Learn while you just keep swimming with our FINDING DORY homeschool unit study!
FINDING DORY, a sequel to the 2003 smash Disney•Pixar hit FINDING NEMO, splashes into theaters on the 17th of this month. When we first met the friendly-but-oh-so-forgetful blue tang fish, she was helping her friend Marlin locate his son Nemo, who had been captured by scuba divers off the coast of Australia. Along their journey, Dory and Marlin encountered many adventures and became lifelong pals. Despite becoming like family to Marlin and Nemo, however, Dory misses the family she knows she has but can’t quite remember. In the upcoming film, Dory sets off on a mission to reunite with her loved ones. She meets some new friends as she travels, and everyone soon learns a few things about the real meaning of family.
FINDING DORY‘s storyline reacquaints viewers with the open ocean, but it also introduces us to an aquarium setting, and teaches us that octopi can drive! (Sorry, spoiler alert there!) The film brings back some familiar characters and aquatic species. From FINDING NEMO, we, of course, have Dory, a blue tang; Marlin and Nemo, clownfish; Mr. Ray, a manta ray; and everyone’s favorite sea turtle, Crush. In FINDING DORY, we also get to meet some new friends: Charlie and Jenny, blue tangs, and Dory’s parents; Destiny, a whale shark; Bailey, a beluga whale; Fluke and Rudder, sea lions; Becky, a loon; and Hank, an octopus. Let’s see what we can learn while we just keep swimming along with Dory and her friends!
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We’ll cover a few different school subjects with our unit study: science, literature, art, and conservation. Let’s get started!
- When we think of the ocean, we may assume the ground beneath the water is like what we see at the beach with soft, squishy sand and shallow depths, but the oceans actually contain mountains, cliffs, valleys, peaks, and plateaus. Drain away the water, and the sea floor would look pretty similar to the land. Read and study the articles below with your students. Have them select a particular oceanic region and chart the heights and depths of its landforms, or perhaps have them sculpt it with clay or paper mache. Consider also how these hills and valleys affect water motion, ocean currents, water temperature, salinity, and biodiversity of the region:
“Topography of the Ocean Floor” from Bright Hub Engineering
“Seafloor Topography and Ocean Circulation” from Sarah T. Gille
“Nautical Charts Online” from NOAA
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a United States governmental agency that studies everything from the sun to the ocean floor to keep citizens informed of the ever-changing environment. Its mission is “Science, Service, and Stewardship. To understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources,” and they accomplish it by studying oceanic and atmospheric conditions the world over.Ocean currents affect weather conditions, sailing vessels and marine life. NOAA offers a unit study on ocean currents, like the EAC. The study covers the significance of floats and buoys, storm tendencies and weather patterns like El Nino, and the relationship between current speed and depth. Take time today to explore all the activities offered. Click here to access FREE downloadable teacher and student materials.
- Oceans have layers like Earth’s rock. In the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Captain Nemo travels to different levels of the ocean. Each level of the ocean houses different kinds of fish perfectly suited to survive in that level. Your assignment is to pick a layer of the ocean to explore. See what kinds of fish live there and how they are designed to survive that particular level. Also see what scientists have discovered and ponder the mysteries of the depths that remain.
- The Gulf Stream is the oceanic current that flows along the Atlantic coast of the United States, beginning in the Caribbean and carrying warm waters northward, eventually making the waters of northwest Europe more tepid than those of other regions at the same latitude. (To read more about the Gulf Stream, visit CIMAS.) Similarly, the California Current flows southward from British Columbia, keeping Hawaii cooler than other land masses at its latitude. (For more on the California Current, visit NOAA.)Follow this Science Buddies experiment to replicate ocean currents using common household items in your kitchen: “The objective of this ocean science fair project is to make a model of ocean currents and measure how the heat input affects velocity of the currents.”Items you will need:
• Glass bread loaf dish, 1.5-qt.
• Thyme, dried (or any other dried leaf spice) (2 tsp.)
• Vegetable oil (about 4 cups)
• Measuring cup
• Ceramic coffee mugs (2)
• Small candles or cans of Sterno® (4)
• Lighter or matches
• Paper for sketching
• Adult helper
• Lab notebook
• Graph paperFollow the step-by-step instructions here.
Visit your local library and check out this reading list found at A Teacher Without a Class!
Check out hative.com to find several fish crafts for kids, including making fish puppets from clothes pins, jellyfish wind hangers with styrofoam bowls and crepe paper, hand print fish paintings, and more!
- Based in Gainesville, Florida, and formerly known as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, the non-profit Sea Turtle Conservancy is the oldest sea turtle research and conservation group in the world. World-renowned sea turtle expert, Dr. Archie Carr, founded STC in 1959 to save sea turtles from extinction by utilizing conservation techniques, pursuing research and education, enacting advocacy, and protecting sea turtle habitats. Since its founding, STC has been instrumental in discovering and documenting much of what is now known about sea turtles and the threats they face, and applies that knowledge to sea turtle protection and recovery programs.
This summer, Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) will launch the ninth annual Tour de Turtles: A Sea Turtle Migration Marathon. Tour de Turtles, introduced in 2008, is a satellite-tracked, sea-turtle migration educational program aimed at raising awareness about different sea turtle species and the human threats to their survival. It also encourages positive stewardship of ocean and coastal habitats. This year’s Tour de Turtles will begin August 1, 2015, tracking 14 individual sea turtles for approximately three months as they race to complete a “turtle marathon.” You can learn about the competitors, track each turtle’s progress, and see what obstacles they may face along their journey at the online event: www.tourdeturtles.org. You will be able to support your favorite turtle through an adoption or by making a pledge for each mile they swim. Videos and interactive games will also be part of the Tour de Turtles multi-media experience.Learn more about STC, the Tour de Turtles, and much more sea turtle conservation tips and information at conserveturtles.org. You can also keep up with STC via their social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- “The Medina Aquarius Program is dedicated to the study and preservation of marine ecosystems worldwide. As part of the FIU Marine Education and Research Initiative, the Program is enhancing the scope and impact of FIU on research, educational outreach, technology development, and professional training. At the heart of the program is the one-of-a-kind Aquarius Reef Base, the world’s only undersea research laboratory.Deployed 60 feet beneath the surface in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Aquarius is a globally significant asset that provides unparalleled means to study the ocean, test and develop state-of-the-art undersea technology, train specialized divers and astronauts, and engage the world’s imagination. At Aquarius, scientists are at the cutting edge of research on coral reefs, ocean acidification, climate change, fisheries and the overall health of the oceans.” Visit the Aquarius website today to access FREE teacher resources and download educational lesson plans.
- SeaWorld Orlando has launched a live video call program – free for teachers – that allows classes to dive into marine mammal biology, questions, and careers in a new way. This virtual field trip, available on Skype and Google Hangouts, is a 30-minute live, interactive call and Q & A session featuring SeaWorld’s trainers and whales. The program topics are customizable for elementary, middle school, high school and university levels.
- SeaWorld’s education team works one-on-one with each teacher to tailor the chat to their curriculum and the students’ ages.
- The interactive sessions are led by trainers, poolside with the whales, and cover topics including: physiology, behavior and communication; positive reinforcement animal training techniques; scientific insights learned by studying orcas at SeaWorld that can help whales in the wild.
- Following the interactive session, the floor is open for students to ask the experts any questions they have about the animals, their care, or the trainers.
Teachers interested in SeaWorld’s free live video call sessions can sign up at SeaWorldOrlando.com/Education.
Some other simple learn while you just keep swimming suggestions include using Goldfish crackers for math manipulatives; enjoying tuna on Goldfish bread for lunch; swimming like a fish in your local pool or water park; visiting The Seas with Nemo and Friends at Walt Disney World’s Epcot (which has added FINDING DORY characters to the popular Turtle Talk with Crush attraction), visiting any of the SeaWorld parks (including Discovery Cove), or taking a day trip to other aquariums; and stopping by the official FINDING DORY Disney Pixar website to check out some additional resources, like an activity packet, responsible fish ownership guide, and educator’s guide.
SCHOOL SUBJECT(s): Marine biology, oceanography, literature, art, conservation
SKILL LEVEL: Elementary, Middle Grades
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