Sea Star Wasting Syndrome: An Authentic Problem for Students

KCTS 9 in Seattle has an excellent overview of the sea star wasting syndrome that is currently destroying the sea star populations on the west coast of the United States. While the content is sad and disturbing, this case provides a very real and engaging problem for K-12 students to wrestle with.

The KCTS 9 post provides:

- A rich piece of complex informational text for students to read and understand. (Would be perfect for a close reading Common Core ELA lesson).

- Two short video clips that supplement the text and tell the story of the problem and how scientists are zooming in on the cause of the wasting syndrome.

How We Might Use This as Teachers:

  • Connect to science and engineering practices in NGSS
  • Highlight how scientists use evidence to construct claims
  • Draw attention to how authentic science and engineering works vs “The Scientific Method”
  • Highlight the connections between field studies and controlled experiments (How do both ways of “doing science” inform the work?)
  • Create an SBAC-like performance task with a piece of informational text, video, and a writing prompt
  • Engage students in Problem (or project) Based Learning where they learn about the ocean ecosystem and how to solve this (and related) problems

How might you use this information in your classroom?

Click HERE for the entire post.

One response to “Sea Star Wasting Syndrome: An Authentic Problem for Students

  1. I think this is a great opportunity to teach students about how scientists investigate diseases in plants and animals. Another good example would be the beehive collapse syndrome, which we now know is most likely due to pesticides and not a virus/bacteria. These real-world challenges are good examples of just how difficult it is to isolate and identify viruses, bacteria, or some other compound that is harming the animals. This also has a tie-in to global climate change as there seems to be a warm-water connection associated with increased sea-star wasting. Hopefully current populations will remain large enough to confer some resistance of the disease (or compound) into the next generation.

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