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Grade One Scientists Explore the Great Barrier Reef!
Abbe Roth

Grade One students immersed themselves in the study of the Great Barrier Reef and the marine world! This inquiry-based unit teaches students how to ask good questions, how to do research about the world around them, and how to use their voices to make the world a better place.

Connecting to the Grade One theme of Tikun Olam, repairing the world, students learned the importance of taking care of our world through song, research, and prayers for our oceans and the beauty of nature. They were introduced to the geographical setting and the marine life that inhabits the reef, and they used their knowledge to build their own Great Barrier Reef in the classroom. The students applied for a job in an underwater sea lab, played the role of scientists studying various parts of the marine world, and then prepared to present their research to others both orally and through the written word. Students also created artistic representations of objects and life found underwater, both with their General Studies teachers and with their Art teachers.

Throughout the unit, the Grade One students transformed their classrooms into a coral reef. They were able to live, learn and play underwater! Students also went on a field trip to the Shedd Aquarium to observe real marine life up close. As the students learned about the beauty and importance of the reef, they were also confronted with a real-life problem—How can we help save the Coral Reef from destruction, specifically from oil spills? The students came up with solutions as a group and presented their findings at a student-led "Conference on the World's Oceans" for their parents and friends. Using science, social studies, and language arts skills, the students were given a personal glimpse into the wondrous nature of the world’s oceans.