NOAA Games arrow Quest to Nest arrow For Educators

For Educators

all chracters from the game on the beach

The beach with all game characters present

Topics for discussion

a. The complexity of decision making, passing laws, dynamics involving stakeholders

b. Extinction: If a single marine species becomes extinct, the diversity of life in our oceans is forever changed. 

To become extinct is to cease to exist.  In Quest to Nest, the topic of extinction is raised indirectly through the concept of population decline.  The population of the loggerhead turtle is declining and the species has been listed at threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act.  Population decline of loggerheads is due to a variety of factors, including the degradation of nesting beaches and accidental capture during fishing operations.  Both topics are addressed in the game in the fishing, turtle, and environmentalist games.

c. Stewardship/Conservation:
Active stewardship of beaches and oceans is critical to the survival of loggerhead turtles.  Students should understand that their actions on land affect the health of beaches and the ocean, the habitat of the loggerhead turtle.  They can take direct action on land (see Personal Connection) and work to help the ocean environment.  The benefits of clean beaches are highlighted in the turtle and environmentalist mini-games in Quest to Nest.

d. Resource Extraction/Economics (Fishing): 
In 2008, the per capita seafood consumption in the United States was approximately 16 pounds.  The demand for seafood has increased steadily since 1909, except for the years of the Great Depression and World War II.  Fishing methods have become more effective and efficient at removing fish and shellfish from the ocean, but have also become more effective as reducing accidental catch of protected marine species, such as the loggerhead turtle.  This is highlighted in Quest to Nest through the choice of improved fishing gear in the fishing game.  No gear is perfect and will catch some turtles, but fishermen and scientists are working together to continually make improvements to fishing gear.


e. Reproduction:
Reproduction is a characteristic of all living organisms.  No individual organism lives forever, therefore reproduction is essential to the continuation of every species.  That is why it essential for sea turtles to successfully reach their natal beaches and lay their eggs on beaches free of human disturbance (non-natural lighting, trash, beach equipment, human presence, human pets).  Protection at sea, highlighted in Quest to Nest via improved fishing gear choices, is also essential for sea turtles.  The death of a female sea turtle reduces the likelihood of survival of the species because that turtle cannot lay eggs.

f. Predator/Prey Relationships and Adaptation:
All animals are either predator or prey.  Predator and prey evolve together. The prey is part of the predator's environment.  The predator dies if it does not get food, so it evolves in ways that make it more efficient in catching and eating the prey.  Likewise, the predator is part of the prey's environment.  The prey dies if it is eaten by the predator, so it evolves to avoid being eaten.  In the case of Quest to Nest, the predator/prey relationship is demonstrated by the food chain, with the plankton being the base of the chain and the shark being the apex predator.  The clam eats the plankton, but has developed a hard shell for protection.  The whelk is able to get past the clamshell and eat the clam.  It has also grown a hard shell to protect it from the loggerhead turtle.  The loggerhead has developed strong jaws to enable it to eat the whelk.  The turtle has a hard shell to protect it from the shark, leaving only the fins vulnerable to attack.  The shark has developed numerous adaptations to allow it to catch (efficient swimming ability) and eat (strong jaws and sharp teeth) its prey. 

g. Food Chain:
In any ecosystem, living things are linked together by what they eat.  Organisms depend on each other for nourishment to survive, and this joins them together in a food chain.  When any producer or consumer in a food chain is removed, another producer or consumer fills the gap and may unbalance the food chain.  In the ocean ecosystem there are many different food chains overlapping and interconnecting to form food webs.  Every species in the ocean is vital to the ocean food web and thus must be protected.  In Quest to Nest, the food chain is depicted in the Sudoku style game with the plankton, the clam, the whelk, the turtle, and the shark as members of one of the multitude of food chains in the ocean.  Through the game, players realize all parts of the food chain must be present to have a thriving food chain.

h. Role of Regulation:
Key threats to marine species are largely due to human impacts (, including accidental capture in fishing gear, habitat destruction, pollution, and overharvest. These threats may contribute to a species' status as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.  The loggerhead turtle is listed as threatened with extinction.  Regulation is enacted to counteract the threats posed by humans and is the result of weighing a variety of competing interests.  In Quest to Nest, the politician must weigh the interests of her constituents, environmental organizations, and the resource (loggerhead sea turtles) to choose the best way to protect the beach for beachgoers, while still providing a viable nesting beach for the loggerheads.  Sea turtles cannot cross hard beach reinforcement, and they must lay their eggs far enough from the waterline that the nests will not become inundated at high tide.


Alignment to Standards

Using topics raised in the Quest to Nest game to introduce an area to be taught
(All standards cited are for grades 5-8.)

OLP - Ocean Literacy Principles
NSES - National Science Education Standards


OLP 5: Ocean supports great diversity of life and ecosystems
NSES Life Science: Diversity and adaptation of organisms


OLP 5: Ocean supports great diversity of life and ecosystems
NSES Personal and Social Perspectives: Natural Resources
Social Studies Standard: People, Places and Environments

Resource Extraction and Economics (Fishing)

OLP 6: Ocean and humans inextricably connected
NSES: Life Science: Populations and ecosystems
Social Studies Standards: Production, Distribution, and Consumption; Science, Technology and Society

Reproduction (Turtle Nesting)

OLP 5: Ocean supports great diversity of life and ecosystems
NSES: Life Science: Reproduction and Heredity


Predator/Prey Relationships and Adaptation

OLP 6: Ocean supports great diversity of life and ecosystems
NSES: Life Science: Populations and Ecosystems

Food Chain

OLP 5: Ocean supports great diversity of life and ecosystems
NSES: Life Science – Populations and Ecosystems

Role of Regulation (Politician’s Game/Fishing Game)

OLP 6: Ocean and humans inextricably connected
NSES: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives: Populations, Resources and Environments (environmental degradation), Social Studies: Individuals, Groups and Institutions