Dolphins: Lesson 3 Science, Yr 7

Attitudes Towards Dolphins in Captivity

The learning sequence for this activity begins with designing an experiment to test adults’ attitudes towards dolphin captivity and swimming with captive dolphins programs. Once planned, students collectively design a short, online, quantitative questionnaire that is emailed to parents/guardians for completion. Results, some of which are presented in graph form, are analysed with patterns and anomalies identified. Students communicate the results and their analysis to interviewees in the form of a short report.

Time Allocation

Three lessons.

Voiceless Resources

Key Inquiry Questions

  • What are the attitudes of students’ parents/guardians towards captive dolphins and ‘swim with captive dolphins’ programs for tourists? Do these attitudes change after watching two different videos?
  • How is a quantitative survey constructed using Google Forms to ensure clarity, consistency, response exclusivity, anonymity and useful results?
  • Why is it important to recognise that the solution of some questions and problems requires consideration of social, cultural, economic or moral aspects rather than or as well as scientific investigation?

Suggested Learning Activities


  • Teacher leads students in considering people’s attitudes towards the costs and benefits of ‘swim with captive dolphins’ programs.
  • To prepare for this science inquiry, as a class, read through the Voiceless Fact Sheet: Dolphins in Captivity.
  • The teacher supports students to develop an appropriate research question for their empirical research. A potential research question is: ‘Do the parents/guardians of (insert name of class here) think it is reasonable to keep dolphins captive and allow tourists to swim with them?’ Students can predict possible outcomes.


  • Once the research question is confirmed, guide the class in the design of a short quantitative questionnaire that asks the parents/guardians their views on swimming with captive dolphins.
  • Use Google Forms to write the class’ questionnaire. Although the survey will be emailed from the teacher’s computer, all students should practice drafting the survey on Google Forms individually. The class can use Padlet to brainstorm questions that might inform their research.
  • Ask students to source a short clip from YouTube of people swimming and/or engaging with captive dolphins. Students will then embed this link into their questionnaire.
  • Interviewees will answer a set of initial questions, which are to be answered before respondents watch the chosen clip, in order to ascertain current attitudes towards captive dolphins and tourist swimming programs. Some questions might include: Do they feel dolphins should be kept in captivity? Are they in support of tourists’ swimming with captive dolphins? Have they swum with captive dolphins? Did they enjoy it? Have their views on captive dolphin swim programs changed over time? Include questions on the age and gender of interviewees.
  • Interviewees are then asked to watch Wild vs Captive Dolphins: 10 things you didn’t know about dolphins.
  • After viewing the second video, students should re-examine interviewee’s attitudes towards dolphin captivity and swimming programs by asking them again if they feel dolphins should be kept in captivity and if they are in support of tourists swimming with captive dolphins.
  • The completed questionnaire is then emailed to all students’ parents/guardians from the teacher’s computer.


Once responses have been received back from interviewees, teachers share the results with students. After a class discussion, students are to write a 100-200 word analysis of the results including clear reference to the initial research question.


In evaluating the research process, students should consider the reliability of data collected and the limitations of conclusions that can be drawn from the data. Discussions about problems encountered and how can this be improved in future are useful.


Google Forms provides the option for collated data to be emailed to interviewees. The students should also email their 100-200 word analysis to the person they interviewed.


This activity allows for feedback on student performance by the individual student, their parent/guardian and the teacher.

To help us improve our materials, we would appreciate any work, feedback or thoughts you would like to share:

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