In this activity, students will answer questions while watching the video Is the Answer to Overfishing… Algae? from the Ingenious series produced by the American Chemical Society. Each episode investigates a different topic related to how leading-edge chemistry is taking on the world’s most urgent issues to advance everyone’s quality of life and secure our shared future. This episode investigates Omega-3s, the essential nutrient that humans have to get from fish. However, fish don’t make their own Omega-3s. Like humans, they must get them from an important part of their diet, algae. But with over-fishing considerations and fish-farming limitations, scientists are working to develop a new way to harvest Omega-3s to maintain stability.
By the end of this activity, students should be able to:
- Explain the relationship between ocean-fishing, farm-fishing, and over-fishing.
- Describe the challenges with farm-fishing.
- Briefly describe the importance of Omega-3s.
- Explain how and why Schizochytrium algae can be valuable to the fishing industry.
This activity supports students’ understanding of:
- Environmental Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Molecular Structure
- Functional Groups
Teacher Preparation: minimal
Lesson: 10-20 minutes
- Ingenious Video: Is the Answer to Overfishing… Algae?
- Student Handout
- Computer and projector with volume, or student device to access video
- No specific safety precautions need to be observed for this activity.
- The Ingenious video series spotlights stories from the frontlines of chemistry research and development, where passionate innovators are stepping up to confront problems like pollution, overfishing, sustainability and personal safety.
- This video, Is the Answer to Overfishing… Algae?, investigates Omega-3s, the essential nutrient that humans have to get from fish. But many of the world’s fish species are in crisis because we’ve taken too many of them from the ocean. So the answer is to farm more fish, right? While fish-farming relieves some pressure on the ocean’s wild species, it also contributes to the pressure, since farmed fish are fed fishmeal made from wild-caught fish. That’s because fish don’t make their own Omega-3s either. Like us, they get them from their diet. Using technology that came out of the space program, scientists have developed a way to cut out the middle-fish from the food chain and harvest Omega-3s for fishmeal directly from the source: algae.
- The running time of this video is about 7 minutes. As it is a short video and it moves quickly, you may want to show it twice, or instruct students to pause the video as needed on their own devices to ensure that they can record answers to all of the questions.
- The student questions/answers are presented in sequential order in the video.
- An answer key has also been provided for teacher reference.
- The final questions are reflection-based and might be helpful in prompting a class discussion after students have a few minutes to answer them independently.
- The AACT classroom resource library offers a wide selection of teaching resources. Below are several select resources that could be used in combination with the topics highlighted in this video.
For the Student
While watching the video, answer the following questions:
- True or False? One-fifth of the fish taken from the ocean are used to feed the fish grown on fish farms.
- What type of molecule is an Omega-3?
- True or False? The “3” in the Omega-3 name is referring to a triple bond in the molecule’s structure.
- True or False? The human body cannot make Omega-3s.
- True or False? Fish make Omega-3s.
- What species of fish are commonly used as fishmeal? Why are these fish used?
- What are the “important” Omega-3s that humans need to get from fish?
- True or False? Schizochytrium algae have a unique cycle that can be controlled by scientists in order to harvest Omega-3s for fish farming.
- Briefly explain the unique cycle of Schizochytrium algae and why it is valuable for fish farming:
- True or False? Schizochytrium algae are helping scientists break the cycle of having to catch wild fish in order to feed farmed fish.
After you watch the video, reflect on the following questions:
- Can you think of any other benefits related to collecting Omega-3s from algae? Discuss your thoughts.
- What questions would you have for a scientist in this field? What more do you want to know?