Ocean Exhibits

Activity Overview: 

In this project, students create an ocean museum in their classroom. They work with a partner to create an exhibit, which should contain an interactive computer "placard" of information. Each exhibit must also have a hands-on component. To experience the finished museum, grade school students are invited to participate and learn as the high school students share their exhibits as well as their knowledge about oceans.


  • Students will be able to design a hands-on scientific demonstration.

  • Students will be able to research using a variety of technological resources.  

  • Students will be able to assimilate information into a useful form.

  • Students will be able to use technology to create a museum placard. 

  • Students will be able to teach their topic to grade school students.

In this project, students create an ocean museum. They work in partners to create their own exhibit. Each exhibit must have an interactive computer placard containing their information. The exhibits must also have a hands-on component. Grade school students come to participate in the museum as the high school students present their information.

(Note: This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the following activities/standards will appear in the video clips used.)


Curriculum Standards from http://www.intime.uni.edu/model/content/cont.html

National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Performance Indicators from http://cnets.iste.org/profiles.htm

Group students into pairs.  Give a brief overview of the assignment and grading criteria. Allow students to choose an ocean topic from the list provided.

Science  Grades 9-12: A2, E1



Instruct students to create ten learning objectives for the grade school students who will be visiting the museum. 

Science  Grades 9-12:  A1, E2



During the process of selecting objectives, students access a variety of research information using encyclopedias (both electronic and traditional), CD-ROMs, the Internet, books, and videos.

Science Grades 9-12: A1, B2-B6, C4, C5, C6, D1, D2, F1

Grades 9-12: 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


Once 10 objectives have been established and clearly understood, students develop their museum exhibits, keeping in mind that it must address the needs of the auditory, visual, and tactile learner.

Science Grades 9-12:  A2, E1



Students engineer the hands-on component of the exhibit.  Students may access lab and demonstration resources, but also may design their own experiments.

Science Grades 9-12:  A1, A2, E1, E2

Grades 9-12: 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10

Using HyperStudio, PowerPoint, or another application that students are familiar with, students create an electronic placard that reinforces the learning objectives created earlier. Some students might choose to create an interactive learning game, while others may just present the information in an interesting way.

Science Grades 9-12:  A1, A2, E1, E2                

Grades 9-12: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Set aside at least one day for students to practice their exhibits while their peers critique them and offer suggestions. This gives students a chance to learn about other exhibits and refine their presentation.

Science Grades 9-12:  E2

Grades 9-12: 8, 10

Contact elementary classrooms early in the project to schedule their visit to the museum.  Have high school students direct elementary students to exhibits and help present information and explain procedure for hands-on component of exhibit. For efficiency, elementary students can be divided into small groups and rotate around the room every ten  minutes.  This gives high school more repetition and experience teaching their information.

Science Grades 9-12:  E2

Grades 9-12: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10


After the project is complete, students write a personal reflection about what they have learned about oceans, teaching, and themselves through this project.

Science Standards Grades 9-12:  A1, E2, F1




HyperStudio. HyperStudio. Available: http://www.hyperstudio.com
PowerPoint. Microsoft.Available: http://www.microsoft.com

Access to Computers:
We used our library, which has 14 computers with 2 students on each computer.

The Following Handouts:

Ocean Exhibits Are Us

Oceans Are Us

Students were assessed using the grade sheet that is included above. They also received feedback from each other before the grade school students participated. They presented to each other and used the following critique sheet. Also, included is a writing assessment, which students used to evaluate the project afterwards.

Critique for Ocean Exhibits

Personal Reflection on Ocean Exhibits

1.What did you learn about Oceans that you did not already know?

2.What did you learn about teaching through this project?

3.What did you learn about yourself through this project?

4.What would you do differently if you could do it all over again?

5.What could your teacher do to improve this project?       

Sharon Texley, Media specialist, Smoky Valley High, Lindsborg, KS
Julie McLaughlin, Science teacher, Smoky Valley High, Lindsborg, KS

This activity takes about 3 weeks.

1 day to select topics and begin writing question
2-3 days for research
3-4 days for making computer placard
1-2 days to assemble hands-on components and do peer critiques
1-2 days for grade school students to visit museum
1-2 days for writing assessment

This same unit was taught last year and it took approximately the same amount of time. Using this project, the content was not covered as in-depth, but students learned a greater variety of skills in the ocean exhibits.

This is the first year for teaching this learning activity in this way. I did a similar project using Hyperstudio a few years ago. Some of the great ah ha's have been watching students who are not normally motivated in class seemingly come alive when it comes time to work on the computers. It is also really fun watching the high school students interact with the elementary students. The older students always seem to have this special sense of confidence around the younger ones. Some students who would never be comfortable speaking in front of their peers, actually shine in front of younger students. Although you might not expect it, high school love receiving thank you from the elementary classes.

Teaching  Resources:
The reason that I chose this application was mainly, because most students were already familiar with the application so it would limit the amount of time in class I would spend on teaching a new program. Also, it is an application that a first-time user can pick up on rather quickly.  Someone who is familiar with it already can use it in more advanced ways.

School Background Information:

  • Lindsborg is a town of 3,500 people which actively preserves its Swedish heritage. Many adults are employed in local industries including farm and landscape equipment, batteries, and fluorescent lamps manufactures. 

  • Smoky Valley High School has about 360 students. Around 97% of the students are White, 1% are African American, 1% are Asian, and 1% are Hispanic. 

Teaching Strategy:
I chose this teaching strategy because it was a change of pace for my students. I like to use a variety of teaching methods so students pick up different skills along the way. I feel that students need to familiarize themselves with more and more technology to be well prepared for graduation.

Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model Components Highlighted in This Activity
(Note: This is a unit plan that may cover several days to several weeks. Not all of the elements from the Technology as Facilitator of Quality Education Model that are described below will appear in the video clips used.)

I think that this video shows Active Involvement as you watch the students become the teachers. Because they are creating an exhibit that will be displayed in front of elementary students, this creates a Compelling Situation. Students want to look good in front of younger children so they are motivated to put together a fun and creative exhibit.

Students must process information when choosing a topic, constructing their own objectives, picking out the most important information to teach, and communicating that information in a way that the children will enjoy. Students get Frequent Feedbackthrough their peer evaluations, children's responses, and group discussion afterwards.

Students learn about Democracy as they work with their partners to put together their exhibits. They learn Tolerance when the grade school students don't do exactly what they want when they are teaching them.

Student Characteristics:
I teach mostly freshman, so classroom management was a consideration. Having access to the library made this job a little easier because all of the resource materials and technology were all located in one central area, allowing me to monitor student behavior a little better. I also feel that students have more freedom in an assignment like this so they are free to choose topics and tools that they enjoy using.

How the Activity Has Evolved Over Time:
This activity originally evolved out of a project I did a few years ago where students designed zoo exhibits. One part of that assignment was to use HyperStudio to make a placard. This shows the versatility of this kind of project. It can be adapted to almost any content area by simply changing the name of the museum.

(Learning activity format adapted from National Educational Technology Standards for Students Connecting Curriculum & Technology http://cnets.iste.org/students)