National Geographic Explorer Thomas Peschak is a photographer who is dedicated to documenting the beauty and fragility of the world’s oceans, islands, and coasts. He trained as a marine biologist but embraced photojournalism when he realized his photographs could have greater conservation impact than his scientific research. Through Thomas’s lens, students will learn to value wildlife in the ocean and along the coasts of our world.

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 Thomas Peschak and the topics (water, ocean life, photography, conservation, geography) 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 Thomas Peschak’s biography using the links in the Explore More tab on this page.

  • Download and print the provided maps of Peru and New Zealand, or use the MapMaker Interactive, to explore the areas where Thomas works.

  • Have students read the conservation encyclopedic entry. Lead a class discussion about different kinds of conservation techniques. After reading, ask: How are different types of conservation connected to one another? Can conservation be good and bad?

  • Ask students to explore the Marine Megafauna infographic. Ask them to identify the largest animal listed and help them understand the size through comparison to objects they are more familiar with like a sports field or school bus. If you have time take them to a large space, such as a gym or a parking lot,  and have them measure out how long each creature is to compare side by side using tape or chalk to mark each animal.

  • Watch the Sharks and Shorelines (3:56) video to gain a better understanding of how predators are important to the balance of coastal ecosystems or Why the Ocean Matters (2:40) to better understand how humans rely on the sea.

  • Help students understand how the ocean is connected to other systems and human with these activities: Ocean Connections, Our Interconnected Ocean. Then dive into marine protected areas with one of these activities: Protect the Blue--Marine Protected Areas or Create a Marine Protected Area.  

  • After the activity, show students some of Thomas Peschak’s most recent work with the link to his website in the Explore More tab.

  • 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 Thomas Peschak. Distribute the worksheet to students before the presentation and review the directions with them. Review any terms with which that 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 Thomas Peschak shared. Ask: What role did place play in Thomas Peschak’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 Thomas Peschak 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 Thomas Peschak talk about today? In what ways does Thomas Peschak 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?


scientist who studies living organisms.


edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.


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


to sincerely devote time and effort to something.


to keep track of.


delicate or easily broken.


environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.


to influence or have an effect on something.


body of land surrounded by water.

marine biologist

scientist who studies ocean life.


large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.


scientific observations and investigation into a subject, usually following the scientific method: observation, hypothesis, prediction, experimentation, analysis, and conclusion.


organisms living in a natural environment.