Design-a-Shark by fdh56iuoui


                                                             Grades 4-8
                                                        Class Activity

Sharks come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. These special features help
shark’s survive (adapt) in their unique ocean habitats. Program participants will use
various body features and Habitat Helpful Hints to guide the ‘building’ of their own
shark to survive in a chosen habitat.

Key Concepts
    • Sharks live in a variety of ocean habitats
    • A shark’s body shape, fin size and placement, coloration, and mouth are features
        that help it survive in a specific habitat.
    • Observing and studying a shark’s features can help you figure out what ocean
        habitat it lives in.
Vocabulary- Adapt appropriately for different ages. See fin definitions on Fins for Survival
Adapt/ation- A feature on the body, in the body or a behavior an animal does
Anal Fin
Depressed- A body shape, flattened top to bottom
Dorsal Fin
Fusiform- A body shape, football shaped and hydrodynamic
Habitat- Where an animal finds food, shelter, and space. Where it makes its home.
Pectoral Fin
Tail Fin (Caudal Fin)

Classroom- Table for each station or divide students into groups (4-5 students) with
station materials for each group.
Public- Near Shark Reef Exhibit. 3 tables with tablecloths; 2 tables for habitat, body and
fin stations, 1 table for coloration and mouth station (this station is optional).

Tables (see set-up)
2 Tubs (lrg. shoe box). One each for shark bodies and fins
Ocean Habitat Cards- 2 of each
Crayons or Markers
Blank Paper (white or newsprint), 8x11 or 8x5.5
Shark Bodies- 2 of each (Nerf, full size or small)
Shark Fins (plastic or hard laminated card stock)- 2 of each (or 4 for pectoral and anal
      Large, triangular Dorsal
      Small, rounded Dorsal
      Large, triangular Pectoral
      Small, rounded Pectoral
      Large, pointed, V-shape tail
      Large, rounded, V-shape tail
      Small, rounded, V-shape tail

Invite participation by exciting the student’s curiosity about sharks. Ask students if they
would like to build a shark, become a shark expert, or discover how sharks survive in a
variety of habitats. You can do an “into” session with KWL charting of sharks.
       What do know about sharks
       What would we like to know about sharks
       What did we learn about sharks

Sharks live in nearly all ocean habitats. They have special features or body
shapes/sizes/designs that help them adapt (or survive) in their unique habitats.
Today we are going to build or design a shark to live in your chosen ocean habitat.

Habitat Selection
Have students select an ocean habitat card from the available images. Ask them to share
with their group or neighbor why they chose that habitat and what makes it unique or
Next, have students turn over their habitat card to discover a few special features about
their chosen habitat.

Habitat Images                            Helpful Hints
       Open Ocean                         No place to hide, Uniform in color, Sunlight,
                                          Shallow or deep, Cold water

       Coral Reef                         Sunlight, Places to hide, Colorful, Shallow,
                                          Possible wave action, Warm water, Sand or
                                          rocky bottom

       Bay or Estuary                     Sunlight, Places to hide, Can be uniform in
                                          color, Shallow, Warm or cold water, Sea
                                         grass/mangroves, Mud or sandy bottom, salt
                                         and fresh water (estuary)

      Kelp Forest                        Sunlight, Kelp, Rocky bottom, Cold water,
                                         Colorful, Places to hide, Wave action

      Deep Ocean                         No sunlight, Deep, Cold water, No place to
                                         hide, Uniform in color

Body Shape Station
Now that the students know a bit more about their chosen habitat, they are ready to
start building a shark to live there. Have them select one basic body shape to start with
(groups can build a shark together, in teams of two or on their own:
Torpedo (Fusiform) Shaped- Football,
Rod Shaped- Arrow/Tube, or
Flat (Depressed) Shaped- Frisbee.

Ask students why they selected that particular shape. Share with team or neighbor.
      How would that body shape help their shark survive in their habitat?
             Why would the other body shapes not be as helpful?

Fin Station
Fins are an important feature for all sharks. Have the students review the Fins for
Survival sheet. The sheet describes how each fin can help a shark survive. Remind the
student that not all fins are important for survival, but all sharks have at least one
Dorsal Fin, Tail Fin, and two Pectoral Fins. The other fins, Anal Fins and/or additional
Dorsal Fins, are optional for their shark.

Coloration Station (See modifications for Public Audiences)
After putting the fins on their shark the students need to design the overall coloration
and/or pattern for their shark. Remind them to think about their habitat and the basic
strategy for survival, To Eat, and Not be Eaten!
Students will draw their shark, based on their 3-D model, on the blank side of their
Scientific Discovery Sheet.
Tell students to leave a blank spot where the mouth should be. That is the next station
and they need room to draw it on later.
They will use crayons or markers to design their shark’s coloration or pattern.
You can use images of other fish to inspire ideas, if needed.

Mouth and Teeth Station (See modifications for Public Audiences)
The final step of designing their shark will be identifying what kind of mouth and teeth
their shark needs. Students can choose whatever food they would like, as long as it is
within reason (no small sharks eating whales whole!) and their mouth and teeth are
designed for eating that particular food.
       Have student think about other animals they are familiar with and the food they
              What kind of food does a tiger eat? What do its mouth and teeth look like?
              What kind of food does a cow eat? What do its mouth and teeth look like?
Students can draw their mouth and teeth onto their shark’s body.
Their creation is nearly complete!

Now that they have designed their very own unique shark, they must document their
scientific findings and share it with others.
Tell them to flip over their Scientific Discovery Sheet. It asks important questions about
where their shark was “found” (habitat), what it eats (diet), what it looks like (size,
shape and color) and what it is called (scientific and/or common name). As the
“discovering” scientist of their shark, they get to name their shark. You can explain that
scientists often name discoveries based on how they look, where they were found, or
who found them. Provide a few examples of scientific names and common names so
students can understand the importance of naming their discovery, why they use a
universal language, and why common names are not solely used when sharing
information in a scientific format.
The last step is to share their discovery with other shark and ocean “scientists”. This can
be their team, class and/or family.
Now the students can use their new understanding of body features to learn more
about the sharks in the ocean (or aquarium) and how they survive in their own special

Modifications for Public Activity:
Due to variations of group dynamics with public audiences, lead participants through
stations as a group. Select the habitat and then the body and fins based on participant’s
most popular choice. Discuss the benefits/challenges with the selected and non-selected
features. Help guide group toward best adaptive feature, if applicable, without
controlling the exploration process.
Participants can then select coloration and mouth features as a group, or individually, at
a separate table. The 3-D model can be ‘recycled’ for other participants. Supply images
of various shark color and patterns, along with crayons and markers. Also make
available images of shark mouths and jaws. Use models of shark jaws and teeth, if
available. Be sure to supervise any tactile exploration of the jaws.
If the coloration/mouth station is not provided/set-up, encourage participants to
explore the sharks in the aquarium to observe color and mouth shape. Challenge the
participants to create new sharks, in their head or at home, based on the habitats they
visit/ed in the aquarium.
                                  Scientific Discovery Sheet

Scientist’s Name:________________________________

Scientific or Common Name:__________________________________________________

Size and Color:________________________________________________________________




                                    Scientific Discovery Sheet

Scientist’s Name:________________________________

Scientific or Common Name:____________________________________________________

Size and Color:________________________________________________________________



Unique Features:______________________________________________________________
                             Design A Shark: Fins for Survival

                                     Doral Fin(s)
                                      Balance and

  Tail (Caudal) Fin
     Power and

                       Anal Fin(s)
                      Balance and

                                                    Pectoral Fin
Swell Shark
Cephaloscyllium ventriosum                          Balance and

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