Coral Reef: Structure, Symbiosis and Conservation
© Ron De Cloux
We have Bilingual Educators! Let us know if any students or chaperones in your class might benefit from activities taught in: Cantonese, Mandarin, or Spanish.
By the end of this program students will be able to:
- obtain information from specimens by scientifically sketch objects
- use a model to explore the ecological interactions of a coral reef ecosystem
- identify cause and effect relationships of human impacts on ecosystems (both beneficial and harmful)
How are humans connected to the organisms and ecosystems around the world? In what ways can we humans care for them whether or not we are scientists? In this program students take on the role of being a marine biologist who studies hard corals and how these organisms thrive and survive within their ecosystems. Through observing and sketching specimens students develop scientific questions. To help answer some of those questions students participate in a role-playing to explore the relationships in the coral reef ecosystem. The skit sets-up the interactive model for students to explore how humans can cause environmental changes in the ecosystem and what those effects have on corals and their inhabitants.
Through facilitated discussion the class explores a major cause of habitat destruction: ocean acidification. Students then brainstorm ways they can positively affect ecosystems by thinking about ways to minimize impacts of ocean acidification on coral reef ecosystems.
This field trip program compliments the FOSS Curriculum: Living Systems. We recommend the field trip take place in the middle or at the end of your unit.
You may also choose to use some of our lessons to connect students learning in the classroom to their museum experiences.
Science and Engineering Practices
- Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information: Communicate scientific information in written formats, including various forms of media.
- Developing and Using Models: Use models to describe and predict phenomena. Use a model to test interactions concerning the functioning of a natural system.
Disciplinary Core Idea
- 5-LS2.A Interdependent Relationships of Ecosystems: Organisms can survive only in environments in which their particular needs are met. A healthy ecosystem is one in which multiple species of different types are each able to meet their needs in a relatively stable web of life.
- 5-ESS3.C Human Impacts on Earth Systems: Human activities in agriculture, industry and everyday life have had major effects on the ocean. But individuals and communities are doing things to help protect Earth’s resources and environments.
- Systems and System Models: A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions.
- Cause and effect: Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.
Related Performance Expectations
This activity or unit is just one of many that could help prepare your students to perform the following hypothetical tasks that demonstrate their understanding:
- Grade 5-LS2-1: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.
- Grade 5-ESS3-1: Obtain and combine information about the ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
- 3a. Students know ecosystems can be characterized by their living and nonliving components.
- 3b. Students know that in any particular environment, some kinds of plants and animals survive well, some survive less well, and some
cannot survive at all.
- 2f. Students know plants use carbon dioxide (CO2) and energy from sunlight to build molecules of sugar and release oxygen.