National Geographic Explorer in Residence and marine biologist Dr. Enric Sala is committed to protecting the ocean. In fact, his goal is to protect 20 of the ocean’s wildest places by 2020 through the Pristine Seas project. Enric dives beneath the earth’s surface to explore the ocean’s depths, conducts scientific experiments, and collect photographs and video to show the world. Then he meets with government officials shows them what he’s found and asks for their help in protecting the ocean. So far in his career is have published more than 120 scientific papers and helped to create 13 marine reserves.

Use the resources in this collection to prepare your students for their upcoming National Geographic Live! student matinee experience. Use the “Before the show” ideas to introduce students to Enric Sala and the topics (ocean, exploration, geography, conservation) that he will discuss during the show. Use the “After the show” ideas to extend the learning after the event has ended. 

Before the Show:

  • Have students review Enric Sala’s profile. They can also read a couple of articles on him using the links in the Explore More tab on this page.

  • Use MapMaker Interactive to explore the oceans where Enric works.

  • Have students read the “Marine Protected Areas” encyclopedic entry. Lead a class discussion about ocean conservation. After reading, ask: What are some of the possible goals of a marine protected area? What are some of the different levels of protection a marine protected area might have? What are some of the advantages or disadvantages of each level of protection?

  • Watch the video Why the Ocean Matters (2:40) to give students a glimpse at why the work Enric Sala and others like him is critical to building both a healthier ocean and a healthier planet.

  • Have students brainstorm ways they are connected to the ocean with the Ocean Connection activity (~15 minutes) and then ask them to compare the percentages of protects land with protected ocean using the Protect the Blue: Marine Protected Areas activity (~15 Minutes).

  • Enric Sala’s Pristine Seas project is working to protect 20 of the ocean’s wildest places by 2020. As a class, look at how these wild places are being protected by reading the Case Study: Galápagos Marine Reserve. Ask: How was the scientific, commercial, and recreational uses balanced in the reserve?

  • Finish up with a fun journey around the world rhyming through different protected ecosystems with The ABCs of MPAs GeoStory.

  • Provide each student with a KWL Chart. Introduce the program they will attend and, who the speaker is, and offer a brief description of the speaker’s topic(s). Have students fill out the What I Know and What I Want to Know columns of the KWL Chart. Have them fill out the What I Learned column after the show.

  • Use the graphic organizer collection to select a graphic organizer to help your students organize their questions and new knowledge before, during, and after the program. For example:

    • Download and print the T Chart. Have students label the left column with Questions I Have and the right column with Answers, and then conduct research about the speaker and their topic ahead of the program. Have students record answers to their questions during or after the program. Have students conduct research to complete any unanswered questions for homework. Have each student share a question and answer with the class.

    • Download and print the provided Five Ws Chart. Have each student bring their copy to the matinee program and take notes. Have students share and discuss their notes after the show.

After the Show:

  • Use the Explorer Comparisons worksheet and have a class discussion to help students make connections between themselves and Enric Sala. Distribute the worksheet to students before the presentation and review the directions with them. Review any terms with which they are unfamiliar with. After the presentation, have students share the notes that they took during the show. Have a class discussion about attitudes and skills and how students demonstrate them in their everyday lives. Have students record their personal examples on the worksheet.

  • Review the continents, countries, or areas that the speaker presented. Ask: What continents, countries, or areas does the speaker work in? Have younger students imagine that these places were characters in the stories that Enric Sala shared. Ask: What role did place play in Enric Sala’s story? Why was location important to the story? How did the characteristics of the place influence the story? Note: You may need to introduce the concept of place for your students before they can answer and discuss these questions.

  • Discuss and define any unfamiliar terminology that the speaker used. Ask: What vocabulary words did Enric Sala use that were new to you? Invite volunteers to write the words on the board, and have the class define them as a group using the information they learned from the speaker or through research. If desired, have students record unfamiliar terminology during the show on one-half of a T Chart. Then, have them write the definitions on the other side following this class discussion.

  • Have a class discussion about the attitudes National Geographic explorers embody. Ask: What attitudes did Enric Sala talk about today? In what ways does Enric Sala demonstrate curiosity, responsibility, empowerment, and persistence in his work? Why do you think these attitudes are important for explorers? Students can use their Five Ws Chart for reference and a graphic organizer to organize their ideas.

  • Have a whole-class brainstorm on how students can make changes or support the speakers’ work. Ask: What, if any, call to action did the speakers make? How can you implement any changes in your day-to-day life? What can we work on together as a group?


having to do with the buying and selling of goods and services.


management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.


community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.


to try or test an idea.

marine biologist

scientist who studies ocean life.

marine protected area (MPA)

area of the ocean where a government has placed limits on human activity.


part of the ocean where no fishing, hunting, drilling, or other development is allowed.


having to do with people's homes.