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Coral Bleaching in the Caribbean
http://mynasadata.larc.nasa.gov/lesson-plans/?page_id=474?&passid=51

Rex Roettger, NASA - My NASA Data

In this activity, students examine NASA satellite data to determine if sea surface temperature has reached a point that would cause coral bleaching in the Caribbean.

Activity takes about one 50-minute class period. Computer access is necessary.

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Climate Literacy
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Individual organisms survive within specific ranges of temperature, precipitation, humidity, and sunlight. Organisms exposed to climate conditions outside their normal range must adapt or migrate, or they will perish.
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Changes in climate conditions can affect the health and function of ecosystems and the survival of entire species. The distribution patterns of fossils show evidence of gradual as well as abrupt extinctions related to climate change in the past.
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Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:A) Organisms, populations, and communities
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A) Organisms, populations, and communities.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
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C) Systems and connections.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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The world contains a wide diversity of physical conditions, which creates a wide variety of environments: freshwater, marine, forest, desert, grassland, mountain, and others. In any particular environment, the growth and survival of organisms depend on the physical conditions
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Changes in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms and entire species.
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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • It may be helpful to extend the scope of this activity and allow students to explore coral bleaching worldwide.
  • Suggestion to start the lesson: Let students explore where coral reefs are as an introduction. The activity assumes that students know where coral reefs are in the Caribbean.
  • The educator will have to help students draw the connection between coral bleaching,sea surface temperature, and global warming; this is only addressed in the extension activity but should definitely be addressed in the lesson.

About the Science

  • Students use real data, although it is from 2005. The links do not allow examination of more up-to-date data. Educator might have to supplement the activity with more recent data.
  • Activity shows a simplistic relationship between coral bleaching and sea surface temperatures.
  • Suggested additional resources for background info for students - http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/index.html. This will help to expand a more accurate understanding of the relationship between coral bleaching and sea surface temperature.
  • The activity uses a general case for temperature threshold for coral bleaching (30 degrees) rather than the more accurate degree heating weeks. This term should also be introduced by the educator.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students can choose the location to study.
  • Students analyze their own graphs to draw conclusions about coral bleaching.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • All necessary materials are included and easily accessible.

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