Beyond Benign

Elementary School

CUR ES 4th Grade

4th Grade

Secrets of Sharks’ Skin Overview

In this unit, students are introduced to biomimicry and green chemistry as they learn about sharks and technologies that have been inspired by them. Then, students explore geometry while considering the micro-texture of Sharklet film. Finally, students investigate how Sharklet film prevents bacterial growth through a hands-on simulation.

Secrets of Sharks’ Skin: 01 Grammar Sharks

This lesson sets the stage for talking about both sharks and biomimicry by introducing fun shark facts through a grammar-correcting challenge, then by considering examples of technologies modeled after sharks’ dermal denticles. In the upcoming lessons, dermal denticles will be discussed as the inspiration for Sharklet film, a micro-texture that prevents the growth of bacteria without the use of chemical or antibiotic methods.

Secrets of Sharks’ Skin: 02 Geometry in Our World

In this lesson, students are introduced to the patterns and shapes found in Sharklet film. Then students are asked to apply their understanding of geometry by drawing pictures of both the natural and man-made world, and labeling lines, angles and shapes.

Secrets of Sharks’ Skin: 03 Shape or Size?

In this lesson, students will begin to explore how Sharklet film works to prevent the growth of bacteria. They will be considering two major properties of the micro-texture: the shape of the pattern and the size of the pattern.

Secrets of Sharks’ Skin: 04 Prototype Testing: Binder Clip Bacteria

In this lesson, students will evaluate their puffy-paint Sharklet surface models they made in Lesson 3. Students will use sticky notes and binder clips to simulate the accumulation of bacteria on both the Sharklet surface and a flat surface. As students compare their three models, they will collect data to compare with the rest of the class in Lesson 5.

Secrets of Sharks’ Skin: 05 Data and Denticles

In this lesson, the class will compare the Lesson 3 data from each team. After discussing the results as a class, the students should conclude that the size of their Sharklet pattern and the spacing of their puffy paint matters more than the shape of their pattern. This leads to a discussion of how the Sharklet film works to prevent the growth of bacteria. The lesson and the unit wrap up by considering how the pattern of shark denticles benefits sharks’ survival.