The Chesapeake Bay Oyster Population
Students investigate the present state of the Oyster Population in the Chesapeake Bay (USA) through current news articles and reports. From the readings, students realize the once dominant Oyster Population has completely collapsed. Students begin to speculate why this has happened. [Minimum lesson time 25 to 35 minutes].
1. Synthesize various informational sources to understand the current state of the Chesapeake Bay's oyster population (reading for information).
2. Explore the causes for the collapse of the Bay's oyster population (eg.,disease, sedimentation, poor water quality, and over harvesting). EXTENSION: Higher Level Objectives
3. Explain the consequences of the decline of oyster populations (eg., economic loss, decreased water-filtering capacity, and an overall decline in biodiversity).
4. Identify possible introducing the Asian Oyster into the Bay.
Base Article,, "The Oysters and the Oystermen Are Dwindling." by Washington Post reporter Susan Kinzie.

Teacher Notes on article resources

Series of articles for greater depth or higher level classes or students:

Governor Ehrlich Moves Aggressively..
Crisis and Controversy
Saving the Chesapeake
Optional supplemental activities: Computer Lab (for Independent Student Research or Web Quest navigation), Computer Video Projector (for showing brief video new clips).
1.  Provide students with The Washington Post article entitled "The Oysters and the Oystermen Are Dwindling" by Susan Kinzie.
2.  Use this, or similar article, to establish the recent collapse of the Chesapeak Bay oyster population. (Download "Teacher Notes about the Base Article" from Lesson Resources now. Articles available from internet links in the References section below).
3.  Lesson time for reading and discussion of Base Article is about 25 minutes. Recommended for Middle School or basic level students. Implement instruction in your preferred manner: students could read the article individually and then discuss as a class (you could require students to take notes while reading to help with the subsequent discussion), or you might want to employ the "Think (Read)-Pair-Share" model.
4.  Remember, the basic objective of this part of the Unit is for students to realize that the oyster population has collapsed and to begin to speculate on why this has happened. If you have acess to a video projector and classroom computer, you might supplement readings with brief,, video news clips from television news station WJZ TV in Baltimore.(10 minutes).
5.  For high school level or more advanced students, use multiple articles from a variety of sources in the manner described above. (Download the additional articles now from the References cited below; scanned versions are also available in the Lesson Resources).
6.  Expand (or replace) this component by having students conduct Independent Research or navigate a Web Quest you develop. "Fixing" the Problem? After summarizing the current situation, explore possible solutions for restoring the oyster population--especially the introduction of the Asian Oyster.
7.  Discuss the positives and negatives... but arrive at the conclusion that the issue requires more study!
References "Crisis and Controversy."  Chesapeake Quarterly online vol.1,no.3.,2002., "Governor Ehrlich Moves Aggressively to Study Introducing Asian Oysters into the Chesapeake Bay." (DNR Press Release, June 19, 2003).
Kinzie, Susan., "The Oysters and the Oystermen Are Dwindling." The Washington Post, 25 April 2004: C4. Woodward, Colin. "Saving the Chesapeake--Effort and Money Needed if Bay's Ecology to Recover." E: The Environmental Magazine, Nov/Dec 2001.
State Standards
1.1.1- The student will recognize that real problems have more than one solution and decisions to accept one solution over another are made on the basis of many issues.
1.4.6- The student will describe trends revealed by data.
1.5.9- The student will communicate conclusions derived through a synthesis of ideas.
3.5.2- The student will analyze the interrelationships and interdependencies among different organisms and explain how these relationships contribute to the stabilty of the ecosystem.
6.4.1- Identify an environmental issue and formulate related research questions. Methods of gathering information may include writing letters performing a literature search using the internet interviewing experts
6.4.3- Interpret the findings to draw conclusions and make recommendations to help resolve the issue.
Lesson Resources
--ARTICLE SERIES (Crisis and Controversy)
--ARTICLE SERIES (Governor Erlich Moves Aggressively...)
--ARTICLE SERIES (Saving the Chesapeake...)
--BASE ARTICLE (Oysters & Oystermen are Dwindling)