Some of these lessons are short webquests, while others are hands-on activities containing a link to a more detailed lesson plan. Teachers may choose to use individual lessons or the entire coral reef unit. The activities were created by a teacher, two undergraduate students, and a marine science graduate student who worked as a team with National Park Service staff in the Pacific Island Network to create this comprehensive resource on coral reefs.
Coral Reef Basics
Coral Reef Introduction: Draw a Coral Reef - Students draw a picture of a coral reef based on prior knowledge. The teacher will be able to assess what students already know about corals, algae, and the organisms that live on reefs and how the students relate to the reef. This allows the teacher to better understand student preconceptions/misconceptions about coral reefs as well as student connections to reefs.
Coral is an Animal: Polyp Pictures - Students look at close-up photos of coral polyps from a variety of species to examine coral composition. The teacher will ask the students guiding questions to try to identify what is in the pictures.
Webquest: Coral Reef Diversity - Students will access information on the web to explain the abundance and diversity of plants and animals in coral reef ecosystems.
- Answer the following: Write the names of three animals that live on a coral reef. What else besides animals live on coral reefs?
- Explore the "What Lives on a Coral Reef?" page on the coral reefs and module.
- Write the names of three types of algae or animals you read about and explain why each one likes to live on a coral reef.
Webquest: Coral Reef Food Web -Students will access information on the web to identify the food sources of animals found on a coral reef.
- Answer the following: Write the name of some animals that live on the reef. What does each animal eat? What might eat them?
- Go to the "Why are predators important page?" on the Food Web Try It page in the coral reefs and climate change module.
- After doing the on-line activity the teacher may have the each student or a group of students draw a coral reef food web including , omnivores, , algae, corals
- Answer the following question: Where do humans fit into the coral reef food web?
Webquest: Coral Reefs Around the Pacific- Students will access information on the web to describe differences and similarities between coral reefs in the Pacific Island Network of National Parks.
- Answer the following: Are all coral reefs the same? Why might we find different species in different places?
- View the “What do coral reefs look like?” page in the coral reef and climate change module.
- Write three things you learned about one of the parks.
What are Corals?
- California Academy of Sciences: Coral Polyp Activity
- Smithsonian Environmental Research Consortium: Anatomy of a Coral Activity
- NOAA Ocean Service Education: Information on corals
- EPA: What are coral reefs?
- NASA/JPL Jason Project, in conjunction with Texas A&M University: Coral Reefs – Ocean World
- International Year of the Reef
- USGS (United States Geological Survey): U.S. Coral Reefs Fact Sheet
- National Geographic: Information on Coral
- Ocean Futures Society: Coral Spawning Video
What lives on a reef?
- Hawaiian Marine Life Photography
- Guam Reef Life
- Bishop Museum: Hawaii Biological Survey
- Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument
- Reef Education Network
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium: Coral reef organisms
- Samoa and Hawaii coloring book
- PBS: Interactive Reef food web
- State of Hawaii: Hawaii's Sharks
- Kalaupapa National Historic Park
- National Park of American Samoa
- Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park
- War in the Pacific National Historic Park
Coral Reef Investigations
Webquest: What are Photoquadrats? - Students access information on the web to define and give an example of coral reefInstructions and of a research question being studied in a park.
- View the “How do we monitor coral reefs?” page and do the Photoquadrat Try-It
- Answer the following: Define monitoring. Give an example of monitoring that is being done in the coral reef national parks. Define research. Give an example of a research question being studied in the coral reef national parks.
Photoquadrats on a Transect - Students use printed photographs of real coral reef sample areas, called photoquadrats, to quantitatively assess the composition and health of a coral reef.
What type of coral monitoring and research are national parks doing?
People and Coral Reefs
Human Interactions with Coral Reefs: Village Role Playing Exercise - In traditional cultures each village or family group needed to provide all the things that its inhabitants required to survive. Traditional cultures also had rules and social roles that facilitated the correct use of resources and encouraged sustainable practices so there would always be plants and animals available for harvest in the future. In this game, the students are assigned roles in a traditional culture and work with their village to provide food, water, and shelter for everyone in the village.
35 min plus extra for reflection
Webquest: Human Uses of Coral Reefs -Students use web resources to describe traditional uses of coral reef resources, modern uses of resources, and how human action influence coral reef resources.
- First answer the following: What do you like to do on coral reefs? How is this different or the same from the way people used our reefs a long time ago?
- Now view the "How do we fish on coral reefs?" and "What are some cultural connections?" pages.
- Last, answer the following: Describe one way people used coral reefs a long time ago. Describe one way we use reefs today. Describe how the way we use reefs could harm a coral reef.
Webquest: Human Impacts on Coral Reefs - Students access information on the web to explain how human actions influence coral reef resources.
- First, answer the following: Describe how things we do on the land can affect the health of the coral reefs (list three examples).
- View the "How are land and sea connected?" page on the coral reefs and climate change module and do the Land-Sea Connection Try-It.
- Complete the following task: Write three things land-based activities that can affect coral reefs and explain how each activity can make a reef unhealthy.
Webquest: Corals and Climate Change - Students use web resources to define climate change, give examples of how climate change impacts coral reefs, and describe sources of carbon dioxide and how it can be reduced.
- First answer the following: Have you heard of climate change or green house gasses? Explain how these could affect the health of coral reefs.
- View "What is climate change?" and do the Climate Change Try-It.
- Complete the following tasks: Define climate change. Give an example of how climate change impacts coral reefs. Describe two sources of carbon dioxide and explain how each can be reduced.
- As CO2 concentration in the the atmosphere increases, so does its concentration in the ocean. This increased concentration of dissolved CO2 in the water results in elevated ocean acidity. Students use chalk (which simulates coral skeleton) and vinegar (which simulates acidic ocean water) to explore how acid affects calcium carbonate—the basis of coral skeletons.
Demonstration 5 min; extension activity two 45 minute class periods
What are the traditional and modern uses of coral reefs?
- NOAA: Samoa Traditional Fishing
- Hawaii Division of Resources
- Guam Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources
- American Samoa Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary
How are people culturally connected to corals?
How are corals effected by climate change?
- NOAA: What is Coral ?
- National Resources Defense Council: Ocean acidification
- Coral Reefs: A resilience toolkit module
How can you help coral reefs?
- PBS Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures: Get Involved: What can YOU do?
- City and County of Honolulu: Hazardous waste prevention
- Coral Reef Alliance
- Save Our Seas
Summative Assessment: Coral Reef Poster Project
To test student knowledge and depth of understanding of coral reefs, students synthesize information from the Coral Reefs and Climate Change Unit Plan by creating a poster about coral reefs.
Objectives: Students will be able to explain why coral reefs are important. Students will be able to explain how human actions can harm reefs. Students will give examples of ways people can take care of reefs.
Time: Two class periods
Have students create a 11x17 poster about coral reefs. The poster should have three parts:
- It should show in pictures and words why coral reefs are important.
- It should show in pictures and words at least two examples of how human actions can harm reefs.
- It should show in pictures and words at least three ways people can take care of reefs.
The teacher should grade the poster based on the accuracy of the information in each of the three sections. The teacher can also grade for neatness of drawings, clarity of handwriting, correct spelling, etc.
Additional Coral Curriculum Resources
- Northwestern Hawaii Multi-Agenci Education Projet: Navigating Change
- Project Aloha ʻĀina, a Teacher's Guide to the Ahupuaʻa
- Bridge: Free teacher-approved marine education resources
- NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program: Curricula and lesson plans
- Reef Videos
- University of Exeter: Free video clips of coral reefs available for download
- PBS: Survival: Coral Reef Connections
- Macgillivray Freeman’s Coral Reef Adventure Teacher’s Guide
- National Park Service: Interactive global warming activity