Catalina Pimiento | Biology PhD Student | University of Florida
Rob Hoffman | Science Curriculum & NGSS Coach | Pajaro Valley Unified School District, Watsonville CA
Did megalodon – the largest shark that ever lived – need to protect their babies?
Students will predict, research, use and analyze data to draw conclusions about the habitat of Megalodon sharks. The important role the Gatun Formation, along the Panama Canal, has provided fossil evidence for scientist Catalina Pimiento and her research on Megalodon sharks.
Grade Level: Middle School (6-8)
- Engage/Prior Knowledge (30 min)
- Investigation (250 min. or 1 block period)
- Meet a Scientist Catalina Pimiento (30 min)
- Making Meaning Data Analysis Jigsaw (Part 1) (50 min)
- Scientist Research Documentary: Clash of the Americas (50 min) –OR– start in minute 33 (which is when Catalina’s section begins) to end if short on time (15 min)
- Science Evidence Jigsaw (Part 2) Explaining the Evidence (two 50 min. periods)
- Gallery Walk & Peer Feedback (30 min)
All times are approximate times and they will largely depend on each teacher and classroom size.
Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS)
MSLS22. Construct an explanation that predicts patterns of interactions among organisms across multiple ecosystems. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on predicting consistent patterns of interactions in different ecosystems in terms of the relationships among and between organisms and abiotic components of ecosystems. Examples of types of interactions could include competitive, predatory, and mutually beneficial.]
MSLS24. 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.]
Clash of the Americas (Free with advertisement):
Clash of the Americas (National Geographic Store $11.99 with no advertisement)
Prehistoric Predators: Monster Shark
Key to the Fossil Sharks of the Gatun Formation
Fossils of Panama Field Guide
Ancient Nursery Area for the Extinct Giant Shark Megalodon from the Miocene of Panama
Catalina Pimiento, Dana J. Ehret, Bruce J. MacFadden, Gordon Hubbell
New study of Panama shark, ray fossils shed light on ancient ocean connections
Fossil sharks: Learning from and about the past
Catalina Pimiento, Rose Pringle
- Did the largest predator sharks that ever lived need to protect their babies?
- How do scientists collect and use fossils as evidence?
- What important role did the Gatun Formation have in scientist Catalina Pimiento’s research on Megalodon sharks?
- Explain the conclusion Catalina Pimiento came to and the evidence she used to support it.
- Look for patterns in how organisms protect their babies and predict if an apex predator, like a Megalodon shark, would use a nursery to protect its babies.
- Collect and analyze data to support or reject your prediction about Megalodon shark’s using nurseries to protect their babies.
- Explain the story that the fossils, found in the Gatun formation, told about Megalodon sharks.
- Analyze graphed data and use that information to explain Catalina Pimiento’s research about Megalodon shark nurseries and how it supports her conclusions.
- All Warm-up responses/discussion
- Investigation analysis questions/discussion
- Big Picture Reflection Organizer
- Daily Exit Slips
- Explaining Evidence
- Summative Quiz
Step by step narrative guide to instruction
Did the largest shark that ever-lived need to protect their babies?
Have students just think about the above question
Ask students to: Write down observations about how the organisms in the video are protecting themselves. Handout 1: Engage Mother Baby Video Links
Ask students to: Think of 3 examples of how other species protect their own species or their offspring (babies).
Would you protect someone even it puts your life in danger?
Who would you risk your life for to protect?
Think-Pair-Share: give students time to think, share with a partner, then share with the class.
Have students to research how different species take care of and protect their young.
Use the resources provided as a starting place.
Ask students to make observations and identify patterns they notice about how babies are cared for and protected by different species.
Have students predict and answer the guiding question:
Did the largest shark that ever-lived need to protect their babies?
Explain how you came to your prediction.
How do scientists collect and use fossils as evidence?
Use the Investigation Data Tables Teeth sheet: Measuring and recording megalodon teeth data.
Exit Slip: Through the investigation, in what ways do scientists use fossils as evidence?
Meet a Scientist Catalina Pimiento
What are examples of evidence scientists can use?
Why do you think evidence is so important for a scientist’s research?
Pass out Catalina Pimiento’s info sheet and allow students to read together or independently.
Have an open discussion about their impression about who a scientist is.
Does Catalina “look” like a scientist?
In the investigation you went through some of the steps Catalina went through in her research about megalodon sharks.
We will now look more closely at the data she gathered and you will analyze it to determine what it tells us about Megalodon sharks.
Making Meaning Data Analysis Jigsaw
Use the link to access the Prezi presentation Gatun Formation and Megalodon. Show students pictures of Gatun before and while the Panama Canal locks were being built. The Prezi will also get students to think about what the connection is between the Gatun formation and Megalodon sharks.
What important role did the Gatun Formation have in scientist Catalina Pimiento’s research on Megalodon sharks?
As a lead scientist for a university, what would you want to study if you had unlimited money for research?
As a scientist, you will collect data.
The most important part is analyzing that data to figure out what it tells you about what you are researching
What does it mean to analyze something?
How do you analyze?
Today, you will be in groups looking at one data piece of evidence that Catalina Pimiento collected.
As a group you will study and analyze that data piece and complete the prompts in the Analyzing Evidence Organizer for your evidence piece only.
Handout: Data Analysis Jig Saw
Put students in groups of 5
Pass out to each group a different graphical data evidences (i.e.: everyone in group 1 gets Figure 5 – Megalodon Teeth Life Stage Comparison, everyone in group 2 gets Figure 6 – Megalodon Teeth Dig Site Comparison, etc.)
Depending on class size, there may be more than one group with each of the data evidences.
Allow time for student groups to complete the organizer for their evidence, encourage each student to share their observation.
Remind students that they are the experts for this piece of evidence and that later, they will need to explain their evidence to a group of peers.
Have students go home and explain their piece of evidence to a parent, sibling, or guardian and return with a question they asked and their response to the question (however, you will need to make additional copies to make this work).
What are three tips you would give someone if they were analyzing data for the first time?
Documentary Notes The Clash of the Americas
What important role did the Gatun Formation have in scientist Catalina Pimiento’s research on megalodon sharks?
What role does evidence play in a scientist’s research?
What do we know about the Gatun Formation and its connection to megalodon habitat?
Pass out Scientist Research Documentary Notes (2) sheet.
Watch the documentary The Clash of the Americas, with one of the featured scientists being Catalina Pimiento.
Have students focus and listen for how scientists use fossils as well as what important role the Gatun Formation played in Catalina’s research.
Extension or HW:
Big Picture Reflection Organizer
Use the organizer and student’s notes to have a discussion after watching the documentary.
Science Evidence Jigsaw & Poster (Part 2) – Explaining the Evidence
Have students go back to their original groups based on type of evidence.
Number each student from each group 15. All the 1’s will make a new group, all the 2 another group, etc. These groups will be larger (depending on the size of your class), and there might be more than one student that is representing the same data evidence. This is OK, as long as each of them shares something.
Their group may have made different observations.
Allow time for students to explain their piece of evidence and for their peers to record their explanation.
Once they explain their piece of evidence to their new group, they can tape or glue it to their poster and will need to write their explanation next to their data evidence.
Have each student use a different color marker and have them write their name with their color on the poster to assure everyone participates.
Allow time for groups to finish glue or tape their evidences and write their explanations.
Data & Graph Analysis students will be looking at graphical data and identifying patterns and inferring its meaning.
Summarize & expand students will analyze evidence and write a summary of what it is saying. They will also be writing their hypothesis, research notes from documentary and expanding on Catalina’s research.
Speaking and listening strategies
Explaining evidence used in research students will have an opportunity to explain the piece of evidence they are the “expert” on and explain it to peers and how it adds to Catalina’s research