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Investigating Coral Bleaching Using Real Data
https://dataintheclassroom.noaa.gov/content/coral-bleaching

Carolyn Joyce, Viola Todd, NOOA Ocean Data Education (NODE) Project

This sequence of activities using real-world data to explain the importance of coral reefs and the relationship of coral reef health to the surrounding environment. Unit includes five activities.

Instructional unit takes about twelve 45-minute class periods to complete all 5 activities.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Performance Expectations, 4 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 6 Cross Cutting Concepts, 8 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 2 Performance Expectations, 4 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 7 Cross Cutting Concepts, 7 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Climate impacts ecosystems and past species extinctions
About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3c
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b
Evidence shows that human-caused global warming have impacted ecosystem resulting in reduced biodiversity and ecological resilience
About Teaching Principle 6
Other materials addressing 6d
Increased acidity of oceans and negative impacts on food chain due to increasing carbon dioxide levels
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7d

Energy Literacy

Humans live within Earth's ecosystems.
Other materials addressing:
3.6 Humans live within Earth's ecosystems..

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

  • Activities could be conducted individually or in groups, depending on extent of access to computers.
  • Educators could complete the online computer portion as an entire class if internet/computer access is limited.
  • Although 5 activities are provided, educator could choose to use selected activities depending on the students' prerequisite knowledge and available time.
  • Teacher's guide is very robust and should be reviewed carefully before doing the activities with students.

About the Science

  • In this series of activities, students are guided through the use of NOAA data (sea surface temperature and SST anomalies, coral bleaching hotspots, and degree heating weeks) to understand how scientists monitor coral bleaching events in order to determine what is happening to the health of coral reefs in the world's oceans.
  • Explains how the duration and intensity of sea surface temperature affects coral reef health as well as how scientists track and measure the duration and intensity of sea surface temperatures.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The information presented here is of strong interest to the public, and the visuals, including weather maps, are effective in conveying information. The information is up to date and the experts have impressive and appropriate credentials.

About the Pedagogy

  • Provides a downloadable step-by-step teacher's guide with clear student objectives and is aligned to Next Generation Science Standards.
  • The teacher's guide explains how each activity level is designed around NGSS Standards and Climate Literacy standards.
  • Provides thorough science background and ideas for evaluation for each activity.
  • Provides links to other related NOAA resource for further exploration or background information on coral reefs.
  • Activity progresses to ultimately achieve autonomous exploration of real-world data by the students.
  • Activities are very structured and designed to increase in depth and complexity from the first through the final activity.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Internet access needed initially; some of the activities can be completed offline.
  • Mapping/data interfaces are very easy to understand and use.
  • Downloadable teacher's guide and all student masters. Students complete the activities on a computer but it would be possible to complete them on a single computer and project to the class if computers are not available to all students.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Performance Expectations: 2

MS-ESS3-4: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.

MS-LS2-4: Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 4

MS-ESS3.C1:Human activities have significantly altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species. But changes to Earth’s environments can have different impacts (negative and positive) for different living things.

MS-LS2.A1:Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors.

MS-LS2.C1:Ecosystems are dynamic in nature; their characteristics can vary over time. Disruptions to any physical or biological component of an ecosystem can lead to shifts in all its populations.

MS-LS2.C2:Biodiversity describes the variety of species found in Earth’s terrestrial and oceanic ecosystems. The completeness or integrity of an ecosystem’s biodiversity is often used as a measure of its health

Cross Cutting Concepts: 6

Structure and Function, Stability and Change, Patterns, Cause and effect

MS-C1.2: Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural and human designed systems

MS-C1.3: Patterns can be used to identify cause and effect relationships.

MS-C1.4:Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

MS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

MS-C6.1:Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the shapes, composition, and relationships among its parts; therefore, complex natural and designed structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function.

MS-C7.1: Explanations of stability and change in natural or designed systems can be constructed by examining the changes over time and forces at different scales, including the atomic scale.

Science and Engineering Practices: 8

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information, Asking Questions and Defining Problems

MS-P1.1:Ask questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, models, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.

MS-P3.1:Plan an investigation individually and collaboratively, and in the design: identify independent and dependent variables and controls, what tools are needed to do the gathering, how measurements will be recorded, and how many data are needed to support a claim.

MS-P3.2:Conduct an investigation and/or evaluate and/or revise the experimental design to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence that meet the goals of the investigation

MS-P4.1:Construct, analyze, and/or interpret graphical displays of data and/or large data sets to identify linear and nonlinear relationships.

MS-P4.2:Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships.

MS-P4.4:Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for phenomena.

MS-P6.3:Construct a scientific explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from sources (including the students’ own experiments) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

MS-P8.5:Communicate scientific and/or technical information (e.g. about a proposed object, tool, process, system) in writing and/or through oral presentations.

High School

Performance Expectations: 2

HS-ESS3-6: Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.

HS-LS2-7: Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 4

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

HS-ESS2.D4:Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and biosphere.

HS-LS2.C1:A complex set of interactions within an ecosystem can keep its numbers and types of organisms relatively constant over long periods of time under stable conditions. If a modest biological or physical disturbance to an ecosystem occurs, it may return to its more or less original status (i.e., the ecosystem is resilient), as opposed to becoming a very different ecosystem. Extreme fluctuations in conditions or the size of any population, however, can challenge the functioning of ecosystems in terms of resources and habitat availability.

HS-LS2.C2:Moreover, anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment—including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change—can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 7

Patterns, Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity, Structure and Function, Stability and Change

HS-C1.5:Empirical evidence is needed to identify patterns.

HS-C2.1:Empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and make claims about specific causes and effects.

HS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system.

HS-C3.1:The significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs.

HS-C6.2:The functions and properties of natural and designed objects and systems can be inferred from their overall structure, the way their components are shaped and used, and the molecular substructures of its various materials.

HS-C7.1:Much of science deals with constructing explanations of how things change and how they remain stable.

HS-C7.2:Change and rates of change can be quantified and modeled over very short or very long periods of time. Some system changes are irreversible.

Science and Engineering Practices: 7

Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P1.1:Ask questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.

HS-P3.1:Plan an investigation or test a design individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence as part of building and revising models, supporting explanations for phenomena, or testing solutions to problems. Consider possible confounding variables or effects and evaluate the investigation’s design to ensure variables are controlled.

HS-P3.4:Select appropriate tools to collect, record, analyze, and evaluate data.

HS-P4.5:Evaluate the impact of new data on a working explanation and/or model of a proposed process or system.

HS-P6.2:Construct and revise an explanation based on valid and reliable evidence obtained from a variety of sources (including students’ own investigations, models, theories, simulations, peer review) and the assumption that theories and laws that describe the natural world operate today as they did in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

HS-P6.4:Apply scientific reasoning, theory, and/or models to link evidence to the claims to assess the extent to which the reasoning and data support the explanation or conclusion.

HS-P8.5:Communicate scientific and/or technical information or ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (i.e., orally, graphically, textually, mathematically).


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