WebQuest Direct

How long will we continue to disregard the oceans?

A WebQuest to integrate Earth & Life Science

Designed by Kathy Snyder



Introduction | Task/Objective | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Credits | Teacher Page


Does your behavior have an impact on marine plants & animals?

We hear a lot of discussion about pollution, landfills, waste, and the harm these cause to our environment.  What are we DOING about it?  Knowledge is the key that will unlock new behaviors to effect change.  Once we know what needs to be done, then we have a choice.  Will YOU act to make a difference?


Students, read on!  After completing the tasks described below, you WILL know what is happening to the oceans and what you can do to help. Specific national and New Jersey Standards met by this WebQuest can be found here.

  1. Students will generate a list of things that go down the drain, in the garbage, out the car, into the air, on the street, or on the lawn.
  2. Students will postulate ideas on the final "resting place" of the items on their lists and categorize them by the sphere they reside in (hydrosphere, geosphere, atmosphere, or biosphere).
  3. Students will conduct an experiment to discover the relationship between surface current and dispersion of solids and liquids.
  4. Students will conduct an experiment to discover the impact of temperature on plant growth and transpiration.
  5. Students will view a power point describing marine organisms and select the ones they are most interested in (by submitting a prioritized list).
  6. Students will discover the food webs of their chosen marine organism: phytoplankton, mangroves, red tipped tube worms, salmon, blue whales, manatees, sea stars, and deep ocean corals. Complete annotated  bibliographies will be generated by each student.
  7. Students will conduct research on the status of assigned organisms (threatened, endangered, economic extinction, or extinct).
  8. Students will discuss and evaluate the role humans play in the predicament faced by their chosen organism and develop a list of possible solutions or actions that they would like to implement.
  9. Students will create an action statement, develop a product advertising this, and develop a plan to put their solutions into action.


  1. Students will use the worksheet found here to evaluate things that go down the drain, in the garbage, out the car, into the air, on the street, or on the lawn.
  2. Students will establish brainstorming rules for the class.  Following this, they will brainstorm the final resting place of items that leave their homes, schools, and town. 
  3. Students will work in groups of two to conduct an experiment on dispersion.
  4. Students will work in small groups to conduct an experiment relating temperature to plant growth.
    • An optional extension activity is found here.
  5. Students will work with their cooperative group; groups will study one of the following key organisms: phytoplankton, mangroves, red tipped tube worms, salmon, blue whales, manatees, sea stars, or deep ocean corals.
    • Students may play the game located at this web site to reinforce the way food chains operate.
  6. Following an introductory power point, students will conduct research to determine the niche and status of their organism and identify its marine food web. Student Worksheet #1
  7. Cooperative groups will use reflective listening techniques to share their findings and prepare an oral presentation to the class.
  8. Groups will discover the impact made by people upon their assigned marine ecosystem.
  9. Students will work cooperatively; share ideas and listen to his or her peers' ideas.
    • Possible topics include over fishing, pollution, bycatch, & aquaculture.
    • Students will create a large food web to determine how their chosen organisms webs overlap
  10. Students will present a list of possible actions they can take to change the situation.
  11. Students will work with their cooperative group to create five action statements.
    • They will develop a T-shirt design to advertise their chosen course of action.
    • Here are some examples of other students' designs.  #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
#6 #7
  1. They will develop a plan that their class, school, family, and community can become involved with.
  2. Implementation of the plan will be dependent upon the passion generated within each group for the organism they studied; though it will be strongly encouraged.

Evaluation and Assessment

The grade for the activities in this unit is based primarily on the individual effort students demonstrate in completion of the objectives.  Cooperative work is key to the process of developing the finished product..  Total score is 200 points.










Task 1
Generate a categorized list of "castaways"

Student shows effort in fewer than 4 areas
Student shows reflection in all six areas
Student shows analytical thinking in all six areas
Student shows insight, and creates an extensive, list in all areas
Task 2
Generate categorized final resting place for items listed in Task 1

Student capably lists final resting place for some items
Student categorizes correctly, but list of final location is incomplete or incorrect
Student capably identifies final resting place and partially correct categorization
Thorough and complete final resting place and categorization
Task 3
Students will complete the experiment on dispersion of materials

Student was present in class and participated with his or her group to complete the experiment
Student conducted the experiment and completed required drawings
Student conducted the experiment, completed drawings, and submitted the laboratory report; it was late or contained errors
Student conducted the experiment, completed drawings, and submitted a punctual, error free laboratory report 20

Quiz on tasks

Student's grade was < 11.
Student's grade was between 11 & 13
Student's grade was between 14 & 16
Student's grade was >17

Task 4
Student will complete the experiment relating temperature and plant growth

Student was present in class and participated with his or her group to complete the experiment Student conducted the experiment and completed required drawings Student conducted the experiment, completed drawings, and submitted the laboratory report; it was late or contained errors Student conducted the experiment, completed drawings, and submitted a punctual, error free laboratory report 20
Task 5
Student will submit a prioritized list of organisms to study (following power point presentation)

Student list was submitted.  It was missing a name, late, not prioritized.
Student list was prioritized, but incomplete or late.
Student list was prioritized; it contained  errors or was late.
Student submitted a punctual,  error free, prioritized list

Task 6A
Student worksheet 1 completed; characteristics, food web & challenges - oral presentation

Student was not prepared on time, showed little enthusiasm or preparation.
Student was prepared on time; presentation was not rehearsed or in sufficient detail.
Clear and logical rationale presented; student read and did not present.
Excellent presentation, from memory, with passionate reasons for selection.
Task 6B
Brainstorm importance of assigned organism upon  the health of the ocean

Few contributions were made, little effort shown; or student monopolized conversation without listening. Student shared ideas and showed ability to "piggyback" on the ideas of others. Reflective listening and incorporation of ideas evident, little leadership shown. Leadership demonstrated in listening, guiding discussion and enabling others to develop impact statement. 10
Task 7
Documented research of the current status of marine organism

Student opinion submitted; no research or documentation evident.
Correct status; no documentation, or was late.
Research and documentation are correct; work contains errors or was not submitted on time.
Research and documentation are correct, error free and on time.

Task 8
Investigation of human factors impacting marine ecosystems

Brief report; lack of thorough research and reflection.
Thorough report reflects existing knowledge.
Thorough report of research, some reflection and analysis.
Thorough, reflective, analytical assessment of high quality.

Task 9A
The individual works well within his or her group - listening and giving input to group discussions

Student does not listen to his or her peers, or is detached from group actives
Student is engaged, but expresses no qualitative input to assist the group effort
Student is passionate about the cause and  creates a vision and mission statement that are effective and realistic
Student exceeds level 3 objectives by adding research completed on other work already completed

Task 9B
Student research on creating an action statement and logo for their T-shirt

Student makes vague guesses as to the content and nature of a logo and action statement.
Research is conducted; no other substantive creative thought is generated.
Input is based upon research and reflective thinking.
Preliminary designs (mechanicals) are submitted to the group; discussion is lively and substantive.


Task 9C Group vision and action statement and T-shirt


Students ideas are not developed into a rough draft stage.  Student did not create a T-shirt.
Rough draft of one or two ideas is brought to the meeting, but quality is poor; product contains errors. T-shirt is poorly executed.
High quality, thoughtful work is done, only one or two ideas are prepared.  T-shirt shows care in preparation.
Preliminary ideas for brochure design and content are well prepared ; quality and color are evident. T-shirt is  masterfully done.
Tasks 9D
Leadership into action - do what you proposed; advertise your success!

No assistance given to the group in preparing advertisement or conducting the work proposed in the plan.
Minimal assistance, student attends few work sessions and is not helpful in advertising the plan.

Student is actively engaged in the work of the plan and writes advertising for local papers.
Active leadership role in guiding peers, company members and others to accomplish and advertise the outcome



Can students do something to make a positive change to the condition of the world's oceans? If they became informed and active in their quest to change the status quo would the ripple effect from that impact their town, their state and beyond?  Our quest to care for our planet beginning with our most unknown and valuable resource - the world's oceans - must begin.  There is much talk; but a great need for more action and soon.  Many of the organisms of critical value to the marine ecosystems are becoming threatened; some are already extinct.  It is within our power to do something. We must do so.

Credits & References

These references will assist students in their inquiry process; they will find helpful suggestions to use as they implement their plans to save marine ecosystems and organisms.  Most of these were provided by the American Museum of Natural History Seminars in Science Course entitled The Ocean System.

This unit was the culminating project developed for a course sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History.  The course, entitled The Ocean System, was taught by Jake Gebbie and Gerald Gontarz.  This online course presented excellent resources, challenging and thought provoking assignments, readings, and discussions.  Seminars in Science offers online professional development for educators.


Web references for students (please report broken links)

Black Smoker Animation
Living Ocean Gallery
The Micropolitan Museum
AMNH ology - climate change
Pelagic Shark Research Foundation
Hydrothermal Vent Animals
Center for Biodiversity and Conservation
Scrapbook on Black Smokers
Why Care about the Reefs?
Earth Pulse - National Geographic
Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trust Council
World Wildlife Federation
Mangroves and shrimp - balancing act
National Marine Sanctuaries
See the Sea
Sharkrunners Game
How Healthy are Our

Using the Carbon Cycle Game in the Classroom
How do we study the ocean?
The Ocean Biome
Earth Observatory - The Water Cycle
Atlantic Salmon - National Geographic
Deep Sea Ecosystems
AMNH - Ocean Life Web List
Reviving our Oceans
Print References used

Garrison, Tom. Oceanography, Thomson, Brooks/Cole: Australia, 2004.
Halversen, Catherine, Beals, Kevin, Strang, Craig. Ocean Currents - Marine Science Activities for Grades 5-8. LHS: Berkeley, CA. 2001.

A final note
Here a link to The WebQuest Page and the Design Patterns page.  These sites will enable others to acquire the latest version of this template and training materials.

We all benefit by being generous with our work. Permission is hereby granted for other educators to copy this WebQuest, update or otherwise modify it, and post it elsewhere provided that the original author's name is retained along with a link back to the original URL of this WebQuest. On the line after the original author's name, you may add Modified by (your name) on (date). If you do modify it, please let me know and provide the new URL.

Last updated Sat, 14 February, 2015. Based on a template from The WebQuest Page

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