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Illawarra Environmental Education Centre

Illawarra Environmental Education Centre

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Investigating science

The future of Kiama’s rocky intertidal ecosystem  

Year 11 Investigating science,  depth study



Kiama Black Beach rock platform

Inquiry and focus questions

Module Inquiry Question: What inferences can be drawn from observations?

Depth Study Inquiry Question:  How will ocean temperature, water level and acidity rises change the rocky intertidal ecosystem?

Program overview

After researching rock platform organisms in relation to their adaptations and interspecies interactions, students conduct a rock platform investigation in which they use observations and inferences to develop an hypothesis and carry out a field test.  

After processing and analysing both primary and secondary data and information, students design an ongoing rock platform investigation that addresses an aspect of  the depth study inquiry question - How will ocean temperature, water level and acidity rises change the rocky intertidal ecosystem?

Groups then present their investigation methodology to the class (suggested depth study assessment).

Learning Experiences

Qualitative assessment of distribution and abundance on the rock platform (by zones)

Before conducting the observational field survey students familiarise yourself with the zonation pattern on the rock platform, identifying zones and microhabitats and making inferences to decide the indicator species for each zone.

Interactions between species

Students use their knowledge of the  five main observable interactions seen on the rocky shore (predation, parasitism, competition, mutualism and commensalism) to find examples and describe the species involved.

Fieldwork techniques

Students are instructed on appropriate field techniques such as quadrats and transects in relation to their relevance in collecting data.  

Hypothesis development

In groups, use inferences from qualitative observations to develop an hypothesis. Discuss use of variables and verify methodology.

Conducting an investigation

In groups, students conduct an investigation based on their developed hypothesis using available equipment and methodology.   Students are guided through a discussion on thier thier results and how an organism’s niche is determined by adaptations and species interactions.

Inquiry question address

Students in groups  design an investigation that aims to help with mitigating the impacts of climate change in the future. Ie develop aims and methodology for a further inquiry.  This design forms the basis of the suggested depth study assessment.

Supporting resources 

·       Student Fieldwork sheets  (IEEC will provide on the day)

·       Student Depth Study booklet

·       Teachers Guide to student depth study booklet

·       Outline of Depth Study hours

·       Sampling techniques powerpoint

Key syllabus outcomes

Yr 11 - Investigating Science 

Module 2-  Cause and effect: observations and inferences 

A student:

  • INS11/12-1 develops and evaluates questions and hypotheses for scientific investigation
  • INS11/12-2 designs and evaluates investigations in order to obtain primary and secondary data and information
  • INS11/12-4 selects and processes appropriate qualitative and quantitative data and information using a range of appropriate media
  • INS11-9 examines the use of inferences and generalisations in scientific investigation