Climate Change and our Sealife Topic

As we continue our Sealife topic we have been exploring the conservation of sea turtles and subsequently climate change. We learned how rising sea levels have a direct impact on sea turtle nesting sites. I just wanted to outline some of the great resources we used in our classes this afternoon.

acidic oceans

The main part of the afternoon was working on an science experiment that replicated the effect of acidic oceans on the coral reefs. This has been ideal for the work we have been doing recently. Whilst I was exploring the resources on the Under the Sea IMAX film I found some nicely produced resources for classrooms. Amongst it is the experiment we did.

We placed shells and chalk  in cups filled with varying levels of water and vinegar – each representing “Clean”, “Polluted” and “Very Polluted” seawater. We used some digital scales to weigh the shells and chalk before putting them in. The children enjoyed seeing the immediate reaction in the more “polluted” test and jotted down some observations. We were going to retrieve the solids today and check them, but I asked the class if they would like to leave it a full 24 hours – they agreed, so we will have to wait until tomorrow to see the full effect.


After setting up the experiment and completing some initial observations we invited the children to explore the Zerofootprint website. It provides a very child friendly survey (well written and very accessible to different reading abilities) about different aspects of life:

  • Transportation
  • What you eat
  • Home and School
  • What you throw away
  • What you use

The results are then collated and the children are able to compare their own data with averages from countries around the world. We spent some time discussing some of the averages and talking through as a class the differences we found. It is a good way to compare personal and average national data.

Breathing Earth

To draw the afternoon to a close and provide another discussion point, I showed the children Breathing Earth which is a CO2 emissions, birth rate and death rate simulation. It is a strangely engaging animation and simulation of real data on a world map. We looked closely at the indication of CO2 emissions and identified the major culprits around the world. (As I explained what was shown I had some dramatic music on in the background which added to the impact of the simulation.)

I spent time drawing it back to the experiment we were doing – higher CO2 emissions means more polluted oceans, means more acidic effects on coral and sealife.

As a class we discussed how these levels might be linked with population and other factors. Breathing Earth provides a rich and engaging starting point for discussion that I would highly recommend. As you roll over a country on the world map more detailed data is shown for that nation. I think that Breathing Earth could prove a useful data resource in it’s own right – children retrieving information by finding the country and then rolling over. Better then looking at a list or on a basic webpage.


After the children had some time to work in pairs at their laptops exploring the Breathing Earth simulation we closed out the day with a film from WWF called “Knock-On Effects“.

A lovely animation that helps to remind us about the difference we can make if we all act. I love the domino metaphor and how if we all act and put up our dominoes we can gain great momentum and change some of the damage already done. We finished the day talking about what the class could do at home tonight to make a difference and what they thought of the animation.

I think that some of these resources have really helped us to show the children the connections. And to see, for example, that switching off that light at home could effect a sea turtle finding a nest. In a positive way. One domino at a time.

1 Comment

  1. Think what you are doing is inspirational, i’m learning lots from your reflections.

    Looking forward to your next theme after Sealife 🙂

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