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Sharon Radford


This unit includes hands-on activities, simulations, inquiry labs, group learning, field trip, review and assessment through projects, tests, and a notebook.


Ninth grade biology at our school. Could be used in environmental science, integrated science, or upper-level classes. This unit helps students integrate information about ecology, invertebrate biology and culture and apply this information to their own region.


Topics covered:

  • Principles of ecology, covered before this unit begins.

  • Major invertebrate phyla, characteristics of phylum, adaptations to environment, special features of major classes, relationships between phyla.

  • Characteristics of Georgia coast: high tides, low waves, mineral sand, large estuary.

  • Island dynamics, sand-sharing system, longshore current and island movement, impact of development on these processes.

  • Humans on the coast, emphasis on Gullah culture, which remains in Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana and part of Oklahoma. Comparison of coast of Sierra Leone (part of the "Rice Coast") to Southeast coast through video, "Family Across the Sea," and visit with Mr. W. W. Law, a Savannah historian.

  • Field trip to University of Georgia Marine Extension Service, collection and study of organisms and ecology directly. Relate organisms with food webs and physical features of environment.

Student requirements:

After a short lecture in the large group of thirty, students meet in groups of ten with an older student intern, who helps direct the learning of the invertebrate material by going over homework and answering questions. Students have two tests over this material. These tests are 50% of the final grade, the homework and lab activities, 25%.

Notebook: all students are required to keep a notebook of class activities, lectures, films, and labs, with a separate section devoted to the field trip. The notebook is the remaining 25% of the final grade.

Class time:

This class meets for four weeks, one hour and 45 minutes each day. This schedule fits into our academic calendar, but could easily be modified to fit other calendars.



In The Coast students explore the unique ecosystems and culture found along the Georgia coast and the Georgia barrier islands. Students are introduced to marine organisms and coastal ecology in class at Paideia. They have the opportunity to see it all first hand on the trip to the University of Georgia Marine Station on Skidaway Island. The evaluation is based on labs and homework (25%), tests (50%), the notebook (25%) and general participation.

Materials needed:

  • Invertebrate phyla: videos or filmstrips, preserved and living specimens, textbook.
  • Coastal dynamics: materials prepared by UGA Marine Extension Service.
  • Culture: video, or other presentation.
  • Field trip: rental vans (or other transportation), parent chaperones.


This occurs informally when students go on vacation with their families to the beach, or on canoeing or camping trips with the school; some students are reported to be quite free with their newly learned information. More formally, the experience of the 9th graders in this course is a foundation for similar or related topics covered in upper level courses: Biology II, Advanced Placement Biology, or Environmental Science.

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