Earth and life sciences middle school programme

The thematic sequence on “Oceans: a living environment” is particularly pertinent for earth and life sciences class. Some sessions from the sequences on “Oceans and Climate” and “Oceans and Humans” can be added to provide a more all-encompassing program.

Below is an example of a 17-session program.



II.1 – The blue planet

Reviewing documents, pupils will be exposed to the vastness of oceans and the diversity of life therein. They will realise how large and poorly understood oceans are.

II.2 - Where do marine species live?

By examining the cards showing a selection of marine species and their habitats, the pupils will discover that large zones can be delineated in the oceans. They will also notice that certain species migrate (horizontally or vertically) over the course of their lives or even over the course of one day.

II.3 - Relationships between species: kinship (1)

Using the cards from the previous session, children explore the main ways living organisms are classified. In this session, they are introduced to the idea of characteristics. They observe different species and draw up a table summarizing their characteristics.

II.4 - Relationships between species: kinship (2)

Pupils complete the classification work they began in the previous session, using the ocean animal cards and the characteristic observation table.

II.5 - Relationships between species: interactions

Using the cards from the previous sessions, children explore different ways in which species interact. They create a food web using information from the cards. They also learn about parasitism and symbiosis.

II.6 - A fragile balance

Different ecosystem models (including the food web from the previous session) can show the effects of even minor external disturbances: a new invasive species, overfishing, changes to reproduction or predation rates, etc.

II.7 -  School trip on the intertidal zone

For schools near the coast, trips to intertidal areas may be organised to observe the environment and take samples of different species.

II.8 - Phytoplankton and zooplankton

Using magnifying glasses and microscopes to make observations, pupils learn about the microscopic organisms living in the ocean.

II.9 – Four ocean ecosystems

Classes study documents to learn about different oceanic ecosystems: coral reefs, abyssal zones, mangroves, and polar regions.

I.9 -  CO2 emissions and acidification of the oceans

The pupils will use an experiment to demonstrate that CO2 emissions lead to acidification of the oceans.

I.10 - Consequences of ocean acidification on living organisms

By studying coral bleaching and observing the dissolution of a shell in vinegar, the pupils will understand that the acidification of the oceans harms marine species, especially shellfish and corals.

III.3 -  Observing the oceans

Documents can be used to illustrate various means of observing the oceans and their utilisation in studying living things, managing risks, investigating the climate, etc.

III.5 - Waste

Pupils discover, through document study, a major problem related to human activities: the accumulation of waste in the oceans.

III.8 - Fishing

Fishing for food is the world’s most widespread ocean activity. Overfishing is however threating some species, often to the extent that they risk extinction. Fish farming at sea and sustainable fishing are the conclusions of this documentary study.

III.9 - Maritime trades

Pupils discover, through documentary study, the different maritime livelihoods related to a variety of industries: transport, trade, leisure, food, energy, research, rescue services

III.10 - Project completion activity: the Ocean Charter

The aim of this session is to look back on what was learned about the relationship between humans and oceans. Pupils write up a charter for the oceans protection.

Assessment and summary session

As an evaluation and during an educational assessment activity (building a conceptual storyline), the pupils recall the different ideas seen in previous sessions.


<< Back to the pedagogical module

Project partners