# Growth: Humans & Surf Clams

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2 East Coast MARE Make Sense: Compare the plots of human growth and surf clam growth. What minutes can we learn about how animals grow from these examples? Total: minutes Audience Early elementary school students (K-4 th grade). New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards - Science Grade Content Statement CPI# 2 Living organisms: grow and develop in a predictable manner A.1 4 Living organisms: grow and develop in a predictable manner A.1 4 Building and refining models and explanations requires generation and evaluation of B.1 evidence. 4 Tools and technology are used to gather, analyze, and communicate results B.2 4 Evidence is used to construct and defend arguments B.3 Preparation (15 minutes) 1. For homework the night before, have your students record the age (years) and height (inches) of all of their family members. 2. Draw a chart on the board for the students to fill in the height and age of their family members as they walk into class. 3. Write the motivating question on the board: How do animals grow over time? Are growth curves similar or different between people and surf clams? 4. Project the map of where the surf clam data was collected (at the end of this document). 5. Draw out a blank graph with Age (Year) on the x-axis and Length (mm) on the y-axis on the board. 6. Draw out the data table with the Age (Year) and Length (mm) data on the board. Age (Year) Length (mm) Make a graph of the actual surf clam data on the board, but make sure it is hidden from the students. 2

4 East Coast MARE Q. What do you know about shellfish? What do you know about surf clams? What do they need to survive? Where do they live? 7. After a minute or two, and depending on what the students already know, share some information with them that you feel they need to know to understand the activity of the day or that you want them to know about shellfish/clams in general. Explore (20-40 minutes) 1. Explain to the students that fisheries scientists collect surf clams off of New Jersey every year to gather information about their size, age, and health. Point out to the students where the samples were collected (and other fun landmarks in the mid-atlantic) on the map. 2. As a class make a graph of the age and size data for the surf clams from off of New Jersey on the board. (Note Engage the students as much as possible in the graphing activity, have them draw the dots or use white paper and have them place stickers for each data point. It may help to assign students specific rows from the data table to individually plot on the class graph.) 3. Once the graph is complete, have the students talk with a partner to answer: Q. What patterns can you observe in the data? Q. How old to surf clams get? Q. How big do surf clams get? 4. After a few minutes, have the students come back together and share as a class their observations. Make sure to have the students support their statements of the patterns and trends by stating what evidence they are using. 5. As the conversation is winding, down explain to them that scientists use a model and these data to make a growth curve line (show them the graph with the predicted growth curve line) to show the average growth curve of surf clams in the population. 6. Have the students work in small groups (2 partner pairs) and discuss: 4

5 Q. Is there a relationship between age and size of Atlantic surf clams off of New Jersey? East Coast MARE 7. After a few minutes bring the students back together as a class to have them share with one another what they talked about as the relationship between age and length of surf clams. Make sure to have the students support their statements of the patterns and trends by stating what evidence they are using. As the students are commenting on the relationships, keep a list of their statements on the board. Make sure the students understand, by the end, that the growth curve line helps scientists understand how surf clams grow and that this is the same concept as the growth curve for people that doctors use. Make Sense (10-20 minutes) 1. Tell the students that we are going to interpret and analyze all of the data (humans and surf clams) as a class. 2. With a partner have the students compare the data. Have them look at the two plots (human growth and surf clam growth) and think of the similarities and differences between the growth curves of humans and surf clams. 3. After a few minutes have the students report out what patterns and/or relationships they observed in the two datasets. Make sure to have the students support their statements of the patterns and/or relationships by stating what evidence they are using. 4. Help the students see the: a. Similarities: i. As both humans and surf clams get older (age increases) they get bigger (length increases). ii. However, this is not a linear relationship (1:1) and that the relationship (slope) changes as the surf clams get older, just like in humans, until it eventually levels off. b. Differences: i. The maximum age of surf clams is younger than humans (only 35 years old). ii. The maximum size/length of surf clams is smaller than humans (only 189 mm ~7.5 in). 5. Once the discussion slows down, point to the motivating questions and ask: Q. How do animals grow over time? Are growth curves similar or different between people and surf clams? 6. Ask students to share their ideas about the questions with the entire class. Be accepting of all responses from the students. This is your opportunity to make sure the students understand the take home message. 7. Ask if the students have any final questions about the activity, graphing, or relationship between age and size of animals. 5

6 Surf Clam Sampling Map East Coast MARE Sampling stratum (area) of surf clams off of New Jersey from NOAA Fisheries Federal Stock Assessment Surveys. 6

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