellent source for step-by-step directions.

      4. Provide time for students to explore and peer review the Web sites created by their classmates.

      Use the following steps to conclude the lesson:

      1. In preparation for viewing the last clip, ask students what they think happened to the shark. Let them know that the shark, although thriving, began to attack other sharks, killing one. After observing the shark closely for a month, members of the husbandry team met to discuss its fate. The shark was clearly showing signs that she was actively hunting and stalking other animals. Concerned for the health and well being of the other animals, the team members decided it was time to return the great white to the wild, but that was easier said than done.

      2. If using a videotape, fast forward through the sea otter segment and segments of the video showing divers cleaning the glass walls and the initial effort to remove the shark from the tank. Cue the video just after the narrator says, Injuring this animal - or losing her - would be a dark end to an otherwise triumphant effort."

      3. Provide a focus for media interaction; ask students to what steps were taken to insure the shark's safe transfer back into the ocean and to monitor the shark after her release. (Since the shark needs to swim to breathe, the capture team inserts a pump into her mouth that will force water over her gills. They also fit her with a satellite tag, which will track her for 30 days.)

      4. Play the third video clip that ends after the announcer says, "In the offshore water south of Monterey Bay, the staff take a final check of their charge. Then there's only one thing left to do."

      5. Provide students with individual computer Internet access or use a classroom computer making sure to have speakers for sound amplification of the audio clip. Access the NPR audio report, Released Great White Shark Located found at: Provide students with a focus for media interaction by asking them to assess how the shark is doing based on information provided in the audio clip. Was the right decision made by the aquarium researchers? What do they think will happen in the next 30 days?

    Extension Activities

    • The culminating activity may take other forms. This lesson offers the opportunity for differentiated instruction, enabling students with varied levels of understanding to enhance their learning through alternative activities. This will enable students to work in small groups, with a variety of materials and options.

    • Students may design, using drawings and models, their own aquarium habitat to support a great white shark and other species in harmony, do a multimedia presentation of pictures of sharks found in the oceans of the world or a map of the range and the extent of their migration. They may stage a debate about the benefits and risks involved in maintaining endangered species in captivity. By providing other differentiated options you can engage students in the learning process with activities that both motivate and challenge students to remain on task.

    • The program, "Oceans of Glass: Behind the Scenes of the Monterey Bay Aquarium," has several engaging segments, including one about sea otters and the aquarium's research projects. Develop your own lesson including the sea otter clips and relevant Internet resources. You can begin with the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Sea Otter home page at:

    • You may also have students research other endangered species in the ocean biome, or species in all biomes. They can create websites, presentations, etc. to present their plan for saving these species and the habitats they live in. A good introductory website is "What's it Like Where You Live: Biomes of the World," The Research Organizer, found in Student Resources and Materials, is a generic form of the handout used in this lesson that will help focus students' research.

    Community Connections:

    Are there endangered species in your community? Even New York City has endangered peregrine falcons nesting in bridges and skyscrapers. Find out more about about the endangered animals in your community and what students can do to preserve endangered species in their own community.

    Student Resources and Handouts

    Use the Great White Research handout to focus research using Internet and library resources

    Citation Maker
    A website that helps students create the appropriate format MLA or APA citation that can be pasted into a word processing document to create a bibliography.

    Teacher Resources

    The Research handout is a generic organizer that can be used for researching any endangered species.

    Sample website design rubrics

    Create your own rubric
    A free online tool to help make rubrics without having to invent the text for all the criteria on you own. Customizable to your own needs.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students