Facts and Fishes: Focus Area 1 Science, Yr 7


In these lessons, students will learn about the many capabilities of fishes, including sensory abilities, communication, and navigation. Through close reading, research, class discussion, and visual literacy, students will explore the many ways in which fishes can be viewed as sophisticated and consider why it may be necessary for young people to possess such knowledge.

Time and Structure

  • This Focus Area could take anywhere between 1-2 lessons or longer.
  • The lesson has been designed to be flexible, so that teachers may choose to alter or omit tasks to suit the needs of their students.


Mixed ability class with extension tasks.


Unit Focus

  • Question  whether our treatment of fishes reflects what we know about them.
  • Consider  the different views on this issue and decide for yourself where you stand.
  • Discuss  with your friends, family, classmates and teachers. Debating complex issues is healthy and helpful.

Voiceless Resources 

Inquiry Questions 

  • In what ways can fishes be viewed as sophisticated?
  • Why is it necessary for young people to become knowledgeable about the capabilities and sentience of fishes?


Suggested Learning Activities 

This focus area refers to a range of chapters.


The aim of this pre-test is to:

Get students physically moving at the beginning of the lesson to assist in cognitive functioning;
Encourage students to make quick decisions (with the purpose of discussing the nature of how and why they make their decisions);
To obtain the level/s of prior knowledge students may already have on the capabilities of fishes.
This task is to be completed prior to reading the Voiceless Fact Sheet: The Watery World of Fishes. 


Sequencing Task: Something Fishy – Fact or Fiction? 

Using the Something Fishy – Fact or Fiction Statements students will make quick decisions on a range of statements relating to the capabilities of fishes.

Instructions for Teacher 

Read the statements aloud and ask students to line up from one end of the classroom to the other. One end will signify ‘Fact’, whilst the opposing end will signify ‘Fiction’.

Students will sequence themselves along the line according to their own understanding/knowledge of the statement.

Encourage students to make up their own minds as to how they feel about each of the statements, rather than following a friend.



Read and Review

Read through Pages 2-3 of The Watery World of Fishes as a class, or teacher led.

Students to highlight unfamiliar words as they go. Most scientific terms can be found in the Glossary, however, depending on the literacy capabilities, there may be others which will need to be addressed by the teacher.

Hand out the Glossary. Spend some time discussing the language, if required.

Mini Research Task: Navigating the High Seas 

Students take 10-15 minutes to research the three ways in which fishes navigate through the water.

  • Hydrodynamic imaging
  • Sun compassing
  • Electromagnetic navigation

Students to complete the following: 

Write one sentence which explains the form of navigation.
Identify an example of a specific fish species which uses this form of navigation?


Once you have read through the resources, ask students to pair up. Give students a copy of the Fact or Fiction Statements (used in the pre-test) and ask them to consider the following questions with their partner:

  • How did you make your decisions?
  • What is an assumption?
  • What is a generalisation?
  • Why might these be considered negative, dangerous or ineffective in the science community?
  • Which of the statements surprised you the most and why?

Open the discussion up to the whole class, reflect on the questions above and give students an opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions.

4. Extension Task: What do you think?

Professor Culum Brown and Dr. Catarina Vila Pouca point out that fishing and hunting are often not viewed in the same light and that in some national parks it is legal to fish but illegal to pick flowers (refer to Page 3 in The Watery World of Fishes).

Use this question as a starting point for a class discussion or debate on the following topic:

Is it okay for human beings to take from the natural environment? 

Alternatively, as an individual task, students can be asked to compose an extended response where they explain their point of view in a persuasive manner.



Bust the Myths through Visual Literacy! 

Students are to use their knowledge and understanding, obtained from the resource material, and the class activities above, to create an A4 poster (digitally or by hand) which seeks to bust the first myth of fishes: Fishes aren’t Sophisticated.

Students should aim for the following:

Focus on ONE key area, relating to the capabilities of fishes. They may choose from the list below:

  • Sensory abilities;
  • Communication;
  • Navigation.

Aside from statistics, students must express the facts in their own words and should use the Glossary to help them.

Consider the visual layout of the poster including:

  • Font design;
  • Colour and symbolism;
  • Vectors;
  • Salient image (the dominant image).

Create their own slogan or catch phrase which promotes the message they are trying to convey. E.g. Fishes! The True Seafarers.
Target Audience: Their peers!
This would work well as a homework task if time does not allow for it to be completed in class.

6. REFLECT – 3. 2. 1

Ask students to complete a written reflection using the 3.2.1 Reflection Worksheet on what they have learnt during this lesson/s. Refer to the Worksheet attached to this focus area.

 things you learnt

2  things you found interesting

1  thing you would like to know more about


If you and your students enjoyed these activities, then please continue to work through the subsequent focus areas within the unit. Up next, Myth Busting – Consciousness under the Sea. 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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