Middle School, High School
Biosonar/Echolocation, Engineering, Climatology, Marine Biology Oceanography
Pettee Guerrero: Engineering Under the Sea
Want to design an underwater house like the settlers in Dark Life? Become an engineer! Northern Illinois University’s Pettee Guerrero, a mechanical engineer, describes her journey to becoming an engineer, her work with the Lego Aquabots programs, and current designs for underwater dwellings.
STEMfest 2013: Author Kat Falls
STEMfest 2013 presents Kat Falls, author of Dark Life and Rip Tide. She talks about her background, how she comes up with her ideas, and the crazy science behind her new book Inhuman.
In honor of Kat Falls’ visit to STEMfest, we morphed some of our visitors into human-animal hybrids. In Kat’s novel, people infected with a transgenic disease begin to take on characteristics of the animals that infected them.
Were you infected with the Inhuman virus at STEMfest? Find your manimal ID here.
Making Connections and Learning More
Creating Creatures of the Deep
Learn about the biology and physiology of living organisms in the sea or ocean. Examine interesting sea and ocean creatures and discuss why they have certain features, possibly for protection, to survive in their environment, or to catch prey. Analyze the habitats of the creatures and why their physical traits help them thrive in such an environment. Create your own unique creature of the deep and by considering scientific concepts, such as species physical and behavioral characteristics, environment/atmosphere/climate/weather, etc.
Living in a Jellyfish
The subsea residents have developed quite an elaborate existence. What type of civilizations do you imagine might exist underwater in the future? Design an underwater Home of the Future. For complete details on this activity, check out Mark Tohulka’s excellent activity “Designing an Underwater Habitat for Humans” from Florida International University’s Aquarius site.
How Long Can You Hold Your Breath?
Imagine living underwater for an extended period of time. View Florida International University’s website about the Aquarius Reef Base, a underwater research station. After investigating, write your own version of what life would be like living underwater.
Divers: Give ‘Em a Hand
Check out the hand signals used by deep sea divers. In the novel, Ty has to communicate with people underwater on a regular basis. What are some signs that he uses that are not in the list of the 20 most common? Develop and share your own signals that you think Ty might use in his subsea life.
Where Hammers Won’t Hammer: Tools to Use When You’re All Wet
In Dark Life, many different types of tools are used underwater – some are very traditional, while others are less so. Design a new tool that undersea inhabitants might use to defend themselves against some of the dangerous predators that live in the ocean. Be sure to explain the scientific principles that drove the design of your tool.
It’s Getting Hot in Here: Global Warming and Our Changing Planet
There is no doubt that Global Warming is changing the face of the planet. Read these articles on the impact of global warming on the coastline of the U.S., and then decide whether or not you believe the Topside scenario is a possibility. Be sure to reference factual information in your argument.
In Dark Life, several of the children born subsea have gained what they refer to as “Dark Gifts.” If you were born subsea, what Dark Gift do you think you would develop to help you survive?
We find out in the novel Dark Life that Ty has known about his sister’s Dark Gift for quite some time, but we never find out how he first discovered her gift. Write the account of when Ty finds out about Zoe’s gift for the very first time.
Gemma is driven to live in a boarding home after life Topside has deteriorated due to Global Warming. What do you think life is like for those Topside. Imagine the day in the life of someone living above ground during Gemma’s time.
Additional Lesson Plans
Find additional lesson plans and discussion questions from Scholastic.com.
Read-a-Likes and Informational Texts!
- Careers in Focus: Oceanography by Ferguson Publishing
- Investigating Earth’s Oceans by Michael Anderson
- Marine Biologist by William Thomas
- Ocean and Sea by Steve Parker
- Ocean Outpost by Erik Seedhouse
- Weird Sea Creatures by Erich Hoyt
For schools and teachers, check out Follett’s website to find these books.
Video Discussion Guide
Watch the videos and then use these questions to facilitate classroom discussions about the topics presented.
Kat Falls is the author of Dark Life and Inhuman. Kat writes mostly in the realm of science fiction and calls the genre of her stories, “underwater westerns”. Kat grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland where she attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and went on to get her MFA at Northwestern University in Easton, Illinois where she now teaches. To find out more about Kat Falls, visit her website at katfalls.com