Investigating the International Year of the Reef and Coral Reef Decline
The Reef Stewardship Foundation and the University of Houston collaboratively developed the Connecting the Ocean, Reefs, Aquariums, Literacy, and Stewardship (CORALS) program under supervision from Dr. Brian Plankis, the project’s Principal Investigator. This educational research study was designed to measure the environmental and ocean literacies of the high school students that participated in the study, while providing them with an engaging research project.
CORALS was designed primarily around two curriculum models. The first model was the Network Science Project (NSP) (Feldman, Konold, & Coulter, 2000) where students collaborated with other classrooms and scientists over the Internet on a joint science project directly related to a real world science issue or environmental problem. The second model was the Investigating and Evaluating Environmental Issues and Actions curriculum model (IEEIA) (Hungerford, Volk, Ramsey, Litherland, & Peyton, 2003). The IEEIA model is designed to guide students through the analysis of environmental problems and issues and build a personally relevant understanding of the interaction of science, society and technology.
The students conducted an aquarium-based experiment in the classroom that examined the effects of temperature on coral growth and survival, and investigated a wide range of environmental issues that are impacting coral reefs through the CORALS discussion forums.
Students in three states conducted identical aquarium experiments where they manipulated temperature and recorded data and observations on the response of coral reef invertebrates to the temperature changes. Students shared their results with other schools and were assisted by science experts via the Reef Stewardship Foundation discussion forums.
Investigating and Evaluating Environmental Issues and Actions
The students’ teachers, was well as science experts, guided the students in understanding the larger context of coral reef decline and why 2008 was named the International Year of the Reef. Student investigations researched the environmental issues impacting coral reefs and examined ways the students could take actions in their local community to help coral reefs. Student investigations resulted in investigation reports and videos that we hope to share with the Reef Stewardship Foundation community at a later date.
Feldman, A., Konold, C., & Coulter, B. (2000). Network science a decade later: The Internet and classroom learning. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Hungerford, H. R., Volk, T. L., Ramsey, J. R., Litherland, R. A., & Peyton, R. B. (2003). Investigating and Evaluating Environmental Issues and Actions. Champaign, IL: Stipes Publishing Co.