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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom
  • Lesson Plans
  • Worksheets
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables

Regional Focus



Google Docs, PDF, Microsoft Excel

Coral Reefs and Global Warming

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  • In this activity, students will learn how warming temperatures affect corals and graph the temperature data from a specific coral reef site to assess the risk of coral bleaching in the area. 
Teaching Tips


  • The Educator Materials provide a detailed overview of the activity.
  • Both the ZIP file and the Resource Google Folder contain all the documents needed to complete the full activity: student worksheets, maps, graphs, and links to data.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should know how to use spreadsheet programs to graph the data. 
  • Teachers may want to walk students through the activity if students are unfamiliar with how to make predictions based on scientific modeling.


  • After completing the activity, students could compare the results from their location to students' results from other locations to determine whether some regions of the world are more affected by warming ocean temperatures than others.
  • Geography classes could learn more about the locations to see how damage to the coral reefs in the regions might impact tourism or other industries.
  • Other resources on this topic include this National Park Service video on how coral health is connected to fish populations, this interactive NASA resource that provides data on ocean heat, and this lesson and experiment on ocean acidification.
Scientist Notes
This is a good resource for evaluating heat stress on coral reefs. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • 9-10.RST.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
      • 9-10.RST.7 Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form and translate information expressed visually or mathematically into words.
      • 9-10.RST.9 Compare and contrast findings presented in a text to those from other sources (including their own experiments), noting when the findings support or contradict previous explanations or accounts.
      • 11-12.RST.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.
      • 11-12.RST.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media in order to address a question or solve a problem.
      • 11-12.RST.9 Synthesize information from a range of sources into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS.ESS2.2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS.LS2.2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
      • HS.LS2.6 Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
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