Unit

Oyster Tank Investigation

Grade

6-8th

Class Periods

1

Setting

Classroom

Subject Areas

Science


Summary

Students add new questions about oyster reef associate species to the class’ list, Student Questions as of (today’s date).  Students then sort this list of Student Questions as of (today’s date) of questions in a two ways.  The first sort is completely open-ended.  The second sort asks students to consider different ways of looking for answers to each question.  

Objectives

  • Manipulate and evaluate students’ questions without needing to answer them right away.

  • Evaluate different approaches to finding answers to different kinds of questions.

Before you get started

Tips for Teachers

  • This lesson use Student Questions as of (today’s date). This is a list of questions generated by your students during the prior two lessons in this series: “Part 2 - What Do Oysters Need in our Classroom Tank?” and “Part 3 - Will Our Oysters Do Better in the ORS or in the Classroom Tank?”  This list must be typed-up and numbered in advance of this lesson!

  • We encourage you to keep the activity open to lots of different kinds of questions, especially questions about other ORS organisms.  In our experience, those are interesting, exciting critters that generate a lot of great student curiosity and questioning!

Preparation

  • Type up the list of Student Questions as of (today’s date) using questions that you posted above the classroom tank (and created in the lesson “Part 2 - What Do Oysters Need in Our Classroom Tank?”).  It’s important to number the questions, so students can refer to them easily during class.

  • Add to the the list of Student Questions as of (today’s date) any other interesting questions you’ve overheard, or that students have written down, which did not make it to the list above.

  • Consider re-typing the students’ predictions in the form of questions from the Lesson “Part 3 - Will Our Oysters Do Better in the ORS or in the Classroom Tank?”

Instruction Plan

Engage

  1. Each student gets the Student Questions as of (today’s date) and the Species ID pages out of the BOP ORS Field Manual.

  2. Ask your students:

    • Look at this giant list of questions you all have articulated in the past few lessons!  Are you surprised by anything about the list?

    • Think about some of the other organisms you saw at the Oyster Restoration Station.  Let’s add some questions about those to our list.

  3. Track questions about other ORS organisms on a board, so students can include them at the end of the list of Student Questions as of (today’s date).

  4. If you brought any ORS organisms back to your classroom tank, this would be a good moment to remind students of that, and perhaps invite a few students to observe the tank and add questions to the list while others continue with the main activity.  

Explore

  1. Ask your students to categorize the questions, using any categories they like.  

  2. Rules:

    • Every question needs a category.

    • Don’t make a “miscellaneous” category.  Instead, come up with a substantive way to categorize each and every question.

    • If it helps, you can slightly change some of the questions, or turn one question into two related questions.

  3. Note: This sort is meant to help the students read all the questions and to help them recognize that there are different ways of thinking about questions.  It can also give you an idea of how the students are understanding the questions.

Elaborate

Lead a discussion about the first sort.  Possible discussion prompts:

  • Let’s hear the categories that some students came up with.

  • Do some of you have other systems of categories?

  • What was the trickiest question to categorize?  How did you deal with it?

  • What types of things does it look like our class is particularly interested in?

  • Are there questions you found difficult to understand?  Are there ways to clarify those?

  • Do you have additional questions for the list at this time?

  • After sorting the questions, what did you notice about a question that you hadn’t noticed before?

Evaluate

  1. Distribute Sort #2.  It asks students -- first individually, and then in small groups -- to sort the same list of Student Questions as of (today’s date) of their questions using these three categories:

    • Questions we can best answer by consulting experts -- either by talking to people, or by reading things that people have written.   

    • Questions we can best answer by setting up an experiment and collecting our own data.

    • Questions we can best answer by looking at someone else’s data.

  2. Lead a discussion about the second sort.  Possible discussion prompts:

    • What were the tricky questions to sort?

  • What were the most persuasive arguments that your classmates made, to convince you to switch a question from one category into another?

  • What makes a great experimental question?  

  • Of your experimental questions, which would you most like to experiment on this year?

  1. If no students mentioned the ORS or the field, follow up with the following questions:

  • Could any of these questions be answered by collecting data in the field?  

  • Could you rewrite any of the questions to make them answerable with field data?

  • Could any of these questions be answered if you had access to many people’s ORS data over time?

  • Of your field data questions, which would you most like to answer by collecting field data this year?


    Extend

    To begin to tease out the distinctions between observational and experimental studies:

    1. Add a fourth category to Sort #2:  Questions we can best answer by making our own observations (without setting up an experiment).

    2. Discuss the process of sorting experimental from observational questions.  Possible discussion prompts:

      • When we go to the field to monitor our ORS, are we doing an experiment?  Always, sometimes, or never?  Depending on what?  Why?

      • What makes a great observational question?

      • Of your observational questions, which would you most like to pursue this year?