The following resource has been inspired by research conducted on RV Investigator – ‘Harmful algal blooms and their long-term sediment record in East Coast Tasmanian waters’. Students are presented with an inquiry question to design and develop a STEM solution to a local issue.

Toxic Algae Investigation

Christie Evans, Seaview Downs Primary School, South Australia

Nature of the inquiry problem

What is the solution to toxic algae blooms?

Suitable year levels and subject areas

Year 6 – 7 Science

Mathematics and Design and Digital Technologies content is also incorporated.

Curriculum links

Science Understanding:

  • Classification helps organise the diverse group of organisms
  •  Interactions between organisms, including the effects of human activities can be represented by food chains and food webs

Science as a Human Endeavour:

  • Science involves testing predictions by gathering data and using evidence to develop explanations of events and phenomena and reflects historical contributions.
  • People use science understanding and skills in their occupations, and these have influenced the development of practices in areas of human activity

Science Inquiry Skills:

  • Identify questions and problems that can be investigated scientifically and make predictions based on scientific knowledge.
  • Collaboratively and individually plan and conduct a range of investigation types, including fieldwork and experiments, ensuring safety and ethical guidelines are followed.
Learning Objectives

Know – The classification hierarchy and use the appropriate scientific language. The difference between and the purpose of a food web and food chain. Students need to know what a microorganism is and their role in an ecosystem.

Understand – That we, as human beings, have an important role to play in ensuring the health and viability of micro-organisms. Students need to understand that there are ways that we can all contribute to solving problems that are occurring globally.

Able to do – Sort and classify unknown microorganisms in terms of zooplankton and phytoplankton. Be able to represent the data in a table and create appropriate graphical representations.

Interpret data sets from a primary resource and compare data from different regions.

Student Learning Outcomes*

Students will be able to:

  • Classify organisms based on observable differences
  • Summarise data from primary and secondary sources
  • Communicate their ideas, methods and findings using scientific language and appropriate representations
  • Work collaboratively with others

Student investigation (collaborative and individual tasks)

Assessment outcomes

Student assignment

Information and communications technology (ICT)

Embedded web links


© Harmful algal blooms and their long-term sediment record in East Coast Tasmanian waters (created by Christie Evans) (2019) Copyright owned by Department for Education, South Australia. Except as otherwise noted, this work is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. To view a copy of this licence, visit

Download the lesson here

Harmful algal blooms and their long-term sediment record in East Coast Tasmanian waters [pdf · 1mb]

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