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TERC, Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College (SERC)


8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom
  • Articles and Websites
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables
  • Interactive Media
  • Videos

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PDF, YouTube Video

Corals Unit Labs

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  • This unit consists of six labs centering on the anatomy of coral, the importance of coral reefs, and the necessary ocean conditions for coral health.
  • Students will learn how climate change and other human activities put coral reefs at risk. 
Teaching Tips


  • This in-depth unit on corals spans a number of scientific topics and includes hands-on activities and interactive digital components.
  • The "Lab Overviews" section identifies all of the materials needed for the activities and provides a quick scope and sequence of the unit.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Lab 2 contains an activity in which students examine a live hydra. Teachers may wish to modify the portion of the activity that requires a hydra in the classroom.
  • Lab 3 requires a number of materials for the hands-on activity.
  • The links to the NOAA articles for Lab 3 do not work. 


  • High-ability students could complete many lab sections independently and use the self assessments within the labs to check their understanding.
  • Science classes can use one or more of these labs when learning about acids and bases, ecosystems, symbiotic relationships, biodiversity, homeostasis, and chemical reactions.
  • Assist students with learning differences by pre-teaching vocabulary and main ideas before beginning the labs.
Scientist Notes
Coral reefs are important marine ecosystems. This resource will improve students' abilities to develop strategies to protect coral reefs and marine biodiversity impacted by climate change. The resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-1 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
      • MS-LS1-1 Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.
      • MS-LS1-8 Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-1 Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
      • MS-LS2-4 Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
      • HS-LS2-4 Use mathematical representations to support claims for the cycling of matter and flow of energy among organisms in an ecosystem.
      • HS-LS2-7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
      • D4.6.6-8 Draw on multiple disciplinary lenses to analyze how a specific problem can manifest itself at local, regional, and global levels over time, identifying its characteristics and causes, and the challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address the problem.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.3 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.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.9 Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.
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