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Oysters In the Chesapeake Bay

K-12 NOAA Science Module Development

Oysters In the Chesapeake Bay

Oyster Project Overview

Contributors and Writers

The conceptual ideas presented in “A Framework for K-12 Science Education” from the National Research Council articulates a vision of the scope and nature of education in science, engineering, and technology in which students, over multiple years of school, actively engage in scientific and engineering practices, and apply crosscutting concepts to deepen their understanding of the core ideas in these fields. The learning experience provided for students should engage them with fundamental questions about the world and with how scientists have investigated and found answers to those questions.

This Oyster curriculum project represents a collaborative effort to identify and build an engaging set of K-12 education resources that comprehensively support the vision for science education using the Eastern Oyster in Chesapeake Bay as the organizing theme.

Important shifts in science education include:

  1. K-12 Science Education should reflect the interconnected nature of science as it is practiced and experienced in the real world.

  2. Students must be engaged in learning that incorporates all of three dimensions:

  3. Three Dimensional Learning provides a more seamless blending of practices with core ideas and crosscutting concepts.

  4. There is a coherent investigation of core ideas across multiple years of school.

  5. Foundational understanding of science supports ALL students.

Elementary School

The elementary portion of the Oysters on the Chesapeake Bay learning sequence consists of six lessons; one for each grade in Kindergarten through 5th. Each lesson targets an important area in the study of oysters: individually, as part of an ecosystem, and in oyster restoration. While not directly building on each other, the lessons incorporate age-appropriate skills used in previous lessons and build new skills. Kindergarteners begin by learning about pollution in water, and in subsequent years build knowledge about oyster shells, oyster reefs, and oyster internal anatomy. By fifth grade, students consolidate their learning, examine other perspectives, and demonstrate their mastery of ecological principles. They investigate and communicate conflicting interests in oyster harvest and restoration and learn how science can be helpful in navigating the complexity of biological and sociological interactions.

A team of educators from the Chesapeake Region created the framework and wrote the activities in the sequence.

There are six grade levels in the unit:

Middle School: It Takes a Watershed to Raise an Oyster

View the materials

This learning sequence incorporates three dimensional learning from the K-12 Framework for Science Education with connections to Common Core, and the Maryland Environmental Literacy Standards.  The sequence was originally conceptualized by a team of educators from the Chesapeake Bay region.

The sequence is comprised of seven lessons, each building on the knowledge and skills of the previous one incorporating the three dimensions of learning. These dimensions are included in each lesson and the learning sequence builds toward deeper understandings and issue investigation skills. (http://www.nextgenscience.org/three-dimensions)

There are two modules in the unit:

High School: Exploring Environmental Issues Related to the Eastern Oyster in Chesapeake Bay

Exploring Environmental Issues Related to the Eastern Oyster in Chesapeake Bay is a high school level transdisciplinary unit of study for that incorporate both State and National Education Standards for science, with connections to Common Core, and the Maryland Environmental Literacy Standards.  There are also strong connections to the College, Career, and Civic Life Standards (C3 Framework for Social Studies), including history, economics, and politics.

The sequence was developed by a team of NOAA educators with guidance from teachers in the Chesapeake Bay region, who reviewed the lessons.

This learning sequence is comprised of four modules, each building on the knowledge and skills of the previous one, and each with different overarching questions. These modules build on in-depth issue analysis skills as students investigate a local environmental issue that they are concerned about and want to investigate. The lessons have been developed with three-dimensional learning in mind, “the idea that science is both a body of knowledge, and an evidence-based model and theory-building enterprise that extends and refines previous knowledge.” (http://www.nextgenscience.org/three-dimensions) The challenge for this investigative unit is to answer the following question: How do we increase Chesapeake Bay oyster populations, while providing economic, cultural, and ecological benefits?

There are four modules in the unit: