Activity Introduction

blue_fish-swimming_untitled_1-583-1_photoframeQuick summary: This lesson incorporates clips from Blue The Film as learning inspiration. Students are invited to engage in a hands-on activity to help them visualise connections between the different components of an ecosystem. The strategy used, hexagonal thinking, provides the opportunity for students to build their knowledge, attitudes and values by themselves. Students will begin the lesson by watching a clip about coral bleaching, and then explore the relationship between human activities and the health of ocean ecosystems and organisms. Finally, students are asked to consider how human activities could be altered to minimise impacts on marine ecosystems and organisms.

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 intention:

  • Students will understand that ocean ecosystems are communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment.
  • Students will recognise some of the actions they can take to help marine ecosystems and organisms.

21st century skills:


Australian Curriculum Mapping

Year 9 Science

Content descriptions:

  • Ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment; matter and energy flow through these systems (ACSSU176)
  • Communicate scientific ideas and information for a particular purpose, including constructing evidence-based arguments and using appropriate scientific language, conventions and representations (ACSIS174)

Syllabus outcomes: SC5-14LW, SC5-9WS.

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking.

Cross-curriculum priority: Sustainability OI.2, OI.7.

Relevant parts of Year 9 Science achievement standards: Students analyse how biological systems function and respond to external changes with reference to interdependencies. They use appropriate language and representations when communicating their findings and ideas to specific audiences.

Topic: Blue The Film, Ocean Conservation, Water.

Unit of work: Blue The Film – Science – Year 9 & 10.

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Low – allow students to explore the topic independently.

Resources required: Student Worksheet – one copy per student. Device capable of presenting a clip to the class. Ocean Ecosystem Interactions – Hexagonal Thinking (one per pair of students). Butcher’s paper, Blu-tack, pens/pencils, scissors.

Keywords: Blue The Film, ocean conservation, marine ecosystems.

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_ocean_untitled_1-676-1_photoframeTeacher Preparation

Learning intention: Students will understand that ocean ecosystems are communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment.

Success criteria: Students will...

  • Know that organisms in the ocean ecosystem are interconnected.
  • Know that abiotic components of the ecosystem affect the biotic components and vice versa.
  • Know how humans can impact ocean ecosystems, both directly and indirectly.


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.

By international standards

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: How do humans impact the ocean?

Making connections

In your own words, write a definition for each of the following terms:







You may need to undertake some research to help you write your definitions. When researching online, remember the Search strategies for Googling.

Human impacts on ocean ecosystems

The effects of human activity on ocean ecosystems:

  • Does this activity affect the ocean in more than one way?
  • Does this activity have knock-on impacts? For example, fishing can impact fish populations, which in turn can affect the populations of animals that consume fish.
  • Are you aware of any efforts to minimise the impacts of this human activity? What are they and how did you hear about them?
Marine ecosystem/organism Effects of human activity
Mangroves Increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 increases mangrove productivity. However, sea level rise affects their survival.
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