Coral Reef Ecosystems: Ecosystems in Crisis

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Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object, co-developed between NOAA and NSTA, is the fourth of four Science Objects in the Coral Reef Ecosystems SciPack. It explores the natural and human causes of ecosystem stress. Human beings live near coral ecosystems and use them in a variety of ways. Increasing amounts of stress is brought on these ecosystems as humans continue to modify the surrounding environment as a result of population growth, technology, and consumption. Human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, atmospheric changes, and other factors is threatening the stability and overall health of many coral reefs. Human activities may also exacerbate the impact of natural disturbances on coral reefs or compromise the ability of the reef to recover from events such as hurricanes, tsunamis, or disease.

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Reviews (11)
  • on Sun Nov 26, 2017 2:55 PM

This science object goes in depth to discover the cause of coral reef destruction around the globe. I liked this object because it was presented in a simple, list format that was easy to digest. This object also doesn't shy away from the knowledge that humans are in large part destroying our coral reefs. From pollution, to massive hurricanes which are worsened by global warming, and how that global warming is killing the reefs which are then leading to increased tsunamis - this science object shows the cyclical nature of our planet. This was extremely impactful and I would definitely use these resources in my classroom.

Vivian Del Cid
Vivian Del Cid

  • on Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:56 AM

This science object offers a lot of valuable information. It gives definitions and many exams of many natural and manmade stresses that harm different ecosystems in our world. It also lists a variety of endangered ecosystems. This is all at a level that my 7th and 8th graders would be able to comprehend. I really like that it shows the effects of tsunamis and stormy weather because these are things that students would be very familiar with in lieu of the recent hurricanes in the south and the tsunami that happened in Japan in 2011. I like this a lot. In my upcoming unit plan I am teaching about water and air pollution. I could use this science object to help show effects of humans and natural disasters on the environment and its ecosystems. I hope to have extra time to show this valuable information to my students.

Haley Moore  (Canfield, OH)
Haley Moore (Canfield, OH)

  • on Sat Feb 06, 2016 1:25 AM

Very informative and coverage a range of natural and man-made impacts on a very delicate ecosystem.

Claire  (Um Al Hassam, 0)
Claire (Um Al Hassam, 0)

  • on Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:24 AM

This science object discusses the natural and human impacts on the health of coral reefs.

Robin Willig  (Rye Brook, NY)
Robin Willig (Rye Brook, NY)

  • on Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:12 AM

We hear so much about coral reefs. We know they are important. We know they are beautiful. We know they are in danger. Unfortunately, most of us do not really know much more than that. I have always been interested in coral reefs, but they were never really discussed in significant detail in my classes. After completing this I feel more informed about WHY coral reefs are important, and WHY they are in danger. I also never knew coral reefs could have such a significant effect on the effects of tsunamis. After completing this I feel far more confident in my ability to teach students about the important impact of coral reefs, the dangers they face, and most importantly what we can do to help protect them.


  • on Tue Sep 02, 2014 5:22 AM

I really enjoy Science Objects. In 1-3 hours, the Coral Reef Ecosystems: Ecosystems in Crisis Science Object will help me re-learn, refresh, or learn for the first time some critical science concepts I will have to know to obtain my Science Educator credentials. I appreciate that I can complete them at my own pace, and that, if used as park of a SciPack, I have access to a content expert to go to for help. The NSTA Learning Center Science Objects are really beneficial!

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:27 PM

Presenting the truth on a very special ecosystem in a very balance way. This is a material for advocates of defense for the environment.

Ronaldo Relador  (Bowie, MD)
Ronaldo Relador (Bowie, MD)

  • on Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:48 AM

This Science Objects describes and elaborates about the stresses, both biotic and abiotic, to a coral reef ecosystem. Subtopics include hurricanes, both positive and negative effects of tsunamis, reef eating predators, bleaching and coral diseases. This is followed by human interactions such as commercial exploitation, runoff from land, invasive species, ship groundings, marine debris, tourism and recreation. Two student preconceptions address those held by elementary students. There is an animation about Degree Heat Week in 2005. This Science Object provides a link for Email Help from a Content Mentor. The Science Object is peppered with check for understanding questions throughout it and ends with a short quiz. This is an excellent overview of the problems facing coral reefs but it also provides a section about stewardship of the reefs. This resource overflows with a wealth of information and provides a strong background understanding of the ecological problems facing this un

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:53 PM

Science Object is great for environmental buff.

Janice  (Honolulu, HI)
Janice (Honolulu, HI)

  • on Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:28 PM

I chose to review Katie Lyons collection on Coral Reefs. By reviewing her collection I see that she has six resources. I feel that Katie has a lot of beneficial that can clear up any confusions or misconceptions she might have. Having these resources grouped together will allow her to refer back to any of these in case she needs any further explanation on Coral Reefs before planning her lesson to her students. I also like that she had a variety of resources such as science objects, journal articles and podcasts. I like how she is not just using one type of resource and has other resources to relate to. I feel that it would be beneficial if she named her collection and was more specific as to what she wanted to students to gain from these resources. As well as maybe how she was going to use them in her classroom or lesson. I understand that it has to do with Coral Reefs but not exactly sure what her main focus was on with Coral Reefs. I am also not sure what grade level she was planning on teaching her lesson to. I am glad that she included podcasts so that not only as a teacher she will be able to use as a reference but so will her students. I also feel that six resources sometimes isn’t enough event though six resources was the minimum for the collection. I feel as a future teacher the more resources and references a teacher has the easier it is when it comes to planning for a lesson. I feel that she should of included a book or even a scipack on Coral Reefs in her collection since that is a great way to gain knowledge as well as assess the students. However, for the most part I felt that while she was selecting the resources for her collection she was extremely selective and tried to relate the resources to each other as much as possible. I definitely feel that if she would expand her resources her collection would be more useful for her and her students.

Chelsie Griffith
Chelsie Griffith

  • on Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:22 PM

This science object looks at both natural and human causes to the damage and stress on coral reef ecosystems. This information is presented in list form (4 topics for natural causes and 8 topics for human causes) and concludes with information on endangered species and ideas for stewardship. This object has a wealth of information with a good bit of review questions and can supplement any discussions or units on humans interacting with their environment. Very few interactive components, though.

David K
David K

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