Jul 312013

Venomous Marine Animals Lesson Plan

venomous marine animals

1) Purpose:

Students will learn about venomous marine animals, the nature of venom, and the treatment of envenomation.

Students will conduct an experiment to learn / demonstrate how proteins such as venoms can be denatured and will explore venomous creatures through research and reporting.

2) Venomous Marine Animals Science Goal(s)

Students will be able to name at least six venomous marine animals, with at least three being sea creatures, and will be able to name the animal habitats and geographical locations.

Students will be able to define coagulate, denatured, envenom, protein, toxicologist, venom.

Students will be able to explain what happens when heat is applied to envenomated victims and why we would want to apply the heat treatment.

3) Venomous Marine Animals Science Lesson Objectives:

Students will successfully perform egg activity.

Students will look up and write down definitions for given vocabulary words.

Students will participate in classroom discussions.

Students will complete worksheets and specify an animal to research.

Students will write a two+ page report on the venomous animal they researched.

Students will present a short oral synopsis of the animal they are reporting on.

Students will participate in treatment planning (through extension student reports & group activity).

4) Target Audience:

High school level Biology class.

5) Materials and Resources:

  • raw eggs – one for each pair of students
  • bowls or glass beakers – one for each pair of students
  • table
  • spoons – one for each pair of students
  • heated water
  • compresses – one for each student
  • dictionary access
  • Computer Internet access and/or Library/Research time
  • Worksheets

6) Venomous Marine Animals Science Anticipatory Set:

Write in LARGE, colorful letters on the board:  jellyfish with tentacles + hot liquid = ?  

The answer students will learn: “denatured venom”

7) Venomous Marine Animals Science Lesson:

Step-by-step instructions for teaching Venomous Marine Animals Science lesson.
a. Explain:
Toxicologists report that venoms represent some of the most complex chemical compounds in nature. There are many fish species with spines capable of injecting venom. This ability is nearly always a protective mechanism, but is occasionally used for incapacitating prey. The spines may be concealed, as in the stonefish, or displayed, as in the lionfish, as a warning to predators. Many venoms are actually proteins and as such can be denatured through special techniques including heat treatment.

b. Show the film: Secrets of the Ocean Realm episode “Venom!”, or create small groups to research venomous sea creatures on the Internet or in the library.  Have them recall geographical locations of these creatures.

c. Have students call out the venomous sea creatures they recall from the film or research.  Write these on the board.  Responses may be coral, jellyfish, sea urchins, lionfish, sting rays, or others.  Have them recall information about the ocean habitat for each creature listed (coral reef, ocean floor, tidal region, etc)

d.  Explain: There are ways to treat envenomation of a victim.  One way is through heat treatment.  You all are about to be envenomated by an egg!!  We must subsequently prepare our denaturing treatment!

e. Perform the experimental denaturing treatment activity.

f. Explain: Venomous animals are common among insects, fishes, amphibians, and reptiles.

There are no venomous birds, and only one venomous mammal-the duckbill platypus of Australia. (The latter has venom glands in its hind legs and delivers its venom by scratching with specially adapted claws.)

Explain that each student will choose an example from these groups to write a report on, to share with the class, and will have one week for library or other research.  Tell students to consider the potency of venoms, how the animals deliver them, what their purposes are, as well as information about the geographical location and habitat of the animal.

f. Hand out Venomous Marine Animals Science worksheets.

g. Explain to extension students they will become “team leaders” for an “Envenomation Rescue Group”. They will need to research alternative methods of treatment other than heat application and lead a rescue planning session with their group in two days.  Assign student groups with each “team leader”.  On the day of discussion, each group will discuss alternative treatment plans, decide which treatments they will use and why, and decide what course of treatment they would prefer if they were envenomated.

They will develop a presentation to be given on Friday. (Students may work on independent research and/or in their Envenomation Rescue Group as daily activities.)

8) Guided Practice:

Venomous Marine Animals Science Experimental procedure:

1. Have students break an egg into a bowl/beaker and remove the yolk using a table spoon. (Tilt the beaker in order to make removal easier).

2. Save the white in the beaker. This white, a protein compound, will be used to represent the venom of a marine animal.

3. Now, using volunteers from among the students, carefully pour the “venom” onto the backs of hands or arms. (These limbs are the ones most commonly envenomated during accidental contact with marine animals.)

4. After soaking the compresses in hot water (not scalding!) apply the hot compresses to the envenomated areas. After a few moments, remove the compresses and observe the results. What has happened to the “venom?” Is it now more readily removed from the limb?

Explain Venomous Marine Animals Science:
Most fish venoms, being proteins, are readily denatured by the application of heat. In much the same way the egg white solidifies when heated, venoms coagulate under heat treatment. This coagulation inhibits their circulation under the skin, in the case of punctures by spines or injections by fangs, and allows their ready removal in the case of surface stings such as delivered by jellyfish and corals.

9) Independent Practice:

Students will complete the provided worksheet and choose an example from among insects, fishes, amphibians, and reptiles to write a report on and to share with the class. They will have one week for library or other research.  Students must consider the potency of venoms, how the animals deliver them, what their purposes are, as well as report information about the geographical location and habitat of the animal.  Reports should be at least two full double-spaced, typed pages, font size 12.

10) Assessment of Learning:

Verify student mastery of content or measure student progress.


Point Value

Full participation in egg-speriment.


Worksheet completed and definitions for given vocabulary words.

Each vocabulary word 5 points: 30

Discussion question: 10

Participated in classroom discussions.


Two+ page report
on the venomous animal (30 pts)

Venom nature: 05

Venom purpose: 05

Habitat Info: 10

Venomous Marine Animals Geographical Location: 10

Presented a short oral synopsis of their animal.


Participate in treatment planning (through extension student reports & group activity).

10 Bonus

Total Points


Other Considerations for Venomous Marine Animals Science:

11. Venomous Marine Animals Science Subject connections: Geography (location), Reading (research), Writing (report), Public Speaking skills.

12. Venomous Marine Animals Science Accommodations:

Let students work in pairs on egg-speriment.

Have an assistant read research content to students or have books on tape available.

Provide a scribe to take dictation of students’ worksheet and report content.

13. Venomous Marine Animals Science Modifications:

Let students explore eggs – provide a large bowl and apron.  Practice

“gentle” egg handling, observing changes when pouring hot liquid in with the eggs, etc.

Let students look at or read basic books on sea creatures.

Provide students with pictures of sea creatures.  Teach them to identify the creatures.

14. Venomous Marine Animals Science Extensions:

Have students research articles regarding envenomation by marine animals at:

American Family Physician’s Poisoning, Envenomation, and Trauma from Marine Creatures (p.3-6).

eMedicine’s Echinoderm Envenomations Treatment.

Prepare comments regarding effective treatment choices other than heat therapy. 

Assign each extension student an “Envenomation Rescue Group” to lead. Have them lead their group in discussions regarding rescue choices. Have the group decide what course of treatment they would prefer if they were envenomated!