Orca Search home page


This project originated with the author's interest in the plight of Keiko the killer whale, the star of the movie, Free Willy, who was rescued from a very unhealthy environment in Mexico and then moved to a rehabilitation facility in Oregon. Keiko was recently moved to a sea pen in his native waters in Iceland.

Keiko's story has generated a great deal of interest in whales and other ocean creatures, especially those that are held in captivity. This Web site has been designed to use the subject of killer whales to encourage high-order thinking and to begin to understand about ocean communities.


Orca Search is a Web-based teaching unit designed for 4th through 6th grade students who are

  • interested in information abut killer whales, and
  • interested in learning about basic research skills.

This web site can be used as an online classroom teaching unit or as an independent study. It is assumed that students using this site will have some experience with computer keyboarding and also some familiarity with Internet searching (e.g., links, scrolling, navigation, etc.). The Orca Search Web Site could be called controlled research online. Students will have the opportunity to "research" killer whales by linking to other web sites that contain the information requested. Students are also encouraged to use their school media center or local library if they choose.


The Orca Search Web Site contains the following pages:

  • Orca Search Home Page
    Welcome and introduction to the site.

  • Step 1: Research Tools
    Learning about research scientists and creating a research tool.

  • Step 2: Discovering Orcas
    Collecting basic information about orcas.

  • Step 3: Investigating Orcas
    Digging deeper for more information about orcas.

  • Step 4: Orcas in Captivity
    Learning about whales in captivity and making a decision about feelings.

  • Step 5: Research Report
    Putting what has been learned on paper.

Students will be able to:

  • create and use a research log.
  • develop and practice basic research skills by locating, utilizing and organizing online information about killer whales.
  • learn to document online information resources.
  • use critical thinking skills to support answers to difficult questions.


  • computer workstation for each student with Internet access to Orca Search in the Internet Public Library Youth Division --- http://www.ipl.org/youth/orca/ A single computer workstation with data projection equipment could be used for classroom unit teaching.
  • materials to create a "research log" (see Step 1)
  • chalkboard and/or newsprint with markers would be appropriate for group discussions.

Evaluation of this teaching unit, whether used as an independent research project or a classroom unit, could be judged by the accuracy and completeness of the students' research log and research report after working through the entire site.


There are also many other books, videos, sound recordings and magazine articles that include information about killer whales and can be found in your school or local libraries. Be creative and have fun!

Back to the Orca Search home page

This resource originally created by Lucy M. Schiller