Lesson Plans for the Coral Ecosystem Connectivity 2013: From Pulley Ridge to the Florida Keys Expedition

Educators and scientists working with NOAA developed two lesson plans for students in Grades 6-8 and 9-12 that are tied to the science behind the Coral Ecosystem Connectivity 2013 from Pulley Ridge to the Florida Keys Expedition. These lesson plans are targeted toward performance expectations specified by the Next Generation Science Standards in the context of cutting-edge ocean exploration and research using state-of-the-art technologies. Activities are also correlated with the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts, and 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 Coral Ecosystem Connectivity 2013 from Pulley Ridge to the Florida Keys Expedition posted on this site to supplement the lesson plans.

Additional lesson plans that have been developed for prior expeditions to explore mesophotic coral ecosystems are also listed, as well as other relevant lessons from the Ocean Explorer Program, and 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

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. 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 6-8

Aliens on the Reef! (PDF, 516 KB)
Focus: Impacts of invasive species on coral reefs (Life Science)
Students explain interactions between native coral reef species and invasive lionfish, and construct explanations that predict how these interactions may affect other ecosystems.

Grades 9-12

Everyone Wins! (PDF, 508 KB)
Focus: Marine protected areas (Life Science)
Students analyze threats to coral ecosystems and specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for marine protected areas that account for perceived tradeoffs between conservation and fishery goals, and discuss evidence that demonstrates how marine protected areas can enhance use as well as protection of marine resources.

 

Lesson Plans from Prior Expeditions to Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems

Grades 5-6

A Piece of Cake
(from the 2007 Cayman Island Twilight Zone Expedition)
Focus: Spatial heterogeneity in deep-water coral communities (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to explain what a habitat is, describe at least three functions or benefits that habitats provide, and describe some habitats that are typical of deep-water hard bottom communities. Students will also be able to explain how organisms, such as deep-water corals and sponges, add to the variety of habitats in areas such as the Charleston Bump.

Deep Gardens
(from the 2007 Cayman Island Twilight Zone Expedition)
Focus: Comparison of deep-sea and shallow-water tropical coral communities (Life Science)
In this activity, students will compare and contrast deep-sea coral communities with their shallow- water counterparts, describe three types of coral associated with deep-sea coral communities, and explain three benefits associated with deep-sea coral communities. Students will explain why many scientists are concerned about the future of deep-sea coral communities.

 

Grades 7-8

Let’s Go to the Video Tape! 
(from the 2007 Cayman Island Twilight Zone Expedition)
Focus: Characteristics of biological communities on deep-water coral habitats (Life Science)
In this activity, students will recognize and identify some of the fauna groups found in deep-sea coral communities, infer possible reasons for observed distribution of groups of animals in deep-sea coral communities, and discuss the meaning of “biological diversity.” Students will compare and contrast the concepts of “variety” and “relative abundance” as they relate to biological diversity, and given abundance and distribution data of species, will be able to calculate an appropriate numeric indicator that describes the biological diversity of a community.

Treasures in Jeopardy
(from the 2007 Cayman Island Twilight Zone 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 Down There? 
(from the 2007 Cayman Island Twilight Zone Expedition)
Focus: Mapping Coral Reef Habitats
In this activity, students will be able to access data on selected coral reefs and manipulate these data to characterize these reefs, and explain the need for baseline data in coral reef monitoring programs. Students also will be able to identify and explain five ways that coral reefs benefit human beings, and identify and explain three major threats to coral reefs.

The Benthic Drugstore
(from the 2007 Cayman Island Twilight Zone 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.

Watch the Screen!
(from the 2007 Cayman Island Twilight Zone Expedition)
Focus: Screening natural products for biological activity (Life Science/Chemistry)
In this activity, students will be able to explain and carry out a simple process for screening natural products for biological activity, and will be able to infer why organisms such as sessile marine invertebrates appear to be promising sources of new drugs.

Now Take a Deep Breath
(from the 2007 Cayman Island Twilight Zone Expedition)
Focus: Physics and physiology of SCUBA diving (Physical Science/Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to define Henry’s Law, Boyle’s Law, and Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures, and explain their relevance to SCUBA diving; discuss the causes of air embolism, decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis, and oxygen toxicity in SCUBA divers; and explain the advantages of gas mixtures such as Nitrox and Trimix and closed-circuit rebreather systems.

 

Other Relevant Lesson Plans from NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program

Grades 5-6

Easy as Pi
(from the 2003 Charleston Bump Expedition)
Focus: Structural complexity in benthic habitats (Life Science/Mathematics)
In this activity, students will be able to describe the importance of structural features that increase surface area in benthic habitats and quantify the relative impact of various structural modifications on surface area in model habitats. Students will also be able to give examples of organisms that increase the structural complexity of their communities.

Keep Away
(from the 2003 Gulf of Mexico Deep Sea Habitats Expedition)
Focus: Effects of pollution on diversity in benthic communities (Life Science)
In this activity, students will discuss the meaning of biological diversity and compare and contrast the concepts of variety and relative abundance as they relate to biological diversity. Given information on the number of individuals, number of species, and biological diversity at a series of sites, students will make inferences about the possible effects of oil drilling operations on benthic communities.

 

Grades 7-8

Big Fleas Have Little Fleas 
(from the 2003 Mountains in the Sea Expedition)
Focus: Physical structure in benthic habitats (Life Science)
In this activity, students will recognize that natural structures and systems often display recurrent complexity over many scales of measurement, infer the importance of structural complexity to species diversity and abundance in benthic habitats, and discuss ways that octocorals may modify seamount habitats to make these habitats more suitable for other species.

Design a Reef!
(from the Gulf of Mexico Deep Sea Habitats 2003 Expedition)
Focus: Niches in coral reef ecosystems (Life Science)
In this activity, students will compare and contrast coral communities in shallow water and deep water, describe the major functions that organisms must perform in a coral ecosystem, and explain how these functions might be provided in a miniature coral ecosystem. Students will also be able to explain the importance of three physical factors in coral reef ecosystems and infer the fundamental source of energy in a deep-water coral community.

 

Grades 9-12

Keep It Complex! 
(from The Charleston Bump 2003 Expedition)
Focus: Effects of habitat complexity on biological diversity (Life Science)
In this activity, students will be able to describe the significance of complexity in benthic habitats to organisms that live in these habitats and will describe at least three attributes of benthic habitats that can increase the physical complexity of these habitats. Students will also be able to give examples of organisms that increase the structural complexity of their communities and infer and explain relationships between species diversity and habitat complexity in benthic communities.

How Diverse is That?
(from the 2003 Windows to the Deep 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.