Predator Protector Game Lesson
In the Web-based game Predator Protector, students take on the role of an Ocean Adventures expedition volunteer member. In this role, students are charged with protecting three species of sharks from danger in order to defend the balance of nature in the ecosystem that these top predators help to maintain. Use the tips and handouts below to turn the Predator Protector game into a structured learning activity for your students.
Grades 6 through 10
One to two class periods
Students will be able to:
- describe the habitat, food web and ecosystem of three different shark species.
- identify threats to sharks.
- explain how top predators, such as sharks, help to maintain the balance of nature within ecosystems.
National Science Education Standards Grades 5-8 (at www.nap.edu)
Science As Inquiry - Content Standard A:
Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
Life Science - Content Standard C:
Reproduction and heredity
Regulation and behavior
Populations and ecosystems
Diversity and adaptations of organisms
Science in Personal and Social Perspectives - Content Standard F:
Populations, resources and environments
Ocean Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts (at coexploration.org)
Essential Principle #1: Earth has one big ocean with many features.
a. The ocean is the dominant physical feature on our planet Earth, covering approximately 70 percent of the planet's surface. There is one ocean with many ocean basins, such as the North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian and Arctic.
h. Although the ocean is large, it is finite and its resources are limited.
Essential Principle #5: The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.
d. Ocean biology provides many unique examples of life cycles, adaptations and important relationships among organisms (symbiosis, predator-prey dynamics and energy transfer) that do not occur on land.
e. The ocean is three-dimensional, offering vast living space and diverse habitats from the surface through the water column to the seafloor. Most of the living space on Earth is in the ocean.
Essential Principle #6: The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.
e. Humans affect the ocean in a variety of ways. Laws, regulations and resource management affect what is taken out and put into the ocean. Human development and activity leads to pollution (point source, nonpoint source and noise pollution) and physical modifications (changes to beaches, shores and rivers). In addition, humans have removed most of the large vertebrates from the ocean.
f. Everyone is responsible for caring for the ocean. The ocean sustains life on Earth, and humans must live in ways that sustain the ocean. Individual and collective actions are needed to effectively manage ocean resources for all.
Essential Principle #7: The ocean is largely unexplored.
c. Over the last 40 years, use of ocean resources has increased significantly; therefore the future sustainability of ocean resources depends on our understanding of those resources and their potential and limitations.
In the second episode of Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures, Sharks at Risk, Jean-Michel Cousteau and his dive team travel to French Polynesia and South Africa to swim with sharks and to dispel the myth that sharks are senseless killers. Their expedition uncovers the threats sharks face from their human predators and explores the vital role these top predators play in supporting the intricate balance that makes up the ocean ecosystem.
Based on the experiences of the Ocean Adventures team, Predator Protector is a fast-paced interactive game in which students are the environmental heroes, protecting sharks from the numerous dangers that plague them in the ocean and thus helping to preserve the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Playing the part of an Ocean Adventures volunteer team member, students visit three separate locations to protect different species of sharks -- the shallow waters of California to swim with swell sharks, the mid-depth reef waters of French Polynesia to trail gray reef sharks and the cold, deep waters of Australia to protect the great white shark. Swimming behind one of the sharks, students are armed with repellent to deter the shark from life-threatening pressures. They accumulate points by keeping their shark alive long enough to find food and by ensuring their shark lives long enough to reproduce and keep the population stable. Students will need to monitor the level of shark health and time left on their mission. Upon completion of the game, students will analyze their data and compile a report describing what they have learned, then submit their report to the Volunteer Supervisor (the teacher).
- Using blank student handouts, play Predator Protector yourself, paying particular attention to where you think your students will need extra guidance.
- Review the Game Background and the Answer Key.
- Based on the availability of computers, decide the best way for students to play the game -- individually, in pairs or in groups.
- Illuminate students with background information about sharks and spark their curiosity by using the Shark Encounter activity to introduce study of sharks.
1. Review Background Information: It will be helpful if your students have a general understanding of ecological relationships before beginning the interactive -- review terms such as "predator," "prey," "producer," "consumer" and "decomposer." Also introduce students to the game's three shark species (swell shark, gray reef shark, great white shark) and the location of and facts about their habitats and ecosystems. Use the Vanishing Sharks interactive and essays located on the Sharks at Risk Web site for assistance.
2. Introducing top predators: Use ideas from the Sharks at Risk Viewing Guide to set the scene. Pay particular attention to the Segment Suggestions for the ecosystem balance/food web and longline fishing/other human factors themes. If you do not have access to the Sharks at Risk episode, use the Ocean Adventures Web site to find pictures of the sharks to show to students, then lead a class discussion about the dangers facing shark populations and the importance of sharks to ecosystem stability.
3. Game Setup: Pass out the Volunteers Wanted! student sheet, a fictional posting for a volunteer position introducing volunteers (the students) to their shark protection mission. Explain to students that as part of the Ocean Adventures team, they are a part of this volunteer mission. Give students an overview of how to play Predator Protector, hand out the Location Data Sheet, the Shark Species Data Sheet and the Shark Threat Data Sheet and explain that they will be collecting information on these organizers for later use. Have students record their hypotheses on their Location Data Sheet before game play begins.
4. Game Play: Allow students sufficient time to play the game and collect data.
5. Data Sharing: Set aside time for students to gather in small groups to review data after game play has ended to ensure all students have understood the game.
6. Reporting Information: Pass out the Reporting Data handout and explain the directions. Students will submit this "report" to you, their Volunteer Supervisor.
- Depending on the number of computers available, you might want to make adjustments, such as having students play the game on alternate days.
Jessica Neely is the KQED Education Network Project Supervisor for Science Initiatives. Prior to this she was a secondary Life and Environmental Science Teacher. KQED Education Network uses the power of KQED Public Broadcasting to inspire learning by providing projects for youth and curriculum materials and professional development for teachers, child care providers and families.
PDF FILE FORMAT
These Ocean Adventures lessons and other materials are available as printer-friendly PDFs (Portable Document Format). To download and view the lesson plans as a PDF, you may first have to get Adobe Acrobat Reader, available for free on Adobe's Web site. The Reader is available for most computer platforms, and once downloaded the lessons may be viewed on-screen as well as printed out. Get Acrobat Reader software (at adobe.com)