Subject Time Grade Platform
Plankton Lab 75-90 minutes 6th – 8th Live Interactive Lab

Overview & Course Topics

VSC’s Plankton Lab imparts an understanding of the many vital aspects of plankton. Virtual Sea Camp students learn about the three types of plankton; zooplankton, phytoplankton and dinoflagellates as well as the two sub categories. The lecture portion also teaches about the life cycle, limiting factors, place in the food chain as well as the importance plankton plays in the marine environment and the world.

Students embark with VSC marine scientists on one of our research vessels to discover what they can find in the plankton tows. Hypotheses are made while students walk through the steps of the scientific method.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this lab you should be able to:

  • Understand the importance of plankton in our world through the food web and provision of oxygen
  • Explain the characteristics of the three types of plankton
  • Understand how to identify the various phases of meroplankton
  • Understand the processes of photosynthesis
  • Develop one or more theories about plankton
  • Make a homemade plankton net
  • Make a slide and look at plankton in a microscope

Curriculum Standards – Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science & Engineering Practices & Crosscutting Concepts

Disciplinary Core Ideas: All Below are MS

LS1.A.4: In multicellular organisms, the body is a system of multiple interacting subsystems. These subsystems are groups of cells that work together to form tissues and organs that are specialized for particular body functions.

LS1.B.1: Animals engage in characteristic behaviors that increase the odds of reproduction.

LS1.B.2: Plants reproduce in a variety of ways, sometimes depending on animal behavior and specialized features for reproduction.

LS1.C.1: Plants, algae (including phytoplankton), and many microorganisms use the energy from light to make sugars (food) from carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water through the process of photosynthesis, which also releases oxygen. These sugars can be used immediately or stored for growth or later use.

LS1.C.2: Within individual organisms, food moves through a series of chemical reactions in which it is broken down and rearranged to form new molecules, to support growth, or to release energy.

LS2.A.1: Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors.

LS2.A.2: In any ecosystem, organisms and populations with similar requirements for food, water, oxygen, or other resources may compete with each other for limited resources, access to which consequently constrains their growth and reproduction.

LS2.A.3: Growth of organisms and population increases are limited by access to resources.

LS2.A.4: Similarly, predatory interactions may reduce the number of organisms or eliminate whole populations of organisms. Mutually beneficial interactions, in contrast, may become so interdependent that each organism requires the other for survival. Although the species involved in these competitive, predatory, and mutually beneficial interactions vary across ecosystems, the patterns of interactions of organisms with their environments, both living and nonliving, are shared.

LS2.B.1: Food webs are models that demonstrate how matter and energy is transferred between producers, consumers, and decomposers as the three groups interact within an ecosystem. Transfers of matter into and out of the physical environment occur at every level. Decomposers recycle nutrients from dead plant or animal matter back to the soil in terrestrial environments or to the water in aquatic environments. The atoms that make up the organisms in an ecosystem are cycled repeatedly between the living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem.

MS-LS1.1: Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.

MS-LS1.4: Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.

MS-LS1.6: Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.

MS-LS2.1:   Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.

MS-LS2.4: Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.

MS-ETS1.1: Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.

ETS1.B.1: There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem.

ETS1.B.3: A solution needs to be tested, and then modified on the basis of the test results in order to improve it. There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet criteria and constraints of a problem.

CCCS..ELA-Literacy.RST6.8-3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.

CCCS..ELA-Literacy.RST6.8-1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.

Science & Engineering Practices

1 A-H ASKING QUESTIONS AND DEFINING PROBLEMS

2 G DEVELOPING AND USING MODELS

3 C,D,E PLANNING AND CARRYING OUT INVESTIGATION

  1. A,B, D, F, G, H ANALYZING AND INTERPRETING DATA
  2. A-F CONSTRUCTING EXPLANATIONS AND DESIGNING SOLUTIONS
  3. A-E OBTAINING, EVALUATING, AND COMMUNICATING INFORMATION

Crosscutting Concepts

PATTERNS

Patterns can be used to identify cause and effect relationships

Graphs, charts and images can be used to identify patterns in data

STABILITY AND CHANGE

Small changes in one part of a system might cause large changes in another part.

CAUSE AND AFFECT

Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

INFLUENCE OF ENGINEERING, TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE ON SOCIETY AND THE NATURAL WORLD

All human activity draws on natural resources and has both short and long term consequences, positive as well as negative, for the health of people and the natural environment.