Lesson Plans for the Lophelia II 2012: Deepwater Platform Corals Expedition

Educators and scientists working with NOAA developed a series of lesson plans for students in Grades 5 - 12 that are specifically tied to the science behind the Lophelia II 2012: Deepwater Platform Corals expedition. These lesson plans focus on cutting-edge ocean exploration and research using state-of-the-art technologies.

The lesson plans are grouped into the following categories:

Diamond Icon Grades 5-6
Diamond Icon Grades 7-8
Diamond Icon Grades 9-12
Diamond Icon Other Relevant Lessons

Activities are correlated with A Framework for K-12 Science Education (in preparation for the Next Generation Science Standards);the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts; and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics where appropriate. The lessons include focus questions, background information for teachers, links to interesting Internet sites, and extensions. Web logs that document the latest discoveries and complement the lesson plans, complete with compelling images and video, will be sent back each day from sea. Teachers are encouraged to use the background essays, logs, and other resources from the Lophelia II 2012 expedition posted on this site to supplement the lesson plans.

Read a description of each lesson plan and/or download them to your computer. All of the lesson plans are available in a PDF format, and may be viewed and printed with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader External Link. To download a lesson plan, click on its title from the listing below. (Note: if you have problems downloading one of these lessons, right-click on the link and save the lesson to your desktop.

Grades 5-6

How Do Your Corals Grow? (PDF, 737 Kb)
Focus: Growth and structure of Lophelia coral colonies
Students plan and carry out an investigation using models to explain how the branching structure of Lophelia coral colonies may affect the corals’ ability to take in food; communicate results of this investigation and cite evidence to support inferences about the relationship between structure of Lophelia coral colonies and the feeding function of individual coral polyps; and analyze and interpret data from photographic images to estimate the growth rate of Lophelia coral colonies.

Grades 7-8

Not Quite Macro, Not Quite Micro (PDF, 479 Kb)
Focus: Meiofauna associated with Lophelia coral reefs
Students analyze and interpret data on the abundance and density of meiofauna to identify patterns that may be associated with interactions between these animals and nonliving components of Lophelia coral reefs; and construct explanations that explain how changes resulting from the growth of Lophelia corals affect the biodiversity of meiofauna in Lophelia coral ecosystems.

Grades 9-12

Who’s Connected? (PDF, 443 Kb)
Focus: Connectivity of Lophelia coral populations
Students analyze and interpret genetic data from populations of Lophelia corals to identify patterns that indicate how closely these populations are related; use results of this analysis as evidence to explain flows and conservation of genetic material between Lophelia coral populations, and how this explanation could be used to select effective strategies for protecting biodiversity among Lophelia corals; and explain how the presence of both sexual and asexual reproduction in Lophelia corals affects the stability of Lophelia reef ecosystems and natural selection among populations of these corals.

Other Relevant Lesson Plans from NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program

Grades 5-6

Grades 5-6           
Life on the Hardbottom (PDF, 2.2 Mb) (from the Lophelia II 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Hardbottom Biotopes in the Gulf of Mexico (Life Science)
Students will define and contrast the terms “biotope,” “habitat,” and “ecosystem;” explain what “hardgrounds” are; describe major biotopes associated with hardgrounds in the Gulf of Mexico; and give examples of at least three species associated with each biotope.

The Robot Ranger (PDF, 1.1 Mb) (from the Lophelia II 2009 Expedition)
Focus: Robotic Analogues for Human Structures (Distance Estimation) (Life Science/Physical Science)
In this activity, students will describe how humans are able to estimate the distance to visible objects, and describe a robotic system with a similar capability.

Entering the Twilight Zone (PDF, 352k) (from the Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007)
Focus: Deep-sea habitats (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe major features of cold-seep communities, list at least five organisms typical of these communities and infer probable trophic relationships within and between major deep-sea habitats. Students will also be able to describe the process of chemosynthesis in general terms, contrast chemosynthesis and photosynthesis, and describe major deep-sea habitats and list at least three organisms typical of each habitat.

(top)

Grades 7-8

Let’s Hit the Slopes! (PDF, 528 Kb) (from the Lophelia II 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Benthic communities on continental slopes in the Gulf of Mexico (Life Science)
Students will describe benthic communities found at selected sites on continental slopes in the Gulf of Mexico, and explain the possible ecological role of at least three species that are characteristic of these communities.

What’s So Special? (PDF, 520 Kb) (from the Lophelia II 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Biology and ecology of Lophelia corals (Life Science)
Students will describe the general biology and morphology of Lophelia corals, explain how these corals contribute to the development of complex communities, identify ways in which these corals are threatened by human activities, and discuss ways in which Lophelia communities are important to humans.

Corrosion to Corals (PDF, 1.7 Mb) (from the Lophelia II 2009 Expedition)
Focus: Galvanic exchange and carbonate precipitation (Physical Science/Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe galvanic exchange and explain how this process produces electric currents. Given two dissimilar metals and information on their position in an Electromotive Series, students will be able to predict which of the metals will deteriorate if they are placed in a salt solution. Students will also be able to describe the effect of electric currents on the availability of metal ions, and how this might contribute to the growth of corals on shipwrecks.

Treasures in Jeopardy (PDF, 278Kb PDF) (from the Cayman Islands Twilight Zone 2007 Expedition)
Focus: Conservation of deep-sea coral communities (Life Science)
In this activity, students will compare and contrast deep-sea coral communities with their shallow-water counterparts and explain at least three benefits associated with deep-sea coral communities. Students will also describe human activities that threaten deep-sea coral communities and describe actions that should be taken to protect resources of deep-sea coral communities.

Grades 9-12

What’s the Connection? (PDF, 556 Kb) (from the Lophelia II 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Relationship of hardground communities in the Gulf of Mexico to physical and chemical environmental features (Life Science/Chemistry)
Students will define hardgrounds and explain how they are formed in the Gulf of Mexico, and discuss the relationships between hydrocarbon seeps, chemosynthetic communities, and deep-water coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico.

Welcome to My Community! (PDF, 774 Kb) (from the Lophelia II 2010 Expedition)
Focus: Change detection in biological communities (Life Science/Mathematics)
Students will define the concept of a biological community; perform calculations to identify communities from biological surveys; and describe how biological surveys may be used to detect changes in deep-sea communities.

The Benthic Drugstore (PDF, 278 Kb) (from the Cayman Islands Twilight Zone 2007 Expedition)
Focus: Pharmacologically-active chemicals derived from marine invertebrates (Life Science/Chemistry)
In this activity, students will be able to identify at least three pharmacologically-active chemicals derived from marine invertebrates, describe the disease-fighting action of at least three pharmacologically-active chemicals derived from marine invertebrates, and infer why sessile marine invertebrates appear to be promising sources of new drugs.

Biochemistry Detectives (PDF, 480 Kb) (from the 2002 Gulf of Mexico Expedition)
Focus: Biochemical clues to energy-obtaining strategies (Chemistry)
In this activity, students will be able to explain the process of chemosynthesis, explain the relevance of chemosynthesis to biological communities in the vicinity of cold seeps, and describe three energy-obtaining strategies used by organisms in cold-seep communities. Students will also be able to interpret analyses of enzyme activity and 13C isotope values to draw inferences about energy-obtaining strategies used by organisms in cold-seep communities.

What Was for Dinner? (PDF, 400 Kb) (from the 2003 Life on the Edge Expedition)
Focus: Use of isotopes to help define trophic relationships (Life Science)
In this activity, students will describe at least three energy-obtaining strategies used by organisms in deep-reef communities and interpret analyses of 15N, 13C, and 34S isotope values.

Chemosynthesis for the Classroom PDF, 274 Kb) (from the 2006 Deep Slope Expedition)
Focus: Chemosynthetic bacteria and succession in chemosynthetic communities (Chemistry/Biology)
In this activity, students will observe the development of chemosynthetic bacterial communities and will recognize that organisms modify their environment in ways that create opportunities for other organisms to thrive. Students will also be able to explain the process of chemosynthesis and the relevance of chemosynthesis to biological communities in the vicinity of cold seeps.

How Diverse is That? (PDF, 293 Kb) (from the 2006 Deep Slope Expedition)
Focus: Quantifying biological diversity (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to discuss the meaning of biological diversity and will be able to compare and contrast the concepts of variety and relative abundance as they relate to biological diversity. Given abundance and distribution data of species in two communities, students will be able to calculate an appropriate numeric indicator that describes the biological diversity of these communities.


For More Information

Contact:
Paula Keener
Director, Education Programs
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

Other lesson plans developed for this Web site are available in the Education Section.

Sign up for the Ocean Explorer E-mail Update List.