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Manifest Curiosity Part VIII: Discovery Learning (a.k.a. Leafy Sea Dragon)

This post is the first in a series of posts from Manifest Curiosity that details they hows, whens, and whys of Curiosity Based Learning.

Discovery Learning (a.k.a. Leafy Sea Dragon)

Discovery Learning is a four-step process that flips the entire learning experience when learning about something new. Rather than telling students they are going to learn about something and then tested to see how much of their learning they can remember and communicate on demand, students start by being asked to wonder.

For example: what if there were a creature called a leafy sea dragon? Ask your students and then, ask them to draw what they think it would look like. Next, ask them to draw another leafy sea dragon, but this time with a few details and instructions. After they have used their curiosity and creativity to create two detailed creatures, share an image of what a leafy sea dragon actually looks like. Lastly, share with the students all of the information you would like for them to know about it.

Below is an example of this process with a Leafy Sea Dragon. This process can be used with anything from animals to historical events, chemical processes, or whatever students and curious minds need to learn for any subject and any level.

Discovery Learning Example Step 1:

Discovery Learning Example Step 2:

The leafy sea dragon has a head that looks like a horse because it is a kind of seahorse. Its snout is much thinner and longer than a horse’s. It has a pectoral fin on its back near its head and a dorsal fin near its tail. Both fins are transparent and nearly invisible. The leafy sea dragon has 10-15 bony rings that surround its body and long, sharp spines that run along its back. The leafy sea dragon has 18-20 skin filaments hanging off of its head, body, and tail that look like blades of seaweed. Its color changes from shades of yellow, brown, and green depending on its diet, location, and level of stress.

(Now, using the description above, try drawing the Leafy Sea Dragon again.)

Discovery Learning Example Step 3:

Photo Credit: James Rosindell, licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0

Discovery Learning Example Step 4:

Facts about the leafy sea dragon

  • Although a close relative of the seahorse, the leafy sea dragon is much larger. It can grow to over 14 inches (35cm) long.

  • The male leafy sea dragon carries up to 250 bright, pink eggs until they are hatched. Instead of carrying them in a pouch like most seahorses, the leafy sea dragon carries the eggs on the underside of its tail.

  • The “leaves” on the leafy sea dragon are not used for swimming; they serve only as camouflage to hide it.

  • The body of a leafy sea dragon is so rigid that it does not appear to move; its movements are controlled by the tiny fins on top of its head to steer it and its dorsal fins to propel it.

  • Everyday, the leafy sea dragon slurps thousands of microscopic, shrimp-like animals for its meals.

  • The leafy sea dragon has no known predators. Several of its characteristics keep predators away: it has highly developed camouflage, it has very sharp spines on its back, and it has very little meat on its body.

  • The leafy sea dragons are only found off the southern coast of Australia in kelp, seagrass, and boulders at depths up to 150 feet (50m).

Stay Curious with Manifest Curiosity Part IX: Curiosity Q&A

Curiosity Based Learning


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