Ocean Bully

Type Category
Instructional Materials
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Animation/Movie
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



The lesson includes a 7 minute video to engage students in the concern that scientists have about how release of invasive Lionfish have created a shift in the oceanic ecosystems of the Caribbean and the Florida Coast. The lesson includes ideas for the teacher to use in order to engage the students in researching other species and arguing from evidence about the impact that an invasive species can have on an ecosystem. In order to get students engaged in the problem, the teachers should provide a situation for them to consider such as: You are moving and cannot take your pet fish with you. No one is willing to adopt your fish. You are considering releasing it into the local pond. Is this a good idea? What could happen to your fish? Are the other species in the pond in danger?

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 6
  • Middle School
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on recognizing patterns in data and making warranted inferences about changes in populations, and on evaluating empirical evidence supporting arguments about changes to ecosystems.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
If the teacher uses the prompt ideas supplied, they can use this case to scaffold students to developing their own research question regarding a local species that is invasive. The teacher could lead the students to research on their local species or another species that is mentioned in the teacher guide. The teacher could hold the town meeting as mentioned or engage the students in actual communication with the local press or politicians to make it link to the real world in order for the students use evidence to support their argument in a real venue.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The teacher might need to find additional sites for data on species that students might choose to research but are not on the list. Students should be encouraged to take the research a step further if they have questions that cannot be addressed at the included sites.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Use of the Claims-Evidence-Reasoning framework is highly recommended. This framework will help students write a strong statement explaining what they think and why they think it, while including evidence from sources and linking this evidence to their claim.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
This resource addresses disruptions in biological components, such as the elimination of other species in coral reefs due to the lionfish’s extreme appetite and very rapid reproduction rate. The resource does not address any physical components. An additional lesson in a change in water resources, terrain, etc could cover that part of the DCI.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Make sure to include prompts that point out how the addition of one species can impact many others.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This resource allows students to gather information from reliable sources in order to develop an understanding of this ecological problem. Students can use multiple sources to develop their ideas and then work on communicating their findings with classmates or publicly.

  • Instructional Supports: The links provided are to reliable sources and include many details. One issue with some students may be the reading level of the resources might be difficult. If there are struggling readers in the class, the teacher may pair students for the work so a stronger student could help with the challenging reading. There are also many other resources on the species that are mentioned as well as other invasive species. This could also lead to independent reports on a variety of species if the students are ready.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: There are no built-in progress checks, but with multiple opportunities to get students to develop ideas, teachers can use each as a stopping point for some formative assessment. Teachers could also include strategies like exit tickets to get a quick snapshot of student understanding.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -