In this activity, students examine NASA satellite data to determine if sea surface temperature has reached a point that would cause coral bleaching in the Caribbean.
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It may be helpful to extend the scope of this activity and allow students to explore coral bleaching worldwide.
Suggestion to start the lesson: Let students explore where coral reefs are as an introduction. The activity assumes that students know where coral reefs are in the Caribbean.
The educator will have to help students draw the connection between coral bleaching, sea surface temperature, and global warming; this is only addressed in the extension activity but should definitely be addressed in the lesson.
Students use real data, although it is from 2005. The links do not provide more up-to-date data. Educator might want to supplement the activity with more recent data.
Activity shows a simplistic relationship between coral bleaching and sea surface temperatures.
Suggested additional resources for background info for students - http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/index.html. This will help to expand a more accurate understanding of the relationship between coral bleaching and sea surface temperature.
The activity uses a general case for temperature threshold for coral bleaching (30 degrees) rather than the more accurate degree heating weeks. This term should also be introduced by the educator.
Students can choose the location to study.
Students analyze their own graphs to draw conclusions about coral bleaching.
All necessary materials are included and easily accessible.