Polar bear. In Canada, the polar bear is found from the High Arctic south to Hudson Bay's southern reaches.

Canada is one of five “polar bear nations,” along with the United States (Alaska), Russia, Denmark (Greenland) and Norway. While the polar bear population worldwide is estimated to be between 20,000 and 25,000, approximately 13,000 to 15,000 live in Canada.

Canadian Geographic

© 2010, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.


Biology - Polar bear. Polar bears cuddling together in the Arctic snow.

Scientific name: Ursus maritimus Average weight: 400 kg–600 kg (male) 150 kg–250 kg (female) Average length: 2.4 m–2.6 m (female smaller than male) Average lifespan: 24 years (male) 28 years (female) Biology The polar bear’s Latin name, Ursus maritimus, means “sea bear.” It is the only bear considered a marine mammal, because it depends upon the marine environment for survival. It has large canine teeth and grinding surfaces on its cheek teeth.

iStockphoto/JohnPitcher

© 2010, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.


Climate change. The sun bakes an icy Alberta landscape and glaciers are melting more quickly than before.

Climate change refers to distinct and sizable changes in climate patterns over a period of at least a decade. It has taken place throughout the Earth’s history and includes periods of warm temperatures and ice ages. The term “global warming” is less accurate, since it addresses only the heating of the planet and not the cooling. The accelerated rate at which climate change is occurring and the inability of many organisms to adapt to the rapidly changing environment is cause for concern.

iStockphoto/PetertenBroecke

© 2010, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.


It’s Not as Easy as Black or White

Lesson Overview
In this lesson students will explore the effects of the polar bear tourism industry and the resultant change in habitat by engaging in a multi-sided debate.

Grade Level
Grade 10

Time Required
Two 60 minute periods

Curriculum Connection (Province/Territory and course)
Manitoba – Social Studies (Grade 10) Geographic Issues of the 21st Century

Link to the Return to the Wild Virtual Exhibition
www.canadiangeographic.ca/vmc

Additional Resources, Materials and Equipment Required
• Canadian Geographic Animal Facts: Polar Bear http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/kids/animal-facts/pdf/polar_bear.pdf. one copy Read More
It’s Not as Easy as Black or White

Lesson Overview
In this lesson students will explore the effects of the polar bear tourism industry and the resultant change in habitat by engaging in a multi-sided debate.

Grade Level
Grade 10

Time Required
Two 60 minute periods

Curriculum Connection (Province/Territory and course)
Manitoba – Social Studies (Grade 10) Geographic Issues of the 21st Century

Link to the Return to the Wild Virtual Exhibition
www.canadiangeographic.ca/vmc

Additional Resources, Materials and Equipment Required
• Canadian Geographic Animal Facts: Polar Bear http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/kids/animal-facts/pdf/polar_bear.pdf. one copy to read aloud, or one per student.
• Student Activity Worksheet (attached) – 1 per student
• Assessing Active Listening Skills rubric (attached) – 1 per student
• Debate Rubric (attached) – 1 per group
• Computer lab with access to the Internet
• Data projector/screen
• You Tube video ‘Mother Polar Bear and Cubs Emerging from Den’ - BBC Planet Earth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwZH_aT0FGI

Main Objectives
• To have the students assess the positives and negatives in regards to the polar bear tourism industry.
• To have the students research the issues via the Internet and produce a Power Point presentation highlighting their research in support of or against the exploitation of the polar bear
• To make the students aware of the varying positions with regard to the polar bear tourism industry
• To have the students engage in a debate based on fact-based research in order to strengthen that position.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:
• Access and navigate web sites needed to research the topic
• Identify the positives and negatives associated with polar bear tourism
• Listen to and consider differing views
• Choose a position (for or against) and debate the pros and cons of it to their peers

The Lesson

Teacher Activity/Student Activity

Introduction
Show the video of the mother polar bear and cubs emerging from their den. (Note: the video serves as an activator for the lesson and the lesson may be conducted without access to it.)
Discuss with the class what they know about the polar bear and have someone write the findings on the white board.
Ask the class if anyone has ever gone to Churchill and been on a polar bear viewing trip.
Hand out (or read aloud) the CG Kids: Animal Factsheet/polar bear. Draw students attention to this excerpt: ‘A polar bear’s territory depends upon the break-up and freezing patterns of the sea ice and the bear’s ability to travel the ice floes in search of food. If it has access to ice and seals, the polar bear won’t travel far and its territory can be very small.’ Students respond to question of what they know about the polar bear.

If someone has gone to Churchill, share what happened on the trip.

Lesson Development
Inform the students that they will be participating in a debate about the pros and cons concerning an increase in polar bear based tourism to Churchill.
Ask students to group themselves into four equal (if possible) sized groups. Have one student from each group pick a [hypothetical] position from a hat:
• “Save the Polar Bear Association”
• local Inuit hunting group
• Churchill Chamber of Commerce
• Churchill mayor and town council.

Hand out copies of the Student Activity Worksheet

Instruct the students to conduct research on the effects that tourism has on the habitat of the polar bear in the Arctic ecozone and in area of Churchill, MB.
Once they have collected their research, have them complete the Student Activity Worksheet.

Guide and assist students when necessary.

Students group themselves into four groups.
Students choose their position.
Students conduct research.
Students complete Student Activity Worksheet.
Students organize their material into a PowerPoint presentation.
Students prepare PowerPoint presentation.
Students show presentations.

Conclusion
After all presentations, students engage in a debate.

Guide and assist the class debate. Students engage in class debate; they may prefer to reshow their PowerPoint presentations in defence of their positions.

Lesson Extension
• Arrange a field trip to Churchill to see the polar bears in their environment.
• Invite a guest speaker (environmentalist/government representative/Aboriginal elder) to make a presentation on polar bears.
Assessment of Student Learning
Use the Assessing Active Listening Skills rubric and Debate Rubric to assess whether or not students have achieved the outcomes above.

Further Reading
Polar Bear Tracker - http://wwf.ca/
Conservation of Polar Bears in Canada - http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=91409342-1&news=18E4D45A-CB74-41EE-B1A4-DFCCFF4B8173
Canadian Wildlife Federation - http://www.cwf-fcf.org/en/search/search.jsp
Canadian Geographic. ‘Churchill’s visiting bears: Tourists come in more than just the two-legged variety in Northern Manitoba’ - http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/magazine/nd03/indepth/tourism.asp
Town of Churchill - http://www.churchill.ca/

Link to Canadian National Standards for Geography
Essential Elements
# 2 - Places and Regions
• Physical and human processes shape places and regions
• Changes in places and regions over time
• Critical issues and problems of places and regions
# 5 - Environment and Society
• Global effects on human modification of the environment
• Global effects on the human environment by changes in the physical environment
• Use and sustainability of resources
• Environmental issues
Geographic Skills
#1 – Asking geographic questions
• Plan and organize a geographic research project
#2 – Acquiring Geographic Information
• Systematically locate and gather geographic information from a variety if primary and secondary resources
# 3 – Organizing Geographic Information
• Use a variety of media to develop and organize integrated summaries of geographic information
# 5 – Answering Geographic Questions
• Formulate valid generalizations from the results of various kinds of geographic inquiry
• Evaluate the answers to geographic inquiry


It’s Not as Easy as Black or White

Student Activity Worksheet

The town of Churchill, Manitoba, currently has a population of 1,000 and is located on the shores of Hudson Bay. People love to visit Churchill to watch the polar bears and go on polar bear excursions. The Mayor of Churchill is trying drum up more tourism in the area by offering more access to the polar bear population. This is very exciting for the businesses in Churchill, who are represented by the Churchill Chamber of Commerce. However, there are two groups in the community who do not believe that more tourism is required: “Save the Polar Bear Foundation” and the local Inuit population.
The situation has reached a standstill. At the same time, representatives from the Province of Manitoba’s Department of Conservation have come to town to offer a seminar for potential business owners interested in guiding. The seminar has turned into an impromptu community forum with the above-listed interests being presented. Should there be an increase in polar-bear tourism in Churchill?

INSTRUCTIONS:

Step 1: As a group, conduct research to determine the present-day state of the polar bear habit in the Arctic ecozone and around Churchill, Manitoba.

Part 2: Assume the role of your position and development your argument for or against an increase in polar bear based tourism in Churchill.

Part 3: Organize your findings on a chart.

Issue: Should the town of Churchill, Manitoba, permit an increase in the number of tourists who come to view the local population of polar bears?
Our position on polar bear tourism:




Support Statements:

















Concluding Statement:






Part 4: Based on your research and your chart above, prepare your PowerPoint presentation.
Part 5: Engage in the debate!


ASSESSING ACTIVE LISTENING SKILLS

Active Listening Skills and Strategies
Students’ names 
Check the observed behaviours
Demonstrates attentiveness:
• looks at speaker
• thinks about and tries to understand what the speaker is saying
• controls personal activity level
• encourages the presenter with non-verbal cues (nodding, smiling)
Shows appreciation for others’ ideas
Recalls relevant information
Clarifies ideas
Provides feedback
Asks relevant questions












DEBATE RUBRIC
Score
Level 4 3 2 1
Addresses
Issues Always addresses
topic Usually addresses topic Rarely addresses topic Did not address topic
Support with Facts Uses many facts
that support topic Uses some facts that support topic Uses few facts that support topic Does not use facts that support topic
Persuasiveness Arguments clear and convincing Arguments are sometimes clear and convincing Arguments are rarely clear and convincing Arguments are never clear and convincing
Teamwork Used team member effectively
Equal timing One member does the talking 75% of the time One member does the talking 100% of the time No one talks
Organization Electrifies audience in opening statement
Closure convinces audience Grabs attention
Brings closure to the debate Introduces topic and brings some closure to the debate Does not introduce topic; no closure
TOTAL __________

© 2010, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

To have the students assess the positives and negatives in regards to the polar bear tourism industry. To have the students assess the positives and negatives in regards to the polar bear tourism industry.

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