Learning Module

Marine Ecosystem: Lobsters & Black Sea Bass

This series of lessons follows up on the work in LabVenture and will explore how changes in ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Maine are affecting the distribution of two key species in the Gulf - lobsters and black sea bass. Students will be using data representations different from those used in LabVenture to explore how temperature is changing, and how catch rates of lobster and black sea bass are changing over time along the New England coastline.

Lobster Image

Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize graphs of change over time as evidence of change in ecosystems. 
  • Use information drawn from a combination of graphs and maps to describe changes with a geographical dimension (e.g. shifts in population distribution or range).
  • Recognize that data can be organized and represented in different ways to answer different questions, e.g., students make connections between a data table and a data visualization.
  • View local instances of change as part of a larger system of change.
  • Use data as evidence to support a claim.
  • Use data visualizations to communicate about and to understand/make sense of a phenomenon.
  • Recognize models as a tool that can help you think about the future.

Time Estimate
4 to 10 class periods


This module was developed to follow on to your LabVenture experience. The lessons are designed to be followed by students working individually on a desktop, laptop, or Chromebook computer, with a reasonably fast internet connection. (Although it is possible to use the various tools on tablets, there are interface elements that are specifically designed for use with a mouse, and as such, certain tasks may not work as described on a tablet, smart phone, or other portable device.) We will be using a variety of tools in these lessons.

Lesson 1: Changing Oceans

Students examine evidence that sea surface temperature is increasing along the New England coastline, learn about methods to study trends in data and make predictions using data, and run a simulation to illustrate the nature of the relationship between time and sea surface temperature.

Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)

Lesson 2: The Future of Lobster in Maine

Students examine changes in lobster catch rates around New England and explore a simple model of the relationship between lobster populations and ocean temperature.

Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)

Lesson 3: The Future of Black Sea Bass in Maine

Students examine changes in black sea bass catch rates around the coastline of the northeastern United States. Building off the previous two lessons students do more of the data manipulation as they look at trends and the relationship between black sea bass populations and ocean temperature.

Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)

Lesson 4: Modeling the Gulf of Maine

Students begin to observe what happens when we add complexity to their models and students are invited to add their own inputs to the model, and to think about their effects.

Teacher GuideOnline Student Lesson | Student Sheet (Google Doc or Print)