Whale Cart

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In this activity, learners interact with whale artifacts such as replicas of skulls, bones, teeth, and baleen (hair-like plates that form a feeding filter). Guiding questions help learners differentiate between toothed whales and baleen whales, including what they eat, how they breathe, and how humans are connected to them. Background information is provided about many of the details of how whales survive, including hunting and pollution problems caused by humans ("Save the whales!"). This activity is written to be used in a museum or aquarium, but could be used for general background information about whales, or in conjunction with a field trip.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • All materials are housed on or within a large rolling cart
  • Large orca skull replica (mounted to the top of the cart, optional)
  • Large baleen whale upper and lower jaw model (mounted to the top of the cart, optional)
  • Bottlenose dolphin skull replica
  • Individual orca tooth replicas
  • Plates of baleen
  • Bottle of preserved krill
  • Pictures of many different baleen and toothed whales
  • Diagrams of “lunge feeding” and “echolocation”
  • Diagram of whale mouth full of baleen, open and closed if possible
  • Other diagrams or pictures of expanded baleen whale pleats, bubble netting in humpbacks, etc. may be helpful to demonstrate feeding behaviors


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
      • Classification
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Human Impact
  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Sound
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Formulating Explanations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Aquarium of the Pacific, 2009

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, NSF OCE-0731338