Bioluminescence- Sparkle in the Ocean!

Bioluminescence- Sparkle in the Ocean!

Bioluminescence-“Sparkle” in the Ocean!


Have you ever wondered why animals glow in the ocean? How does this benefit their survival? This unit will lead students through an introduction to bioluminescence with a beginning presentation, webquest, research, discussion, and Vine assessment. Students will then utilize near real-time data and analyze various articles to demonstrate claims and evidenceregarding bioluminescence. Finally, students will research specific organisms to gain a deeper understanding of bioluminescence and finish with a creative writing sample. Throughout this unit students will create multiple technology rich projects to prove their knowledge of this “sparkle” in the ocean!

TAGS: Bioluminescence, Vine, Infographic, NGSS, Mosquito (Bioluminescent) Bay

Key Concepts

LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems

Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors. (MS-LS2-1)

LS4.C: Adaptation

Adaptation by natural selection acting over generations is one important process by which species change over time in response to changes in environmental conditions. Traits that support successful survival and reproduction in the new environment become more common; those that do not become less common. Thus, the distribution of traits in a population changes. (MS-LS4-6)


  • Observe and identify the causes and effects of bioluminescence in ocean organisms.
  • Recordinformation about bioluminescence and how it functions to help animals survive.
  • Demonstratea clear understanding of bioluminescence and how animals interact in an ecosystem using this unique feature.
  • Communicate results by creating a 6 second Vine video demonstrating how animals utilize bioluminescence to survive.


  • Bioluminescence Introduction PowerPoint/Videos
  • Bioluminescence Webquest Worksheet
  • Computers for each student or group of students
  • Access to a Vine account…possibly a classroom account AND 1 Smartphone per group.
  • Vine Worksheet
  • Basic materials for creating a Vine: paper (computer and construction), colored pencils, rulers, scissors, glue, markers, etc.)


  1. Have you ever wondered why animals glow in the ocean? How does this benefit their survival? Students will begin with discussing these questions and watching a short presentation and videos showing bioluminescence while they take notes in their notebook.
  2. After the beginning presentation, the webquest will be explained and handed out. Their goal is to use the website to gain a better idea of bioluminescence, how organisms interact with their environment using this adaptation, and how it helps organisms survive in the oceans.
  3. Once the webquest is completed, students will tape this in their notebooks and prepare for researching the functions of organisms that use this adaptation to survive.
  4. Using the Vine assignment sheet, students will research the bioluminescence functions in organisms and then create a rough draft of a six second Vine video. The video will show an offense or defense function incorporating bioluminescence and why animals have adapted to demonstrate this unique trait.
  5. Video viewing and discussion will end the lesson as students share their Vine with the class!
  6. The next lesson will delve into analyzing why bioluminescence has disappeared in some parts of the world by analyzing near-real-time data and articles to find claims and evidence supporting this issue.
  7. Extensions: Have students make another Vine demonstrating a different bioluminescence function in an ocean organism.


  • Performance—Students will complete a webquest and Vine video demonstrating how animals interact in an ecosystem and utilize the adaptation of bioluminescence to help survive.
  • Product—Students will produce a Vine video to show one function of bioluminescence (offense or defense) and how it helps animals to survive and pass on their traits to the next generation.

Additional Resources

The Bioluminescence Web Page

Ocean Research and Conservation Association

Bioluminescence in the Deep Ocean

Steve Haddock’s Presentation


Ocean Explorer