Billion Oyster Project

Dissolved Oxygen and Oysters - Part 1


Water Quality Lessons



Class Periods




Subject Areas


This pair of lessons can help you integrate reading into the process of inquiry. Students use concept maps to organize their ideas and questions about the complex relationships involving oysters and dissolved oxygen. Students then use a library of texts both to find information and to develop informed, follow-up questions that can be the basis for future investigations.



Materials and Resources

Student Handouts


Ideally, each student can access the internet so as to read texts, closely examine diagrams, and watch videos as part of their research. If this is the case, provide digital access to the Resource: Oysters and Dissolved Oxygen Library. It’s great to print it out as well, so students have the option to underline, annotate, etc. by hand. If you wish, provide very large sheets of paper for complex concept maps!

Before you get started

Tips for Teachers

You’ll need to read the library in advance, or as much of it as you want to use, and make the best judgment about which texts/images/video are the best fit for your students. Ideally they will get a range of materials, including some that are fairly straightforward for them, as well as some that are a definite challenge. Before you start Day 2, you’ll need to gather a list of statements from students’ concept maps from Day 1. This process is described more fully in the Handouts section of Day 2’s lesson. This pair of lessons will make more sense for students after introducing students to the general concept of dissolved oxygen, for example in the BOP lesson “Saturation and Dissolved Oxygen”





Instruction Plan


  1. Hand out a Concept Map to each student

2. Ask your students to make a concept map starting with the categories:

  • You

  • Your friends

  • Your phone

3. How many different true statements can you make that relate you, your friends, and your phone?  (Here is an example of a concept map, to give an idea of true statements and links. )

4. What if you introduce a fourth thing into its own box, something that comes up a lot when you think about you, your friends, and your phone -- what might that be?  Snapchat?  School? Selfies? -- how does that figure into the concept map?  What does that new thing lead to?  What leads to it?


Tell your students:

Now we’ll make a concept map relating

  1. Oysters

  2. Dissolved Oxygen

Put a few links on your concept map.  They can be questions or statements.


Now you can give out Library on Dissolved Oxygen and Oysters -- Part I.  

This will be a good time to give your students a pep-talk!  Tell them they’ve “got this,” and then tell them again with different words.  Tell them twice more, just for good measure.  This can help them move beyond fears about reading and about sifting through large amounts of information.

You might also scaffold this process by reading over one short piece of text with them before they start on their own

Advise your students first to read only the heading of each text.  Based on that, they can choose one to read first.  Then they can take whatever time they need to start making sense of that reading.  For starters, 5-10 minutes for figuring out:

What do you understand so far?

What are your questions so far?

What can you add to your concept map at this point?

  • True statements that link oysters and dissolved oxygen, plus the name of the source of your information

  • New questions about oysters, dissolved oxygen, or both

  • New boxes that you think belong on the concept map -- things that come up repeatedly and are a significant part of the story about oysters and dissolved oxygen (such as filter feeders, gills, plankton, light, eelgrass, diseases)

(Some students may need these prompts written on a handout or posted in the room where they can see and refer to them.)

At some point, they can decide to try a different reading.  This flexibility allows for differentiation.  You can decide to push your most capable readers, individually, to take on more.


Students use the library to add connections to their concept maps.  

At some point, the map structure may become too crowded to read effectively.  At that point, offer your students to option to just write a list of statements involving oysters and/or dissolved oxygen -- statements they would write on a very large concept map if they had one.  Alternatively, you can offer students very large paper to create very large concept maps.

Meanwhile, you can take this time to help students navigate the library.  Meanwhile you can walk around the room, eavesdropping and trouble-shooting, and noting information such as:

  1. What kinds of things are most interesting for your students in this library?

  2. What misconceptions do they have, and can you figure out where those misconceptions originate?

  3. Which readings are trickiest for them, and can you figure out what it is about the reading that presents obstacles?

  4. Which readings seem to work best for them, and can you figure out why?

  5. What are some of the specific reading challenges that individual students exhibit?


Ask your students:

Which text did you find the most useful today?  What was particularly useful about it?

Which text did you find the least useful today?  Did anyone find a good way to make use of that text?  If so, what were your strategies for making sense of that text?


CCLS - ELA Science & Technical Subjects

    • Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
    • Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.
    • Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
    • Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.

CCLS - Mathematics

    • Describing the nature of the attribute under investigation, including how it was measured and its units of measurement.

NGSS - Cross-Cutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect

    • Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural systems.
  • Energy and Matter

    • The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a natural system.
  • Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World

    • Technologies extend the measurement, exploration, modeling, and computational capacity of scientific investigations
  • Scientific Knowledge Assumes an Order and Consistency in Natural Systems

    • Science assumes that objects and events in natural systems occur in consistent patterns that are understandable through measurement and observation.

NGSS - Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms

    • Plants, algae (including phytoplankton), and many microorganisms use the energy from light to make sugars (food) from carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water through the process of photosynthesis, which also releases oxygen. These sugars can be used immediately or stored for growth or later use.
  • LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

    • In any ecosystem, organisms and populations with similar requirements for food, water, oxygen, or other resources may compete with each other for limited resources, access to which consequently constrains their growth and reproduction.
  • LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience

    • Ecosystems are dynamic in nature; their characteristics can vary over time. Disruptions to any physical or biological component of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in all its populations.
  • PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life

    • Cellular respiration in plants and animals involve chemical reactions with oxygen that release stored energy. In these processes, complex molecules containing carbon react with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and other materials. (secondary)
    • The chemical reaction by which plants produce complex food molecules (sugars) requires an energy input (i.e., from sunlight) to occur. In this reaction, carbon dioxide and water combine to form carbon-based organic molecules and release oxygen. (secondary)

NGSS - Science and Engineering Practices

  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data

    • Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena.
  • Asking Questions and Defining Problems

    • Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the classroom, outdoor environment, and museums and other public facilities with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on observations and scientific principles.
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

    • Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for real-world phenomena, examples, or events.
  • Engaging in Argument from Evidence

    • Construct an oral and written argument supported by empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon or a solution to a problem.

NYC Science Scope & Sequence - Units

  • Grade 6, Unit 4

    • Interdependence
  • Grade 7, Unit 2

    • Energy and Matter
  • Grade 7, Unit 4

    • Dynamic Equilibrium: Other Organisms
  • Grade 8, Unit 4

    • Humans and the Environment: Needs and Tradeoffs

NYS Science Standards - Key Ideas

  • LE Key Idea 1

    • Living things are both similar to and different from each other and from nonliving things.
  • LE Key Idea 3

    • Individual organisms and species change over time.
  • LE Key Idea 6

    • Plants and animals depend on each other and their physical environment.
  • LE Key Idea 7

    • Human decisions and activities have had a profound impact on the physical and living environment
  • PS Key Idea 3

    • Matter is made up of particles whose properties determine the observable characteristics of matter and its reactivity
  • PS Key Idea 4

    • Energy exists in many forms, and when these forms change energy is conserved.

NYS Science Standards - Major Understandings

    • Multicellular animals often have similar organs and specialized systems for carrying out major life activities.
    • Tissues, organs, and organ systems help to provide all cells with nutrients, oxygen, and waste removal.
    • In all environments, organisms with similar needs may compete with one another for resources.
    • Changes in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms with a particular trait. Small differences between parents and offspring can accumulate in successive generations so that descendants are very different from their ances- tors. Individual organisms with certain traits are more likely to survive and have offspring than individuals without those traits.
    • Matter is transferred from one organism to another and between organisms and their physical environment. Water, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen are examples of substances cycled between the living and nonliving environment.
    • The major source of atmospheric oxygen is photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and oxygen is released during photosynthesis.
    • A population consists of all individuals of a species that are found together at a given place and time. Populations living in one place form a community. The community and the physical factors with which it interacts compose an ecosystem.
    • Since the Industrial Revolution, human activities have resulted in major pollution of air, water, and soil. Pollution has cumulative ecological effects such as acid rain, global warming, or ozone depletion. The survival of living things on our planet depends on the conservation and protection of Earth’s resources.
    • Solubility can be affected by the nature of the solute and solvent, temperature, and pressure. The rate of solution can be affected by the size of the particles, stirring, temperature, and the amount of solute already dissolved.
    • Temperature affects the solubility of some substances in water.

NYS Science Standards - MST

    • Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.
    • Students will apply the knowledge and thinking skills of mathematics, science, and technology to address real-life problems and make informed decisions.