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WELCOME, TEACHERS!

The Alaska SeaLife Center and COSEE-Alaska are excited to present "Southern Exposure", a virtual field trip (VFT) to one of the most remote regions on Earth. Join Dr. Jo-Ann Mellish and her team as they travel to Antarctica's McMurdo Sound to investigate how changing sea ice conditions may impact ice-dependent polar seals, like Antarctica's Weddell seals.

GRADE LEVEL: 5th-8th

TIME NEEDED: Between one and four 1-hour class periods (teachers may choose to use all or part of the supplementary lessons)

NUTSHELL: Students will learn about animal physiology while exploring how changing sea ice conditions may affect ice-dependent Weddell seals.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

After completing this virtual field trip, students will be able to:

- Highlight two ways that habitat conditions in the Arctic and the Antarctic are different

- Define the term energy budget and explain how living things earn (gain) and use energy to meet the requirements of life

- Describe the relationship between the depth of a seal's blubber and the animal's mass

BACKGROUND:

VIDEO: RESEARCH PROJECT PROMO

Use this short research promo video to get your class excited about Southern Exposure. (0:56)

In this virtual field trip, students will meet Drs. Jo-Ann Mellish, Markus Horning, and Allyson Hindle - a team of animal physiologists collaborating on a project about Antarctica's Weddell seals. Your students will follow Dr. Mellish's research team into the field as they work to answer the questions "What is the 'cost of living' for a polar seal?" and "How will the lives of these seals be impacted as their habitats continue to change?"

This VFT can be used in a number of ways. Individuals may navigate through the pages on their own. Self-guided exploration can be completed in about an hour. Alternately, teachers may facilitate a structured experience, working through each page of the VFT together as a class. Lesson plans (included in the right-hand column of this page) are available to supplement online content.

For a thorough introduction to Weddell seals, we recommend that teachers check out the PolarTrec webinar The Life Science of Weddell Seals with Dr. Jennifer Burns of the University of Alaska Anchorage. Though not affiliated with this project, Dr. Burns' presentation gives teachers a nice overview of current behavioral and physiological research on Weddell seals in Antarctica (40 minutes).

TO USE THIS VIRTUAL FIELD TRIP YOU WILL NEED:

- Internet access, video-streaming capabilities
- Access to Southern Exposure
- Projection system (with audio) to display content or a computer lab (with headphones)
- Corresponding lesson plans (arranged as PDFs in the right-hand column of this page)

UNABLE TO RUN THE STREAMING VERSION? REQUEST A FREE COPY OF ALL MATERIALS ON CD BY EMAILING: education@alaskasealife.org

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Weddell seal specific Resources :

Weddell Seal Science Project, YouTube Channel

ARKive Weddell Seal Species Profile

General information about Sea Ice:

National Snow and Ice Data Center: Sea Ice Introduction

National Snow and Ice Data Center: Arctic Vs. Antarctic

NASA Earth Observatory: Sea Ice

International Polar Year: Sea Ice Fact Sheet

Education Resources Related to Climate Change:

NOAA Education Resources: Climate Change Impacts

 

Contact Us:

If you have any questions about this virtual field trip, please contact the Alaska SeaLife Center Education Department at education@alaskasealife.org or 907-224-6306. For more information on classes we offer, including our inquiry-based Distance Learning programs, visit our website at www.alaskasealife.org.

  Go to Introduction page

LESSON PLANS

Use the .pdf links below to access classroom activities for each section of the virtual field trip.

Antarctic map
survey
All research was conducted under National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Protection Act authorization 15748 and Antarctic Conservation Act permit 2012-003.