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Students will be introduced to the terminology associated with this issue. Furthermore, students will examine factors that cause the endangerment/extinction of species and the severity of this issues both locally and globally. Students will also examine what organizations/NGOs are doing to address this issue and how they themselves can take action.
Time Required: Five classes + computer lab time
-Students will learn the terminology associated with animal extinction/endangerment
-Students will learn about how species of shark are at risk of extinction due to overfishing, for their fins
-Students will come to understand how delicately balanced ecosystems are and the effects of extinction of a species on an ecosystem
-Students will become aware of the severity of the rates of extinction of species globally
-Students will learn about factors that contribute to the extinction of species
-Students will learn about what species are at risk of extinction and why
-Students will learn about organizations/NGOs that are addressing these issues and how they can take action
-Students will further develop their computer, literacy and communications skills
Activity One – Introduction
-Students will watch the powerful documentary “Sharkwater” which shows how human greed and corruption are threatening the shark species
-Following the screening of this film student will be asked the following questions:
1. What are the consequences to our environment by sharks becoming extinct? (Top of the food chain – bring balance to the ocean ecosystem)
2. What is involved with long line fishing? Why should it be stopped? (Catches other species of fish and is wasteful)
3. To what extent to do you think sharks should be protected? Who should be protecting them?
4. Approximately how many sharks are killed each year? (100 million)
5. By what percent has the shark population decreased? (90%)
7. How many years have sharks been on the earth? (400 million years)
6. How valuable is the shark fin industry? (One large fin can cost $10,000)
7. Why is nothing being done to stop poachers? (No one regulates the oceans (only coastline fishing) and the shark fining industry is unmanaged and unmonitored)
8. What percentage of the shark is wasted when it is fished for its fin? (95%)
Activity Two –Definitions & Factors Related to Species Endangerment & Extinction
-The teacher will begin the class by asking students what factors they think lead to the extinction of a species and record the answers on the board. Students will write the answers in their notebook. The teacher will also ask students if they know of any species that have become extinct.
-The teacher will explain to students that the time it took to answer that question one species on our planet became extinct. By tomorrow 150-200 species will have become extinct and by this time next year 50,000 more will have become extinct (Source: WWF)
-The teacher will ask students what they think are some of the causes for these incredible rates of species extinction? (e.g. human activities –the land we use for living space, food, clothing, housing, fuel, unsustainable consumption, waste; habitat loss; unsustainable trade; bycatch; climate change; invasive species; pollution; human-animal conflict; unsustainable use of natural resources; urban development; international conflict; population growth; illegal wildlife trade). Students will record answers in their notebooks.
-Students will be divided into ten groups and be expected to research (using the internet) the following:
• Climate Change
• Invasive Species
• Threatened Species
• Endangered Species
-Students will be expected to give a definition of each word and report on at least 2 related news articles to the term related to animals. Students will create a blog entry about their topic, with a clear definition, links to their 2 related news articles, summaries of the news articles in their own words and a reflective personal response to the articles they have selected.
-Students will be given time to read their peers blog entries in the computer. The teacher will monitor the students to ensure that they are staying on task. Students will also be expected to respond/comment to at least one blog entry of their classmates, which will be evaluated by the teacher.
Activity 3 – Identified Endangered Species & Statistics
-The teacher will inform students that Biologists estimate there are between 5 and 15 million species of plants, animals, and micro-organisms existing on Earth today, of which only about 1.5 million have been described and named. The estimated total includes around 300,000 plant species, between 4 and 8 million insects, and about 50,000 vertebrate species (of which about 10,000 are birds and 4,000 are mammals). Today, about 23% (1,130 species) of mammals and 12% (1,194 species) of birds are considered as threatened by IUCN. (Source: WWF)
-Students will be given the following links which contain lists and information about endangered and extinct species:
- Students will be expected to write a report about an animal that they have selected, that is endangered. Students will also be expected to create a poster about their selected endangered animal to create awareness within their school.
- Students will be expected to include the following in their report
• Common name of the endangered species
• Scientific name of the endangered species
• Five interesting facts about the species
• Where it lives
• A detailed description of its habitat
• What it eats
• Its predators
• Details about mating and reproduction
• What is the estimated population of the species?
• How many are in captivity?
• Why and how this species has become endangered?
• What human actions have contributed to the endangerment of this species?
• What action(s) are being taken to protect this species?
• Why you think this animal should be saved from extinction? What do you think will happen to the ecosystem if this animal becomes extinct? Explain your answer.
• A picture of their animal
• A graph (using Excel) which shows the decline of this species population over a period of time
• What action can you take to help protect this animal? What can your school community do to help protect this and other endangered species?
• The sources of where you obtained your information
- The report and poster will be assessed using a rubric which will be explained and provided to the student prior to the assignment, so that they are aware of the criteria and expectations.
- Teachers should present the following to the students regarding their posters:
Consider the “Art” of Advertising:
Since posters are a form of advertising, it is important to approach your project thinking about what will be the most interesting, persuasive, enlightening, and effective way to reveal your endangered animal to the public. Since the endangered species problem is essentially about life and death and the ongoing deterioration of the world, you may want your posters and profiles to include eye-opening statistics and other related scientific data. You may also
decide to simply appeal to your audience’s emotions by presenting some sad or affecting aspects about your special animal. Though presenting basic facts and statistics is effective, it seems that gaining the public’s often distracted attention about this very serious and dangerous matter calls for more creative approaches.
Activity Four – What is Being Done
-The teacher will show students the video The Loneliest Animals” from Nature http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/the-loneliest-animals/video-full-episode/4935/
“The loneliest animals are the most endangered species on the planet. Collected and protected by dedicated scientists, these animals represent the end of the line for their species. In many cases, intensive captive breeding programs have been launched with the aim of sustaining these animals and the hope of returning them to the wild. Viewers will be taken into high-security, high-tech labs where scientists attempt to breed new generations, and into the field to discover what forces have led to the demise of entire species.” –PBS
*Teacher’s guide available at http://188.8.131.52/wnet/nature/files/2009/04/nature-loneliest-animals-teachers-guide.pdf
-The teacher will facilitate a discussion about the film using questions from the teachers guide and encourage students to share their thoughts and feelings about the content.
-For homework students will be asked to research organizations that are working towards protecting endangered species. Students will be asked to select one of interest, to them. Students will then be given class time to write a proposal to be presented to our class about why we should support a particular organization and what we can do to help (e.g. fundraising, letter writing etc.). The students will then present their persuasive proposals to their classmates. The class will then take a vote on which organization to support, based on the proposals. Once a decision is reached the class will plan as a group how we will take action.
Activity 5 – Local Endangered Species Art Project
-Students will identify endangered species within their own country. Each student will select one animal. The students will then collaboratively create a mural of animals surround by a representation of their habitats. The mural will be created on 10’ x 3’ piece of paper which will be put on display in the hallway outside of the classroom. Students will be encouraged to blend their pieces with our students work. Students will be provided with pencils, pencil crayons, crayons, markers, pastels and charcoal to create their art. The mural will be titled.
Documentary - "Sharkwater" Mural sized sheet of paper 10' x 3' Art supplies Poster paper Computers MS Office Video from Nature - "The Loneliest Animals"