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Icon of observations and models

Observations and Models Module

This module introduces students to two types of data sources: data derived from observations and data produced by models. Students will learn about the differences and similarities between these two data sources, how to recognize each, and how each type of data is used by scientists to make predictions. Students will also explore the methods biologists, ecologists and other scientists use to estimate the sizes and compositions of populations of organisms by observing limited samples from those populations. Students will investigate these methods in familiar environments, including a strawberry patch in a garden and birds at a feeder, before applying the concepts to marine habitats. Students will conduct “virtual dives” to observe simulated marine habitats generated by models and by observational data. Students will use these ideas to estimate future populations of tuna and of lobster.

The following are all the resources for implementing this module:

  • Module Activities
    Detailed instructions to the eight activities making up this module. All instructions are made available as printable HTML pages.
  • VES-V Software Tutorial
    This tutorial introduces students to the capabilities and navigation of the VES-V software through a virtual dive. The worksheets are made available as printable HTML pages.
  • Student Data Worksheets
    Worksheets needed by students to carry out the module activities. The worksheets are made available as printable HTML pages.
  • NGSS aligned to this module
    All the Next Generation Science Standards - Disciplinary Core ideas, Cross Cutting Concepts, and Science & Engineering Principles - aligned to this module’s activities and linked to the NGSS Website.
  • Presentation Graphics Used in this Module
    All graphics presented in the Teacher Pages/Activity Instructions. Suitable for projection or presentation while teaching these activities
  • Accessibility Acknowledgement for the Virtual Ecosystem Scenario Viewer (VES-V)
    NOAA is committed to ensuring digital accessibility for people with disabilities. We are continually striving to improve the user experience for everyone, and applying the relevant accessibility standards. Despite our best efforts to ensure accessibility of our content, there may be some limitations. Below is a description of known limitations with VES-V.
    Limitations and Alternatives

    The VES-V is visually driven in nature and supported by the third-party "perspectx.com." Color contrast, assistive technology support, and alternate text may be unsupported.

    The following activities within the Observations & Models Module may be completed without the use of VES-V software. As some of these were originally designed to be used with it, they will require some adaptation by the educator to make them accessible for students with disabilities.

    • Activity II: A Simple Temperature Models for Three Towns
    • Activity III: Hawai’i Temperature Observations and Model
    • Activity IV: Temperature Graphs of Observations and Models
    • Activity V: Sampling to Estimate the Number of Strawberries
    • Activity VIII: Predicting Future Lobster and Tuna Populations

    We welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you encounter accessibility barriers on any of our education content: nos.info@noaa.gov