Medicine from the Ocean
Warm-up: Our Diverse Ocean
1.Begin this lesson by discussing with your class the uniqueness of the ocean. Ask the following questions:
a) Guess how many planets in the universe contain water. Scientists estimate that approximately 100-200 billion planets exist in the whole universe, but only one has liquid water according to our knowledge.
b) Why is the ocean so important to life on Earth?Your students might state that people enjoy having the ocean for beauty, the ocean can be used for recreation and provide jobs and food. They might also note that the ocean covers approximately 70 percent of the earth's surface, and contains a myriad of organisms. Also, the ocean is a very rare resource: our planet is the only known planet in the universe that contains liquid water.
c) Name an ocean organism that benefits the Earth? Students might state that plankton help with photosynthesis, algae increases productivity for other species, etc. Not only do these organisms contribute to the marine ecosystem, but also aid in developing medicines.
d) What are some resources from the ocean that humans use? Food, energy, medicine, etc.
Activity One: Marine Medicine Scavenger Hunt
1. Tell students to imagine that they are ocean explorers examining different species. As explorers, part of their job is to research certain organisms and further probe into the depths of the ocean to investigate innovative ways for developing human-related medicines. Hand out Reproducible # 1 – Marine Medicine Matching.
2. Have students use the internet to research each organism to identify its contribution to medicine.
3. After students complete the worksheet during class time, review their answers and discuss any information students have discovered through their research.
4. Foster a discussion about whether or not students were surprised by the results of their ocean exploration findings. Mention that the worksheet only included 13 species. Have students ponder and discuss what other potential benefits may exist in the ocean.
Activity Two: Marine Career Investigation
1. For this activity, hand out Reproducible #2 – Marine Career Investigation: List of Careers, and Reproducible #3 – Marine Career Investigation to students.
2. Have them choose one career of interest to research.
3. Using the Internet or other available resources for students to individually complete Reproducible #3 – Marine Career Investigation.
4. Allow students to complete the worksheet at home and turn it in the following day.
Activity Three: Coral Reef Management
2. Have students read the article and then answer the following questions on Reproducible #4– New York Times Article Response Questions.
3. Reinforce students’ understandings of coral management, by reviewing the concept as defined in the Relevant Vocabulary section.
4. After students finish reading the article and complete the response questions, begin a brief discussion that examines their thoughts on the article and the need for coral management.
5. Introduce the next project on coral reef management to the class. Divide the class into groups of 3-5 students. Hand out Reproducible #5 – Coral Reef Management Proposal.
6. Tell students that they must devise a proposal for a hypothetical coral system off the coast of southeastern Florida. The proposal should explore the various methods of coral management, in particular coral populations and the effectiveness of artificial versus natural coral reef system support. For the proposal, students can choose to support the protection and management of coral, state a need for an increase in coral management, investigate the utility of artificial coral reefs or suggest a decrease in coral management. They will form their proposal detailing their suggestions after their research.
7. Students should begin research in class on the second day and finish it at home to present the following day. Inform students that presentations should be three to five minutes and must include a visual display of a poster, PowerPoint or anything else that illustrates their ideas for the class.
Ask students the following questions:
1. What are the benefits and drawbacks of ocean exploration and management? Answers will vary, but the following can be used as an example: a benefit that stems from ocean exploration includes the development of medicines. However, this does come at a price; by using resources from the ocean and its organisms, species’ populations do decline or become damaged by our possible misuse and extraction.
2. Why do many scientists consider the ocean a vital resource, in particular, for medicine? The compounds and chemicals extracted from the ocean and its organisms provide us with numerous medicines that help prevent diseases, act as antidotes, conduct research, make new discoveries and assist in keeping us healthy. These resources are only available in a healthy ocean.
3. What is one thing that you learned about the career you researched? Answers will vary.
4. Give examples of how your own life has been affected by people in the careers you researched. Answers will vary but may include different medicines, safe travel across seas, salt water fish tanks, SCUBA certifications, movies, magazines, etc.
1. Examine our other lesson plan on technologies and the ocean, Innovation in the Ocean, to see how the ocean can sustainably provide for human food and energy needs.
2. Have students contact a person in the previously selected career path to learn more about the first hand perspectives of ocean-based careers.
3. Visit your local aquarium and explore what other facets of the ocean are utilized for human benefit. Some examples could include transportation, arts and entertainment, energy, etc.
Students examined how the ocean supplies humans with numerous medicines and benefits crucial to our survival – a unique ocean connection that carries with it various levels of resource management. By investigating a marine related career choice, students observed the various fields of interest associated with the ocean. By specifically studying coral reefs, students further understood the delicate nature of ocean life and its relation to human society. Finally, students were able to explore and demonstrate critical thinking skills in relation to coral reef management.