Classroom Activities

Photo taken under NOAA permit

Example Activities

Our program includes several activities for students. The exact activities used depends on available time, age/grade, and group dynamic. All activities support the Early Learning Reporting System.

Fish and Chips

What are they eating and where is it coming from? 

(50mins/3rd-6th grade. In-person and on-line) 

In this hands-on activity, students play the role of scientist who collects and analyzes fish scales left over from predation events.  Using this data, participants are able to chart and record not only the types of fish the whales are eating, but when they are eating them and where those fish are spawning from!  Follow up discussion tackles the necessity of protecting the spawning streams of the regions salmon.

This activity is designed to meet the NGSS for WA State.  A list of these is available upon request

Supports the following EALRs:
Communication: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.5, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3
Geography/Social Studies: 2.2, 3.1, 3.2
Mathematics: 1.1, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3
Reading: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 3.2
Science: 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 3.2

Fish and Chips 2

What are they eating and where is it coming from-The sequel! 

(50mins/3rd-6th grade. In-person and on-line) 

In this follow up to the original hands-on activity, students play the role of scientist who collects and analyzes fish scales left over from predation events during the Pacific NW winter months.   

Using data collected by Dr. Brad Hanson and our colleagues at Northwest Fisheries Science Center/NOAA, we will explore the prey items these whales are eating. Utilizing scientific method/scientific inquiry we will attempt to answer the critical question: what are they eating and where is it coming from? We will test each students’ hypotheses using actual data (yes, that includes poop sample data!) from Dr. Hanson’s groundbreaking work!  

This activity is designed to meet the NGSS for WA State.  A list of these is available upon request.

Identification of individual killer whales and mapping of critical habitat

Using photographs collected the previous summer by ourselves and our research partners, The Center for Whale Research, students will learn to identify individual whales.  Students will then have the chance to map the locations where the whales were photographed and recording the whales’ use of the Puget Sound habitat.

Supports the following EALRs:
Communication: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3
Geography/Social Studies: 1.1, 2.3
Reading: 1.2, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2
Science: 1.1, 1.2, 2.2, 3.2
Writing: 1.3
Math: 1.2,1.4, 3.1, 5.2, 5.3

The Secret Lives of Killer Whales

Using Dtags to track the underwater behavior of endangered killer whales

(50mins/3rd-6th grade. In-person and on-line) 

What do the endangered Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) do under water?  Are they hunting? Sleeping? Travelling?  Is their behavior different at night?  How deep do they dive?  How long can they stay underwater? Using data collected by Dr. Marla Holt and the researchers at Northwest Fisheries Science Center/NOAA, we will use scientific method, create our own hypothesis and test those using actual data collected from a tag stuck to the back of an actual SRKW!  

Download the data sheet, record actual data and the experience the world as the whale sees it and experiences it in this interactive activity. 

This activity is designed to meet the NGSS for WA State.  A list of these is available upon request. 

Drone On!

One of these things is not like the others…

(50mins/All ages. In-person and on-line) 

Are drones a good way to study the health and activities of our endangered Southern Resident killer whales? What can we learn about them using this aerial platform? Can we use this data to inform conservation of these endangered animals?  

Using data collected by Dr. Holly Fernbach and Dr. John Durban at SR3 (Sealife Response, Rehab and Research), we will explore these questions using scientific method/scientific inquiry.  We will test each students’ hypotheses using actual pictures collected from SR3’s groundbreaking work!  

This activity is designed to meet the NGSS for WA State.  A list of these is available upon request. 

Orca Acoustic Game Show

A Killer Whale Tales Science Activity

(30mins/All ages. In-person and on-line) 

What do you know about then endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales?  Join us for this game show style educational program and get a chance to earn some fabulous prizes!  (And learn about these amazing whales, too!)

This activity is designed to meet the NGSS for WA State.  A list of these is available upon request. 

Eco-tag: (90 minutes, 30-100 students)

Created in cooperation with Dr. David Bain from the University of Washington, “Eco-tag” examines the orca food chain and the effect toxins have upon it.  Students actively play the roles of herring, salmon, scientists and orcas in this recess-style game.  In the first round of play we encounter the cycle of life in its pristine form. In Round 2 we map and graph the amount of energy consumed, where it is going and how the balance is sustained.  Round 3 begins with a habitat-altering event – possibly a spill or a stream closure.  Who will survive and how?  What happens when we clean up an area, or if we lose a vital watershed?  Students will be challenged in this experiential activity to face the everyday concerns of the orcas themselves.  Recommended for older classrooms and in a gym sized space.

Supports the following EALRs:
Communication: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.5, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3
Geography/Social Studies: 2.2, 3.1, 3.2
Mathematics: 1.1, 1.4, 1.5, 2.1, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3
Reading: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 3.2
Science: 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 3.2

Killer Whale Communication and Be Whale Wise:

In this experiential hands-on activity, students experience what it is like to communicate through sound and only sound.  We then brainstorm ways to clean up the whales’ acoustic environment.  Students are then asked to formulate ways to protect the regions whales from the negative effects of human created noise.

Supports the following EALR’s:
Communication: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.4, 2.5, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3
Reading: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2
Science: 1.1, 1.2, 2.2
Writing: 1.3, 2.3, 4.3

Orca Behavior

In this popular activity we take a virtual field trip to the San Juan Islands.  There we use recently collected video to understand and interpret killer whale behavior and what it might mean.

Supports the following EALRs:
Communication: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.4, 2.5, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3
Geography: Social Studies: 3.1
Reading: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2
Science: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1
Writing: 1.3

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