Level 4

Alaska Science
Key Element A15

A student who meets the content standard should use science to understand and describe the local environment (Local Knowledge).

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Performance Standard Level 4, Ages 15–18

Students recommend a management strategy to solve a local environmental problem related to resource utilization such as fish and game, building permits, mineral rights, and land use policies.

Sample Assessment Ideas

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Sample Assessment Ideas

  • Students explore the watershed management in their local area and recommend alternative strategies they think would be beneficial for the local fish and wildlife.

  • Students investigate the source of the community’s water and its waste disposal system; recommend improvements beneficial to the local fish and wildlife.

Expanded Sample Assessment Idea

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Expanded Sample Assessment Idea

  • Students hypothesize which factors should be considered to predict when Alaska herring fisheries will open. Factors include surface water temperature, weather, wind, tides, roe percents, projected age, and so on. Students will use Internet, printed reference material, and interviews with knowledgeable people.


Students will:

  1. Collect samples of fish of specific ages; examine fish scales using a hand lens and a microscope; draw observations; write a generalization that can be used to determine the age of a fish using microscopic observations of fish scales.

  2. Interview Elders, local fishermen, and knowledgeable outdoorsmen; discuss how they predict the arrival and time of spawning. Questions should include: How did they learn to look for these predicting signs? How close do their predictions usually come to actual fishery opening dates? What is the outcome when their prediction dates are wrong? What kind of “window” of correct prediction is important to them?

  3. Form teams of 3–4 students with each team assigned a herring fishery; based on fishery location, the group decides which factors play primary roles in predicting the opening date of the fishery; each student on the team becomes the subject-matter expert for one or more factors.

  4. Use a variety of research resources to collect information about the variables being studied, (for example, Internet, Department of Fish and Game, National Oceanographic and Aeronautic Association (NOAA) records, meteorological records, and so on).

  5. Based on research, each team will predict the herring fishery opening.

  6. Student predictions will be compared to actual openings.

Reflection and Revision

Based on the results of their site, teams modify their hypothesis and factors for subsequent fishery openings.


Levels of Performance

Stage 4
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Student research incorporates multiple sources of information. Data collected is extensive, and relevant to the conditions at the assigned fishery site. Student’s work demonstrates extensive evidence of knowledge related to environmental problem solving.
Stage 3
stage fish
stage fish
stage fish
Student research incorporates several sources of information. Data collected is relevant to the conditions at the assigned fishery site. Student work demonstrates some evidence of knowledge related to environmental problem solving. Minor misconceptions may be evident.
Stage 2
stage fish
stage fish
Student research uses limited sources of information. Data collected is relevant to the conditions at the assigned fishery, but lack detail. Students work demonstrates limited evidence of knowledge related to environmental problem solving. Student work may be incomplete, incorrect, lacking detail, or contain errors of reasoning.
Stage 1
stage fish
Students research may be on topic, but is limited in scope. Data shows little or no evidence relating to the assigned fishery site. Students work is largely incomplete, incorrect, and may show major misconceptions.
Standards Cross-Reference gold rule

Standards Cross-References
( Alaska Department of Education & Early Development Standards

National Science Education Standards

Organisms both cooperate and compete in ecosystems. The interrelationships and interdependencies of these organisms may generate ecosystems that are stable for hundreds or thousands of years. (Page 186)

Living organisms have the capacity to produce populations of infinite size, but environments and resources are finite. This fundamental tension has profound effects on the interactions between organisms. (Page 186)

Human beings live within the world’s ecosystems. Increasingly, humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, technology, and consumption. Human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, atmospheric changes, and other factors is threatening current global stability, and if not addressed, ecosystems will be irreversibly affected. (Page 186)

Human populations use resources in the environment in order to maintain and improve their existence. Natural resources have been and will continue to be used to maintain human populations. (Page 198)

Humans use many natural systems as resources. Natural systems have the capacity to reuse waste, but that capacity is limited. Natural systems can change to an extent that exceeds the limits of organisms to adapt naturally or humans to adapt technologically. (Page 198)

Natural ecosystems provide an array of basic processes that affect humans. Those processes include maintenance of the quality of the atmosphere, generation of soils, control of the hydrologic cycle, disposal of wastes, and recycling of nutrients. Humans are changing many of these basic processes, and the changes may be detrimental to humans. (Page 198)

Materials from human societies affect both physical and chemical cycles of the Earth. (Page 198)



The variation of organisms within a species increases the likelihood that at least some members of the species will survive under changed environmental conditions. A great diversity of species increases the chance that at least some living things will survive in the face of large changes in the environment. (Page 105)

Ecosystems can be reasonably stable over hundreds or thousands of years. As any population of organisms grows, it is held in check by one or more environmental factors: depletion of food or nesting sites, increased loss to increased numbers of predators, or parasites. If a disaster such as flood or fire occurs, the damaged ecosystem is likely to recover in stages that eventually result in a system similar to the original one. (Page 117)

Human beings are part of the Earth’s ecosystems. Human activities can, deliberately or inadvertently, alter the equilibrium in ecosystems. (Page 117)

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