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Our Acidifying Ocean

Virtual Urchin, Stanford University

This 3-part interactive and virtual lab activity examines the life cycle of the sea urchin, and how the increasing acidity of the ocean affects their larval development.

Suggested lessons around interactive take about three to four 45-minute classroom periods.

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Climate Literacy
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Climate's role in habitats ranges and adaptation of species to climate changes
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Life affects climate; climate affects life
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Observations, experiments, and theory are used to construct and refine computer models
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Increased acidity of oceans and negative impacts on food chain due to increasing carbon dioxide levels
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Ecosystems on land and in the ocean have been and will continue to be disturbed by climate change
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Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
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7.3 Environmental quality.
Ecosystems are affected by changes in the availability of energy and matter.
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3.5 Ecosystems are affected by availability of energy..
Humans live within Earth's ecosystems.
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3.6 Humans live within Earth's ecosystems..

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Educator should work through the interactive thoroughly before students start.
  • There are two options on the interactive lab bench section that asks if students want to use the signals that indicate is a correct lab technique choice has been made. It is strongly suggested that students use this.
  • Based on length of classroom time, educator may need to break up the virtual lab experience into two class periods, completing part one in the first class and part two in the second class.
  • Students should share their data on the board and create a class data table and graph, which could also include data from other classes doing the same activity.
  • VirtualUrchin website has several interactives that students can explore prior to doing the ocean acidification lab.

About the Science

  • In exploring the effects of ocean acidification on larval development of sea urchins in a virtual lab, students consider ocean carbonate chemistry, pH, predator - prey relationships, marine calcifiers.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This is an exceptional activity. The activity explores the science of ocean acidification and how that acidification can affect the calcification of marine organisms. The activity is accurate and in depth. Understanding ocean acidification requires tackling some difficult chemistry. This activity illustrates the chemistry with interactive diagrams that are intuitive and scientifically accurate. What makes this activity outstanding in my opinion is the acidification lab, where a student conducts an experiment investigating the response of sea urchin calcification to different environmental pH levels.

About the Pedagogy

  • VirtualUrchin website includes 8 interactive tutorials, plus teacher resources and links. Our Acidifying Ocean is the 8th tutorial in the series.
  • Interactives teach students about the concepts of pH and ocean carbonate chemistry in easy pop-up menus.
  • Interactives and virtual lab are well constructed and easy to follow.
  • The slide describing the carbon cycle in the ocean is fairly complex and difficult to understand for grade 6-10 students.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • There is not a lot of background science content information provided for educator in the teacher resource section. However, the content material in the interactives is clear, simple and concise.
  • The video that shows the life cycle of a sea biscuit (very similar to sea urchin) in Part 1 is excellent.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN


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