Cownose Ray

©Ed Schipul


Go on a virtual expedition to the Philippines, just as Academy scientists do.  Learn to make observations and ask questions like a scientist while watching a live stream of our sharks and rays lagoon.

This program integrates the Next Generation Science Standards by focusing on:

  • Crosscutting Concept: Structure and function
  • Science and Engineering Practice: Planning and carrying out investigations
Reserve a session at a time that works for your schedule!

Date: Thursdays, September - January 2018
Duration: 45 - 60 minutes
Target Audience: 3rd-8th graders in schools, libraries, homeschool groups, and more
Price: $70 per session; discounts available for Title I schools and bulk purchases of 5+ programs
Group Size: 8-65 students per session
Multilingual support: English, Spanish, Cantonese, and Mandarin

Organizer Prep
Program Summary
bat rays

The Sharks, Rays, and their Lagoons program will begin with students traveling on a virtual expedition into a habitat to explore the secret lives of sharks and rays—the Philippine Mangrove Lagoon.

The Mangrove Lagoon exhibit at the Academy replicates the lagoons in the Philippines. Using our live underwater video cameras, students identify the animals they see swimming in the lagoon. Then they practice making detailed observations just like a marine biologist.

Once students have observations they will learn how to turn them into scientific questions. Students will then pick one of their questions that allows them to design and carry out a 5-minute investigation using the underwater video cameras. During this investigation students observe, collect evidence, analyze and explain their results.

Finally we will discuss why the lagoons are an important habitat, not just for the sharks and rays that call it home!

Next Generation Science Standards

Science and Engineering Practices:

Asking Questions and Defining Problems

  • (3-5) Ask questions that can be investigated and predict reasonable outcomes based on patterns such as cause and effect relationships.
  • (Middle School) Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the classroom, outdoor environment, and museums and other public facilities with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on observations and scientific principles.

Planning and Carrying out Investigations

  • (3-5) Make observations and/or measurements to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence for an explanation of a phenomenon or test a design solution.

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

  • (3-5) Use evidence (e.g. measurements, observations, patterns) to construct or support an explanation or design a solution to a problem.
  • (Middle School) Apply scientific ideas, principles, and/or evidence to construct, revise and/or use an explanation for real world phenomena, examples or events.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • 3-LS3.B The environment also affects the traits that an organism develops.
  • 4-LS1.A  Plants and animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions in growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction.
  • MS-LS4.A Anatomical similarities and differences between various organisms living today and between them and organisms in the fossil record, enable the reconstruction of evolutionary history and the inference of lines of evolutionary descent.
  • MS-LS4.B Natural selection leads to the predominance of certain traits in a population, and the suppression of others).

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns: Can be used to identify cause and effect relationships.
  • Structure and function: Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the shapes, composition, and relationships among its parts; therefore, complex natural and designed structures/ systems can be analyzed to determine how they function.
  • Cause and Effect: Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural and designed systems.

Related Performance Expectation:

This Virtual Program is just one step toward reaching the Performance Expectation listed below. Addition supporting materials/lessons/activities will be required.

4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

MS-LS1-4. Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.

MS-LS2-2. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems.

MS-LS4-2. Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on explanations of the evolutionary relationships among organisms in terms of similarity or differences of the gross appearance of anatomical structures.]

MS-LS4-4. Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using simple probability statements and proportional reasoning to construct explanations.]

California State Science Standards

Grade 4

Life Sciences

3. Living organisms depend on one another and on their environment for survival. As a basis for understanding this concept:

a. Students know ecosystems can be characterized by their living and nonliving components.

b. Students know that in any particular environment, some kinds of plants and animals survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

Grade 6

Ecology (Life Science)

5c.Students know populations of organisms can be categorized by the functions they serve in an ecosystem.

5e. Students know the number and types of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources available and on abiotic factors, such as quantities of light and water, a range of temperatures, and soil composition

Grade 7


3. Biological evolution accounts for the diversity of species developed through gradual processes over many generations. As a basis for understanding this concept:

a. Students know both genetic variation and environmental factors are causes of evolution and diversity of organisms.

e. Students know that extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient for its survival.

Not interested in sharks and rays? Discover more one-on-one Virtual Programs or check out the free webcasts in our Special Live Events series.

Grades: 3rd Grade - 8th Grade
Program Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $70.00