Coral reefs are bleaching due to climate change. Students investigate why the coral is bleaching & how to differentiate between healthy coral and bleached coral.

As the climate is changing, coral reefs, one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, are feeling the effects. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), between 2014 and 2017 around 75% of the world’s tropical coral reefs experienced heat-stress severe enough to trigger bleaching. This lesson will teach students what corals are, their life cycle, what coral bleaching is, and why this matters.

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Ashley Smith-Gibbons, Gina Disteldorf, Tautasi Falanai, Nancy FitzGerald, Melanie Rosenfelder

Next Generation Science Standards

Crosscutting Concepts
  • Cause and effect
  • Stability and change
Core Ideas
  • LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
  • ESS3.D: Global Climate Change
  • Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Ocean Literacy Fundamental Concepts

  • 5.A: Ocean life ranges in size from the smallest virus to the largest animal that has lived on Earth, the blue whale.
  • 6.B: From the ocean we get foods, medicines, and mineral and energy resources. In addition, it provides jobs, supports our nation’s economy, serves as a highway for transportation of goods and people, and plays a role in national security.