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Generation Ocean: Coral Reefs

Science [Middle & High School]

A flexible set of activities and lesson plans introducing coral reef science and the methods scientists are currently using to study and conserve coral reefs. Activities employ real world coral reef data sets and publications in an accessible way that enables students to become the observers, researchers, and scientific communicators addressing topics like biodiversity, species interdependence, population interactions, climate and human impacts on the environment.

Activities in Unit

Activity 1: How Scientists Study Coral Reefs – ENGAGE

Students use 360 film to take a virtual field trip alongside coral reef scientists. They visit and learn about the research being performed by scientists in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and laboratories at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and University of Miami.

Duration: ~20 min

Activity Details

Activity 2: Coral Anatomy – EXPLORE

Students perform self-guided research on coral anatomy and create a guidebook to key anatomical features of a coral polyp. Through this process, students learn about the symbiotic relationship corals have with microscopic algae called zooxanthellae.

Duration: 10 – 40 min

Activity Details

Activity 3: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – EXPLAIN

Students examine and interpret photo-mosaic imagery from Cheeca Rocks reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Using their background knowledge and observations from these images, they work to identify the nature and causes of change over time on coral reefs.

Duration: ~20 min

Activity Details

Activity 4: Examine the Literature – EXPLAIN

Class led reading and discussion of a peer-reviewed journal article pertaining to the Cheeca Rocks reef site and data featured in the Generation Ocean: Coral Reefs 360 film and Activity 3. Enables students to verify, explain, and interpret the observations made in the review of photo-mosaic imagery.

Duration: ~40 min

Activity Details

Activity 5: The Experts Weigh In – ELABORATE

Arrange for an in person or virtual/video-based (e.g. Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts) conversation with a coral reef expert to better understand the life of a coral scientist, the current state of coral reefs, and the work being done to conserve them.

Duration: ~30 min

Activity Details

Activity 6: Share your Findings – EVALUATE

::Coming Soon::


Activity Details

Duration: 50 – 120 min

Education Standards

Next Generation Science Standards

MS-LS2-1: Analyze & interpret data to provide evidence for effects of resource availability on organisms & populations of organisms in an ecosystem.

MS-LS2-4: Construct an argument by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.

MS-ESS3-5: Ask questions to clarify evidence of factors that have caused the rise in global temps over past century.

Next Generation Sunshine State Standards

SC.7.L.17.3: Describe and investigate various limiting factors in local ecosystem & their impact on native populations, including food, shelter, water, space, disease, parasitism, predation & nesting sites. (Recognize that certain environmental factors limit size of a population).

SC.7.E.6.6: Identify impact that humans have had on Earth, such as air & water quality. (Identify sources & examples of water pollution & recognize that water cycle carries pollution to many places).

Ocean Literacy Principles

#5: The ocean supports a great diversity of life & ecosystems.

#6: The ocean & humans are inextricably interconnected.

Generation Ocean: Coral Reefs Partners

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