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Using Data to Identify Hot Spots and Predict Bleaching Events

Erin Bardar, LuAnn Dahlman, TERC, EarthLabs Project

In this EarthLabs activity, learners explore the concepts of coral bleaching, bleaching hot spots and degree-heating weeks. Using data products from NOAA's Coral Reef Watch, students identify bleaching hot spots and degree-heating weeks around the globe as well as in the Florida Keys' Sombrero Reef to determine the impact higher-than-normal sea surface temperatures have on coral reefs.

Activity takes about 2-3 class periods. Computer and internet access is required.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy

This Activity builds on the following concepts of Climate Literacy.

Click a topic below for supporting information, teaching ideas, and sample activities.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:A) Organisms, populations, and communities
Other materials addressing:
A) Organisms, populations, and communities.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.

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

  • Teachers may wish to create additional robust formative questions and a summative assessment.

About the Content

  • Lab activity uses published NOAA data sets and satellite imagery to identify and analyze regions of coral bleaching.
  • Students participate in making models, analyzing data, interpreting animations, and reading time-series graphs.
  • High-quality background materials and references are provided for both the teacher and the students.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The text and background descriptions for the activity are generally all strong. I like that the activity uses real data and images from NOAA. I like the hotlink options to show how to interpret the map scales.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students work in small groups, which may improve their team-work skills.
  • Students need to be able to read graphs and interpret keyed satellite images.
  • To successfully complete the modeling activity in Part A, students should complete Lab2 (http://serc.carleton.edu/earthlabs/corals/2.html) or have prior knowledge of coral physiology.
  • It is recommended that the teacher becomes familiar with the site and the tools used on the site prior to teaching this lab.
  • "Stop and Think" questions are posed for formative assessment, but many educators will want to create additional questions to assess learning gains.
  • Teachers may wish to ask students to compare and contrast coral bleaching to other coral diseases, with regard to causation, impacts, and minimizing damages.
  • A summative assessment strategy could require learners to pull together and summarize the data they have examined, perhaps from a difference location than the ones provided.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Student groups will need computer access to complete the activity.
  • Teachers should spend some time (on the order of ~2 hrs) familiarizing themselves with the site and tools prior to using this lab with students.
Entered the Collection: December 2013 Last Reviewed: September 2016

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