Billion Oyster Project

Improve Conditions in Your Small Tank


Unit

NY Harbor Populations Investigation

Grade

6-8th

Class Periods

9

Setting

Classroom

Subject Areas

Science


Summary

After collecting, analyzing, and discussing the data from the lesson Small Tanks for Small Arthropods, the class defines a consensus desired outcome (their definition of “best for the animals”).  The class then develops a consensus set of conditions for what will become the class control tank.  Finally, each group varies one parameter from the control tank, trying to do even better for the animals than the control tank, according to the consensus outcome.

Objectives

  • Analyze their own group’s and class-wide data from small arthropod tanks.

  • Form persuasive arguments about the desired outcome for the class’ small arthropods.

  • Select one parameter to vary from a control condition.

  • Set up a small tank in their chosen experimental condition.

  • Develop a plan for collecting data that will assess their chosen experimental condition according to a consensus definition of the desired outcome.

  • Collect data according to their plan.

  • Analyze and present their data to classmates.

  • Offer and receive questions and suggestions about their experiments.

Materials and Resources

Teacher Resources

Supplies

  • Poster paper for each group to record baseline data

  • 20 (or more) Petri dishes

  • White paper to lay out under the Petri dishes, so it’s easier to observe the animals on a white background

  • Tweezers (one set for each table) -- for transferring animals

  • and/or Wide-tipped disposable pipets (which are quite reusable)-- for transferring animals more gently, along with some water -- one or two per table

  • Sieves, screens, or pieces of loosely-woven fabric that can be used to separate animals from water (one for each table)

  • Hand lenses (two or more for each table)

  • 10 (or more) one-gallon tanks (e.g. Penn-Plax New World Habitat Tank, Small, 1 gal)

  • At least 30 small arthropods collected from ORS mobile trap (the more the better!)


Refer to the BOP Oyster Tank Guide on the BOP Digital Platform for details on where to purchase and how to use the materials for your small tanks.

  • Cold tap water -- enough to fill all the 1-gallon tanks

    • Tap Water Conditioner (de-chlorination of tank water)

    • Instant Ocean Aquarium Salt (15 lbs bag)

  • OR harbor water -- enough to fill all the 1-gallon tanks

  • 10 (or more) aerators with airstones and tubing (alternatively, you can use a manifold with extra tubing to divide the air from one aerator into several tanks)

  • Shellfish Diet 1800 phytoplankton concentrate (1 quart) OR algae discs (optional for occasionally feeding the associated organisms)

  • Optional: frozen brine shrimp for feeding crabs, if students don’t want the crabs eating the harbor organisms

    • Purchase at your local aquarium store or Petco

  • Optional: Stress Zyme (for adding more bacteria to your tank)

  • Optional: Aquarium gravel (for DIY filters)

  • Optional: Plastic bottles with wide mouth (for DIY filters that can fit inside the little 1-gallon tanks)

  • Optional: Recycled oyster shells for substrate

Before you get started

Tips for Teachers

  • Because students often ask fantastic questions without realizing it or writing them down, try to move around the room and write down the wonderings you overhear.  

  • Each time you move or handle your organisms, you stress them.  In general, sieving or screening them is less stressful than using tweezers or pipets.  But some of the amphipods will cling to the screens.

  • You might first ask your students to practice using tweezers gently on other objects, such as soft-cooked rice or cut up cooked noodles.  If they break the rice grains or noodle pieces, they’re squeezing too hard.

  • The hope is to allow students to explore and interact with these animals, and to do so gently, with awareness of how their actions affect the animals.

  • During the data collection period, in the “Evaluate” section, you may want to split class time:  each day students can have a certain amount of time to collect their data.  If you like, you can use the remaining class time from each of those periods for students to present their experiments and data to date.  Groups can present what they have so far, and that way you don’t need to wait for everyone to collect all their data before getting started on presentations.

Preparation

    • You need a fresh supply of amphipods and isopods from your Oyster Restoration Station (ORS).  

    • To give students the best opportunity to do interesting experiments that answer the questions they care about, you might want to visit the ORS on your own several times during this lesson, so you can collect even more animals for them to work with.  You could also reach out to colleagues and BOP citizen scientists in your area to help you with the collection and delivery of small arthropods to your classroom.

    • You need the running list of questions about small arthropods that you started to collect in the previous lesson, Small Tanks for Small Arthropods.  Students will add to the list throughout this lesson.

    • So that your students have some background knowledge about these animals and the local estuarine food web, teach the lessons Food Web and Habitat Web prior to this lesson.

    Instruction Plan

    Engage

    1. Note: the next activity is a rich source of student questions about small arthropods.  Be sure to record your students’ questions and add them to your running list.  You’ll need that list for the students to propose large-scale studies in the upcoming lesson, Propose a NY Harbor population study.

    2. Groups describe to the class, “How are your animals doing?”

    3. Ask the class: “Which group’s animals are doing best?  What’s your evidence?  Can you come up with an argument that a different group’s animals are doing best?”

    4. Ask: “What questions come up as we try to figure out which group’s animals are doing best?”  Add these questions to the running list of questions about small arthropods.

    Explore

    1. Note: the next activity is a rich source of student questions about small arthropods.  Be sure to record your students’ questions and add them to your running list.  You’ll need that list for the students to propose large-scale studies in the upcoming lesson, Propose a NY Harbor population study.

    2. Ask the class:  “What are all the different ways we could define ‘best’?  In other words, what do we really want for our animals, and why?”  

      (One major distinction is: protect prey from predators vs. feed prey to predators.  Many other distinctions are possible!)

    3. Post the answers, and then present the task: “We need a consensus definition of ‘best’ or of our ‘desired outcome’ for our animals.”  

    4. Use polling, forced-choice, or other methods to stimulate discussion and debate.  When you feel the time is right, articulate the consensus position, or articulate the lack of consensus and choose one position for the rest of this activity


    This would be a good time to break until the next class.

    Explain

    1. Note: the next activity is a rich source of student questions about small arthropods.  Be sure to record your students’ questions and add them to your running list.  You’ll need that list for the students to propose large-scale studies in the upcoming lesson, Propose a NY Harbor population study.

    2. Students have the class definition of the desired outcome for the tanks

    3. In groups, students design proposed tank conditions that they think will achieve that desired outcome.

    This would be a good time to break until the next class.


    1. Post those proposed conditions where everyone can see them, and arrive at a ‘class consensus condition’ for a tank that students predict will achieve the consensus desired outcome.

    2. Again, solicit new questions for the running list of questions about small arthropods.


    This would be a good time to break until the next class.  Meanwhile you can get some students to help you set up one tank according to the class consensus conditions.


    Elaborate

    1. Tell students: “I have set up one tank according to our class’ consensus conditions.  This will become the control condition in an experiment that each group will do.  If this is our control condition, you can vary only one parameter to create an experimental condition.  In your group, decide what parameter you want to vary.”

    2. In small groups, students choose one parameter to vary from the class’ control tank, using the handout Which parameter will you vary for your experiment on small arthropods?

      1. Note: the handout asks groups to end up with a list of their top three choices of independent variable, with pros and cons of each.  At that point you might want to elimintate choices that are impractical or too destructive to the animals.

    3. Depending on which parameters your students choose, consider providing groups with 2 or 3 or more small tanks.  That way they can vary their parameters quantitatively.  That said, for more tanks, you need more animals.

      1. For example, suppose a group chooses to vary aeration.  It’s not a great idea for them to get one experimental tank and provide no aeration.  But it could be a great idea for them to get 2 or 3 tanks, and vary the amount of aeration in those tanks.

    This would be a good time to break until the next class.


    Evaluate

    1. In their groups, students set up their experimental tank(s)

    2. Students plan their data collection and predict their results by completing the handout How will you tell how your experimental tank is doing?

    3. Solicit more questions for the running list of questions about small arthropods.  You’ll need that list for the students to propose large-scale studies in the upcoming lesson, Propose a NY Harbor population study.


    This would be a good time to break until the next class.


    1. Students collect data according to their plans.

    2. Students post and discuss their results.

    3. Students present their experimental designs and offer questions and suggestions to other groups.


    Note: it’s often nice to split up the time so that for several class days, students have some time to collect data, and some time for presentations.  That way both activities feel less repetitive.


    Extend

    Each group devises and conducts a follow-up experiment.


    Standards

    NGSS - Cross-Cutting Concepts

    • Cause and Effect

      • Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.
      • Phenomena may have more than one cause, and some cause and effect relationships in systems can only be described using probability.
      • Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural systems.
      • Relationships can be classified as causal or correlational, and correlation does not necessarily imply causation.
    • Energy and Matter

      • The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system
      • 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

      • All human activity draws on natural resources and has both short and long-term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of people and the natural environment.
    • Patterns

      • Graphs and charts can be used to identify patterns in data.
      • Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.
    • Stability and Change

      • Stability might be disturbed either by sudden events or gradual changes that accumulate over time.
    • Systems and System Models

      • Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions.
      • Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes and outputs—and energy and matter flows within systems.

    NGSS - Disciplinary Core Ideas

    • LS1.A: Structure and Function

      • Within cells, special structures are responsible for particular functions, and the cell membrane forms the boundary that controls what enters and leaves the cell.
    • LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

      • Growth of organisms and population increases are limited by access to resources.
      • Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors.
    • LS2.B: Cycle of Matter and Energy Transfer in Ecosystems

      • Food webs are models that demonstrate how matter and energy is transferred between producers, consumers, and decomposers as the three groups interact within an ecosystem. Transfers of matter into and out of the physical environment occur at every level. Decomposers recycle nutrients from dead plant or animal matter back to the soil in terrestrial environments or to the water in aquatic environments. The atoms that make up the organisms in an ecosystem are cycled repeatedly between the living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem.
    • 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.

    NGSS - Science and Engineering Practices

    • Analyzing and Interpreting Data

      • Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena.
    • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

      • Construct an explanation that includes qualitative or quantitative relationships between variables that predict phenomena.
    • Engaging in Argument from Evidence

      • Construct and present oral and written arguments 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