Kelp Activity #3

kelp bed in Glacier Bay
Kelp bed in Glacier Bay



1. Mission of Glacier Bay National Park
Share the Internet resource, Management, published by Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve at In a brief discussion, ask students to explain the mission of the park.

2. Preserving and Protecting
In the park's first outcome statement, managers pledge to ensure that the area's "Physical, biological and successional processes [will] proceed unimpaired and [will not be] negatively influenced by visitor use activities, extractive or consumptive activities, park operations or external activities."

  • What kinds of activities do students think must be prohibited in order to make good on this pledge? Explain, brainstorming "extractive or consumptive activities," park operations and "external activities."

3. Intertidal and Subtidal Zones
Share the Glacier Bay resource, "Intertidal and Subtidal Zones" of Glacier Bay, with students. What kinds of life are found in the subtidal zone? Why might it be important to protect the kelp forests found in this ecosystem of the park?


4. Imaginary Scenarios
Invite students to consider the following imaginary scenario:

As an Alaskan entrepreneur you are always looking for new opportunities for growth in your state. Members from the Kelp Industry have informed you that they think Glacier Bay's growing kelp forests would be perfect for a kelp harvest industry. You have shared this idea with many local businesses who are very excited about this possible economic venture. You have approached the National Park Service regarding this idea. You are told that this proposal for commercial kelp harvest is in direct conflict with the legal protections on Glacier Bay's kelp forests. Your congressional representatives, both in the House and in the Senate, aren't sure which side of this debate they should adopt and so they have asked you to research the industry and the threats it may pose to Glacier Bay - one of the nation's most pristine marine ecosystems.

5. Human Uses and Threats of Kelp
Divide the class into groups and distribute the Resources listed below among them. Their task is to discover the human uses for kelp, its economic potential and the consequences of opening Glacier Bay's kelp forest might pose to its marine ecosystems. After the groups have completed their research, list the following headings on the chalkboard:

  • Uses of Kelp
  • Economic Promise for the Kelp Industry
  • Threats to Kelp Forests

Ask students to help you complete each list.

Kelp Activity handout
Student Activity handout

6. Debate - Student Activity: Economic Development of Kelp Forests: What is Your Opinion?
Once the lists are complete, ask students to participate in a guided debate on the issue of developing kelp forests in US marine waters, using the Student Activity: Economic Development of Kelp Forests: What is Your Opinion?.

  • First, have students consider the opinion continuum on the Student Activity. They must determine where they stand on this continuum and write a paragraph stating their opinion, using the supporting data.
  • Next, give students a chance to share their opinions with the class in a guided debate (5–10 minutes) on the imaginary proposal before Congress. If you want, copy the continuum on the length of the chalkboard and have students share their opinions while standing in front of the number representing their stand.
  • Finally, ask students to use the information and ideas from the debate to either change or affirm their original stand. They should write a second opinion paragraph stating their opinion and the data and reasons supporting it.
  • At the end of this debate, poll the class to see where the majority stands on this issue. Would they vote to open all kelp forests to harvesting or not?

Ask students to help you complete each list.

7. Write News Article
Now, have students write a news article on the proposal, research and debate on kelp forest development. They can write as one of the following personas:

  • op-ed editor
  • political reporter covering the U.S. Congress
  • reporter for the business section of your local newspaper
  • lobbyist for or against the development of kelp forests
  • member of an organization that is either supports or opposes the proposal

Share students' news articles in a class reading or display.


8. Resources

(Recommended for advanced students)
The 1916 Organic Act created the National Parks Service. This legislation gave NPS a mandate that is seemingly impossible and quite contradictory. The apparent contradiction is contained in a single sentence of the preamble to the act. "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein [within the national parks] and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner that would leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

The questions NPS managers must answer are:
  • How do we preserve and protect and, at the same time, provide for their enjoyment?
  • What, exactly, is meant by "enjoyment?" Could extractive use of some kind be considered "enjoyment"?

Have student groups research this issue on the Internet and among local park officials. Then, have the groups share their information with their classmates in a presentation.

>>National Education Standards
Kelp Forest Curriculum

Last updated: February 13, 2018

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PO Box 140

Gustavus, AK 99826


907 697-2230

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