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“Living In Water”  Grades 4-6

Table of Contents

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Process-Orientated Science in the Classroom
The Hands-on Approach: What Research Says
Science process skills used in theis curriculum
Teaching hands-on science

Section I: Substances That Dissolve in Water
Do substances dissolve in water? If so, how do they affect the plants and animals in aquatic habitiats?


Activity 1 – The Disappearing act
What happens when different substances are added to water? Experiments that test the conditions that affect rates at which salts and other substances dissolve.

Activity 2 – Water, water everywhere
Classifying different kinds of aquatic habitats.

Activity 3 – Salty or fresh?
Which is heavier, fresh water or salt water?

Activity 4 – The layered look
A demonstration of the distribution of fresh and salt water in areas where fresh and salt water meet in estuaries.

Activity 5 – Some like it salty-some do not!
A teacher-led demonstration that shows how salinity may affect the distribution of some aquatic animals.

Activity 6 – The great salinity contest!
Or who has the saltiest and the freshiest water?


Activity 7 – Oxygen for life
What is the source of the oxygen that is dissolved in water?


Activity 8 – Soil in water
What happens when soil erodes from the land and enters aquatic habitats? A long-term experiment.


Activity 9 – What’s in the water?
What is water pollution? What are the effects of several kinds of pollution on aquatic habitats? A long-term experiment.

Section II: Temperature Changes in Aquatic Habitats
What are the characteristics of water with regard to temperature changes? What are the consequences of temperature changes for the plants and animals living in aquatic habitats?


Activity 10 – A change in the weather?
Which changes temperature faster: water or air? Does the volume of water make a difference in how fast the temperature changes?


Activity 11 – Plants use oxygen?
Do the plants and animals that live in water use oxygen?

Activity 12 – When the heat’s on
What is the effect of temperature on the rate at which “cold-blooded” organisms that live in water use oxygen?


Activity 13 – When the oxygen goes
What happens to the dissolved oxygen when water temperature increases?

Activity 14 – When the oxygen is gone
How do animals respond to low oxygen environments?


Activity 15 – In hot water?
Which weighs more: hot or cold water?

Activity 16 – The great anadromous fish game
What are some of the factors that determine the reproductive success of fish during the seasonal migrations of river-spawning, ocean-living species? A life cycle game.

Activity 17 – A change in the weather
Predicting on seasonal changes in aquatic habitats.

Section III: Moving or Staying Put: Maintaining Position Within Aquatic Habitats
What are the physical characteristics of water that determine the kinds of places that aquatic plants and animals live?


Activity 18 – To each its home
Where do animals and plants live and what makes them suited to their homes? A classification activity that introduces different parts of aquatic habitats.


Activity 19 – Keeping your head above water
Do things that float or sink behave differently in salt and fresh water? What lets them float? Why do they sink?

Activity 20 – Sinking slowly
How do plants, which need light, maintain their position in the water column if they are heavier than water? How do tiny drifting animals keep from sinking to the bottom? A contest to design an organism that sinks slowest.

Activity 21 – Sink or swim
What are some of the special structures that allow fish to stay up in and move through the water? A fish dissection.

Activity 22 – Grace under pressure
Does water pressure vary with depth?


Activity 23 – Life at the surface
What is the surface of the water like? How can animals take advantage of the water surface as a place to live? A contest to design a model organism that rides on surface tension.


Activity 24 – At the races!
How do fish swim? What are the correlations between body shape, swimming technique and speed? To be done on a trip to a public aquarium or science center which displays fish.

Section IV: Light and Water
What happens to light in water, and what are the consequences for plants and animals that live there?


Activity 25 – Light to sea by
What happens to light when it shines through water?

Activity 26 – Hide and seek
What does it look like under water? What do animals see? Is camouflage the same below water as above?


Activity 27 – A light snack
What is the relationship between light availability and photosynthesis in aquatic plants?


Activity 28 – Competing for food
What is the relationship of food availability to the number of herbivores an area can support? A simulation game.

Activity 29 – Eating and being eaten
What are the feeding relationships among the plants and animals that live in a pond? A simulation of carrying capacity and predator-prey relationships.

Activity 30 – Getting caught
Do some human activities change the feeding relationships, and thus, the ecological balance, of a food web? A simulation.

Section V: Exploration Research and Communication


Activity 31 – Getting to the bottom of things
Can scientists map the bottom of a lake or ocean when they cannot see it? Mapping and sampling a model ocean.

Activity 32 – Underwater exploration
How is modern technology being used to study the physical, geological, chemical and biological nature of the oceans? Research project on technology and its applications.

Activity 33 – Getting wet!
An aquatic field investigation.


Activity 34 – Aquatic language arts
Individual language arts projects with an aquatic theme.

Activity 35 – Habitat detectives
A group project in library research and communication.

Activity 36 – Aquatic science symposium
An aquatic conference for parents or other students.


Production Credits

Below, you’ll find helpful resources for use with the above activities.

Recipes and Resources
Master list for all materials used in this curriculum
Teacher’s outline: classroom note cards for each activity
Sample questions
Salts and solutions
Making water with low and high dissolved oxygen
Moving water and taking samples
Dissolved oxygen test kits
LaMotte dissolved oxygen test kit instructions
Spring scales
Measuring time
Measuring volume
Making graphs
Collecting and looking at zooplankton
The classroom aquarium
Making water without chlorine or how to age tap water
Pond water
Goldfish and guppies
Brine shrimp
Sources of equipment and animals
Sources for curriculum ideas and software

Student Pages For Duplication
Graph paper
Activity 1 worksheet
Activity 2 cards and keys
Activity 3 worksheet
Activity 4 worksheet
Activity 5 worksheet
Activity 6 worksheet
Activity 7 worksheet
Activity 8 worksheet
Activity 9 worksheet
Activity 10 worksheet
Activity 11 worksheet
Activity 12 worksheet
Activity 13 worksheet
Activity 14 worksheet
Activity 15 worksheet
Activity 16 worksheet, game board, cards and rules
Activity 17 worksheet
Activity 18 cards and keys
Activity 19 worksheet
Activity 20 worksheet
Activity 21 worksheet
Activity 22 worksheet
Activity 23 worksheet
Activity 24 information pages
Activity 24 worksheet
Activity 27 worksheet
Activity 28 worksheet
Activity 29 and 30 worksheet
Activity 31 worksheet

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