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NBC News Learn/Windows to the Universe


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type

  • Videos, 6 minutes, 3 seconds

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Changing Planet: Fading Corals

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  • In this video, students will learn that carbon dioxide emissions have caused ocean waters to warm and become more acidic, damaging corals in reefs around the world.
  • As corals disappear, ocean biodiversity decreases, and coastal regions become more susceptible to erosion and storm surge.
Teaching Tips


  •  The video explains the structure and function of coral reefs with strong visuals, animations, interviews, and narration.
  • The pedagogy section provides suggestions for activities to pair with the video.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The video presents an overview of the symbiotic relationship between coral and zooxanthellae, but teachers may want to elaborate on how zooxanthellae are related to coral bleaching.


  • Students could research the types of organisms that live in coral reefs and make a slideshow to show how coral bleaching affects the other organisms that live in coral ecosystems.
  • Social studies classes could discuss the impact that coral reef destruction has on coastal erosion, storm surge protection, tourism, and the fishing industry.
  • Other resources on this topic include this interactive video on the factors that contribute to coral bleaching, this lesson on the importance of coral ecosystems, and this activity on resistance to coral bleaching.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a 6-minute video exploring the impact of climate change and ocean acidification on coral reefs. It is a highly-produced video with simple graphics and includes several high-quality interviews with scientists studying coral reefs. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science and Engineering
    • 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.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
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