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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.
  • 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.
    • 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 the 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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