Shark Tracking Promotes Learning

Learning can take many forms and one of the best ways to facilitate someones learning is to tap into their natural curiosity. By finding something of compelling interest to an individual the task of teaching/parenting can be raised to higher levels because the students intrinsic motivation keeps them engaged.  Often they are so engaged that they go beyond what they are tasked to do in homework, reading and writing.  It is like putting Pandora’s Box in front of the student and telling them not too open it.

So, while it is the desire to find these intrinsic motivators in a learner, the task of finding them is not always so easy.  Asking the individual can sometimes shed light on this.  However, often it is not so easy and what works for a female teenager may not work for a tween, college student or any other learner of the same or different gender.  Working one-on-one with individuals certainly makes finding ‘perfect’ learning motivators easier than if I’m working with a classroom of 20 students, but there is still work to be done building the ties to what you wish to teach be it reading, writing, science, math, social studies, etc.

Some of the topics I find that work great for many individuals are:

  • Sports
  • Animals
  • Dinosaurs
  • Warfare
  • Fashion
  • Money
  • Music
  • Movies
  • Art

Both children and adults tend to have some type of fascination with sharks and scanning the news services this morning I came across a story by Pete Thomas on’s blog titled ‘Great white shark tagging expedition said to be most ambitious in U.S. history’.  In it was a link to a group called OCEARCH that is the focus of the article. On July 30th this group of oceanic scientists will embark on an ambitious shark tagging expedition. The hope of the month-long voyage off the coast of Cape Cod, MA is to capture, tag, and release as many as 20 great white sharks.

In the article is a link to the group’s shark tracking web site.  This is where you can build some really engaging learning opportunities for a student(s).  The highly interactive map of the earth shows the position of the 40 sharks that are already tagged.  I can see numerous activities I could use this amazing research for with a current student entering 9th grade I have who needs help in preparing for Global History and Math.  For global the map will be a great catalyst for learning the geography of the world. With math I’ll be able to use the facts and figures about the sharks to create word problems, equations, use matrices for representing data and work on probability topics like:

  • Designing statistical experiments and use real world situations.
  • Draw inferences and display summaries using the appropriate charts/graphs.
  • Analyze, support and argue conclusions based on raw data and statistical information.

Now the hard part for me…reviewing the material and building the lessons!


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Filed under Education, Improved Learning, Learning Resources, My Experiences, Parenting

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