Partnerships for Reform through Investigative Science and Math - PRISM

Hawaiʻi's Ocean Grazers

A Hands-on Guide to Hawaiʻi’s Ocean Grazers

Grade Level: Third Grade

Purpose: This curriculum is designed to communicate:

  • The design and the diversity of limu species that make up the primary diet of many herbivorous animals on the Hawaiian reef.
  • The interrelationships that exist between ocean plants and other organisms.
  • The connection between structure and function and how this connection plays a part in the survival of ocean grazers.
  • Science literacy in a fun, fascinating and contagious manner.
Ocean Grazer image

Rationale: Our reefs are home to a wide variety of plant and animal life. Oftentimes, outreach and education programs stress conservation and awareness of key figurehead species (such as spinner dolphins, sea turtles, ahi tuna, … etc.). However, there are myriad other, less conspicuous species that play an integral role in the delicate balance of life in the sea. This unit explores the great diversity of algae (limu) that grows within Hawaiian waters and delves into the rich array of ocean grazers (herbivores) that rely on limu as their main food source. Some of these algae-eating animals include the Sally Lightfoot (a‘ama) crab, the Green Sea Turtle (honu), and sea urchins (wana). Lessons incorporate a range of media and techniques to teach these hands-on science activities and to ensure that inquiry-based learning is taking place. This curriculum focuses on the concepts of structure and function and the link that binds them, as well as the interconnections that exist between plant and animal life (e.g. symbiotic interactions and food webs).

Downloadable Lessons

This unit was created and piloted by Megan Lamson, Kristin Tarnas, and LeeAnn Oshiro