Activity Introduction

blue_shark_slp_0062-copy-2_photoframeQuick summary: This lesson incorporates clips from Blue The Film as learning inspiration. Students examine and compare the respiratory systems of humans, sharks and marine turtles. They begin by working as a class to brainstorm what they already know about respiratory systems, and then investigate how human respiratory systems work. They then work in groups to investigate and compare the respiratory systems of a shark and a marine turtle and create an infographic or poster to share the results of their research. Finally students are asked to think about why having an understanding of body systems – such as respiratory systems – helps scientists to care for and protect animals.

blue-white-logo-120pxBlue is a feature documentary film charting the drastic decline in the health of our oceans. With more than half of all marine life lost and the expansion of the industrialization of the seas, the film sets out the challenges we are facing and the opportunities for positive change. Blue changes the way we think about our liquid world and inspires the audience to action. Find out how to screen or download the film here. Along with the film is an ambitious global campaign to create advocacy and behaviour change through the #oceanguardian movement. To become an ocean guardian, see the website.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will understand the function of respiratory systems.
  • Students will understand the similarities and differences between the respiratory systems of humans, sharks and marine turtles.
  • Students will recognise how an understanding of animal physiology helps scientists to protect animals.

21st century skills:


Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 8 Science

  • Multi-cellular organisms contain systems of organs carrying out specialised functions that enable them to survive and reproduce (ACSSU150)

Syllabus outcomes: SC4-14LW.

General capabilities: Critical and creative thinking, Literacy.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.2.

Relevant parts of Year 8 Science achievement standards: Students analyse the relationship between structure and function at cell, organ and body system levels.

Topic: Blue The Film, Ocean Conservation, Biodiversity.

Unit of work: Blue The Film – Science – Year 7 & 8.

Time required: 140 mins +

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – lead students in guided discussion. 

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a website to the class. Human Respiratory System Diagram, Communication Piece Assessment Rubric.

Keywords: Blue The Film, ocean conservation, respiratory system, sharks, turtles, humans, ocean.

Cool Australia and Northern Pictures would like to acknowledge the generous contributions of GoodPitch² AustraliaShark Island InstituteDocumentary Australia FoundationThe Caledonia Foundation and Screen Australia in the development of these teaching resources.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

© 2017 Northern Pictures and Cool Australia


Teacher Worksheet

blue_turtle-light_slp_0054-copy-2_photoframeTeacher preparation

Learning intention: Students will understand how studying the physiology of animals can help us protect them.

Success criteria: Students will...

  • Know what the respiratory system is, what the features of respiratory systems are and how respiratory systems differ between some animals.
  • Know why we need to understand animals in order to protect them.
  • Be able to conduct research online and from videos.
  • Be able to annotate a scientific diagram.


Teacher content information: From space, our planet appears as a tiny blue dot in the vastness of the universe. No matter where you live on our blue planet – you’re connected to the sea.

But the seas are under threat. The industrialisation that has occurred in the oceans over the last century mirrors the events that triggered mass extinctions on land. Industrial scale fishing, habitat destruction, species loss and pollution have placed the ocean in peril. The very nature of the sea is being irretrievably altered.

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Why do we breathe?


Watch the following video and answer the questions below:

Respiratory System, part 1: Crash Course (

1. What is the respiratory system? 

2. What are some of the parts of the respiratory system? 

3. What does bulk flow describe? 

4. What does diffusion describe? 

5. Describe three things that you found interesting about this video:




6.What questions does this video leave you with? 

Comparing the Respiratory Systems of Sharks and Turtles

You will now be working in groups to investigate and compare the respiratory systems of sharks and turtles. Each group needs to:

  • Undertake the research necessary to describe the respiratory systems of both sharks and turtles
  • Describe the similarities and differences between the two respiratory systems
  • Creatively present this information through either a poster, infographic (e.g. Piktochart), video, animation or other form of communication
  • Pro
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