Teacher Introduction: How To Use This Website

Introduction of Goals

So, you think you need to live by the ocean to learn about the animals that live in it? Think again! This website is intended to use The Hunter’s Breath: On Expedition with the Weddell Seals of the Antarctic by T.M. Williams as a model on which to base a unit of classroom science education for children in grades 5 – 8. Both the Weddell seal and the environment in which it lives are examples of extremes that can be used to illustrate much of the content emphasized by the National Science Education Standards as recommended science curriculum. Following a real-life story of scientific discovery and engaging in the related activities presented on this website will bring to students a deeper understanding and appreciation of the ways animals are adapted to live in unique environments, and how those environments can present challenges to even the most well-adapted animals. Moreover, these activities will build a strong foundation of scientific principles and methods in young students that will prepare them for a future in marine science. The activities are designed in accordance with the National Science Education Standards. They focus on integrating all aspects of science content and connecting science to other school subjects. Particular attention is paid to using the students’ experiences and level of understanding to aid in science comprehension. By providing a hands-on approach, the activities solidify scientific concepts. The following table illustrates how each activity on this site applies to the national standards.

Middle School Content Standard
Relevant Activity
Life Science

Structure and Function

Fat Intake Activity
Regulation and behavior
Insulation Activity
Diversity and Adaptations of Organisms
Breath-holding Activity
Earth Science
Properties of Water in the Ocean
Salinity/Freezing Point Activity
Physical Science
Fat Intake Activity
Freezing Points
Salinity/Freezing Point Activity

We encourage you to utilize this website to inspire students. Through these activities, you will demonste that science is an adventure that can take you to amazing places. Not everything that scientists study has to be observed through a microscope, and above all, science is exciting and fun!

Activity Structure

Each activity pertains to an aspect of Weddell seal physiology or Antarctic oceanography. Although reading The Hunter’s Breath is not a prerequisite for conducting these activities, the book offers invaluable background and will aid teachers in answering student questions related to seals and the Antarctic. Each activity begins with an introduction that describes a challenge that Weddell seals face (building a blubber layer as a young pup, keeping warm in freezing water, having to dive to find food, and why seals don’t become trapped beneath the ice).

All activities are written in terms easily understood by students and teachers alike. The introduction lays the foundation for the activity, and teachers should spend some time discussing the introduction with students prior to beginning the activity. Materials and procedures for the activity are presented in detail. Materials can be purchased at grocery or drug stores, and approximate prices are listed. A data sheet accompanies each activity, where students record their findings and answer follow-up questions to analyze their data. In this way, students are given the full experience of conducting science.

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