Curr: Have you seen this? (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Mon, 4 Mar 1996 12:47:23

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From: Michael Williamson <>
Subject: Curr: Have you seen this? (fwd)
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'Beans and Baleen', simulation activity for estimating populations
These lesson plans are the result of the work of theteachers who have attended
the Columbia EducationCenter's Summer Workshop.  CEC is a consortium of
teacherfrom 14 western states dedicated to improving thequality of education
in the rural, western, United States, and particularly the quality of math and
science Education.  CEC uses Big Sky Telegraph as the hub of their
telecommunications network that allows the participating teachers to stay in
contact with their trainers and peers that they have met at the Workshops.
TITLE:    Beans and Baleen
AUTHOR:   Anne Germain Lucas, Houghtaling Elem.,
'Beans and Baleen', simulation activity for estimating populations
GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT:  2-8, Science/Mathematics
OVERVIEW:  Students will engage in a simulation designed to mirror some of
 the problems that scientists face when counting populations.
PURPOSE:  This activity uses beans to focus on some of the techniques and
problems involved in estimating size of whale populations.
OBJECTIVE(s):  Students will be able to:
1. collect and organize data
2. make a prediction based on the collection of data
3. explain his/her thinking (justify his/her    conclusions)
1.   counting box (8 x 8 box with 4x4 window)  assemble box, using acetate, and
2.   large lima beans, lentils, pinto beans (or any  three types of beans to
	represent three  populations - and watermelon seeds to represent
    	unidentified objects
3.   poster with key or guide showing which bean  represents which whale
4.   student recording sheet
5.   overhead projector
Resources: RCA (Ocean Related Curriculum Activities), Marine Education
Project, Washington Sea Grant, Pacific Science Center, 200 2nd Ave. N., Seattle,
WA. 98109 Robin Snyder & John Dickenson, Point Higgins Elementary, Pouch Z,
Ketchikan, Alaska 99901
1.   Tell students they are going to be scientists  whose job will be to record
	whale populations in a  certain area.
2.   Ask students how they would count a whale population. Accept all
3.   Explain that present whale populations are difficult to estimate, and that
	estimates of the original populations of whales are not much more than
	educated guesses. The International Whaling Commission, the only
	worldwide organization with any responsibility for controlling the
	whaling  industry, bases its population estimates on sightings and the
	number of whales caught compared to the effort involved.
4.   Explain to students that they will be recording the number of whales
	sighted on four different days.
5.   Use three types of beans to represent three whale populations. For example
	put 4 limas, 3 pintos, 6 lentils in a sealed envelope. Open the envelope
	and spill into the ocean area (8 x 8 box). Shake the box back and forth
	and place on overhead projector.
6.   Students count and record what they see. Ask students to describe the
	difficulties in counting.  Ask them what they think are some problems
	in     trying to count whale populations. (The whales move around; you
	can't tell if you've counted them before or not; they live in areas we
	can't always watch; you can't always identify what you see...etc.). Ham it
	up! After 1st sighting, tell them that it's time for bed. Kids will
	sleep and snore, etc. Next day, they are back on the ocean. There are 	white caps, lots of wind, etc. The sightings take place on four
 	consecutive days.
7.   Ask students to predict the total population for each species based on their
8.   Have students record their thinking.
9.   Share the students' findings.
10.  Show them the actual population.
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER: You can extend this activity to other populations -
especially populations relevant to your area, like Bald Eagles in SE Alaska,
moose in interior Alaska, elk in Oregon, etc.
The students will realize that their predictions are way off - even if they tried
to make "educated guesses", and this is much the same frustration as a real
oceanographer experiences.
Worksheet Name of Researcher
Observation window = 1/4 of area (include a sketch of box)
The largest whales are blue whales, the next largest are humpback whales, and
the smallest are killer whales.
Key  draw large lima bean and label blue whale  draw pinto and label
humpback whale  draw lentil and label killer whale sightings    date   blue
 killer   humpback    1st sighting 2nd sighting third sighting fourth sighting
Predict total population for each species of whales based on your observations
(sightings) blue______    killer________    humpback________ Explain your
thinking (justify your conclusions)