Scholastic’s “New Zealand Dolphins” activity (grades 4–8), part of the “Ocean Life” project, takes students to New Zealand’s Kaikoura Peninsula, where researchers study the behavior of dusky dolphins, especially around tourist boats. Through on-the-scene field reports, photographs, and interviews with experts, students discover how Earthwatch teams observe and collect information on the behaviors of these social mammals, and the impact human activities have on them.
- First, students read about the highly social, acrobatic “dusky” dolphins of New Zealand’s Kaikoura Peninsula, and how and why Earthwatch Institute team members study them.
- Detailed field reports share how the experts monitor environmental conditions, track dolphins, study other animals of the area, and more.
- Students then Meet an Explorer, Judy Evans, who teaches science and environmental studies at a local New Zealand school.
- Students can also Be an Explorer of ocean life by observing water systems close to home. Students must explore a location near them, gather information about it, observe it while taking notes, conduct research on it, and then share their experiences in a report, poster, or other project.
- Lastly, the Dolphin Observatory activity challenges students to document their observations on four dolphin behaviors after viewing them with photos and video.
While participating in the New Zealand Dolphin activity, students will:
- Understand the importance of ocean life and the ocean environment
- Read online texts from the Field Reports to build comprehension of the nature of scientific inquiry
- Demonstrate an understanding of behavior and adaptations of organisms
- Interact with online technology to view, describe, and discuss different dolphin behaviors
- Investigate a local water ecosystem by making observations and collecting samples
- Use a variety of technological and informative resources to conduct research and analyze data about the sea turtles and dolphins
- Research ocean life and report on findings