Classroom Activities


OPIHI directly supports the move to three-dimensional teaching and learning as outlined by the Framework for K–12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

  • Tie M&Ms to chi-square calculations
  • Photoquadrats
  • Fake field trips

Colored index cards to ID algae

ID algae (pressing)

  •     Index cards (correspond to color of algae) – different people ID, other people check their IDs

Classroom Preparation

Spend the time to prepare your students for the field trip and make it meaningful. The trip should be part of your class objectives, building on prior activities and lead to future lessons. The OPIHI pre-field trip activities introduce your students to the intertidal and allow them to practice the sampling methods that will be used in the field.

Species Identification

Spend time with your students learning and identifying the most common organisms at your site before you go into the field. If possible, bring organisms into the classroom from the site, and have students practice using the OPIHI ID cards and other identification guides. Students can also press algae or do a phylum research project to learn about the organisms they will encounter in the field.

Species can be identified with field guides, online resources, and identification (ID) cards. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Focus on identifying things to genus if identifying to species is difficult.
  • Keep in mind many of the species found at a site may not be on the ID cards or in books. Encourage students to explore additional resources rather than just using the OPIHI ID cards.
  • The OPIHI ID cards and data sheets use scientific (and, when known, Hawaiian) names. If you students are more familiar with other (e.g., common) names, you can substitute them on the sheets (just make sure there is a 1-to-1 link with the scientific names).
  • Species that cannot be identified in the field should be richly described and photographed for later identification; algae can be collected to ID later in the classroom.
  • Encourage groups to ask each other if they are unsure about a species’ identification, pooling knowledge leads to much more accurate identifications.


Online ideas: create concept maps in groups


Concept map assessment for water quality, algae, and/or watersheds

  • Tie M&Ms
  • to chi-square calculations
  • Model with graphing of data (e.g., Jenny, Holly)

Have student analyze, infer, represent, and communicate their findings so the data collected during the field trip does not just get handed off, but is authentically utilized in your classroom. After analyzing their data, students can present it in traditional ways, such as a lab or oral report, but can also make posters, teach the intertidal ecosystem to younger students, or invite parents to a symposium.


Practice! Practice the methods and IDing in class before your trip. Practice makes better.

Needs essential questions, model how can use OPIHi to generate/test hypotheses; model making predictions (e.g., water quality more); (e.g., Essential question: how do scientists measure the richness and abundance of intertidal species?)

IDed samples around room – student did “check” to see if they agreed with previous people’s ID

Intergrate hypothesis testing à water quality
Do more with data (e.g., graphing, inspired by Jenny’s graphs)
Learn species with T/Q (vs. tickets and craft sticks). Have cut-up pictures spread around.
Make predictions on maps (e.g., for water quality)

  • Have STUDENTS dicuss: benefits of citizen science and contributions (good to collect lot of data and sample lot of different area) – is data always accurate/good? It’s a balance
  • Tied M&Ms into chi-square calculations (AP class)