Tidepool Inquiry

Introduction—Tidepool Inquiry

Summary: These field activities introduce students of all ages to the intertidal habitats of rocky shores while safely exploring tidepools. Using guided inquiry and structured group investigation, students will observe species living in this diverse habitat to make and test hypotheses about adaptations and interactions that are occurring in the community.

Concepts to teach: Rocky shores, interactions and change, adaptations and survival, tidal cycles, community interactions, ecosystem balance.

Goals: Students will better understand the inhabitants of Oregon’s Rocky shores, by way of observation and guided exploration.

6.2L.2, 6.3S.1, 7.3S.1, 8.3S.1

Specific Objectives: By the end of this activity, students will be able to:

  1. Explore tidepools in a way that is safe for themselves and the habitat.
  2. Identify the dominant organisms in the tidepool ecosystem.
  3. Explain specific adaptations of species living in the rocky intertidal by making scientific hypothesis based on field observations.

Activity Links and Resources:


  • Students create a personal meaning map for tidepools, where they draw and label what they know about tidepools prior to the field visit. After the field visit, students add to their personal meaning maps new information that they learned from the trip. The post-trip contributions can be drawn on the same page as the pre-trip map in a different color pen, or the students may make an entirely new map from scratch. Evaluate pre- and post-trip contributions for detail and accuracy.
  • Create a food web using the animals discovered during the field experience.
  • Data sheets and pre- and post-assessment ideas available in the “How Wealthy is Your Tide Pool?” lesson from Yaquina Head