How do forces affect deep coral exploration?

Lesson overview

This lesson explores the technology required to explore deep reefs and considers how water pressure poses additional challenges to scientists exploring the ‘twilight zone’ through a teacher led demonstration. Students consider the human context of deep reef exploration through reading a blogpost written by Norbert Englebert a member of the deep reef team. Students conduct an experiment to test whether the colour of coral affects the amount of light it absorbs.

Lesson outcomes

  • Describe the technology needed to work on the deep reef
  • Understand the relationship between water pressure and depth
  • Communicate what it is like to work at these depths
  • Investigate the relationship between depth and coral colour
  • Reflect on the best shape for deep reef corals

Lesson steps

  1. Use of technology (10 mins)
    Students identify how different species have adapted to life on the coral reef and understand how survival involves competing for resources.
  2. Under pressure (10 mins)
    Students watch a teacher-led demonstration which illustrates the relationship between depth and water pressure.
  3. Deep diving (10 mins)
    Students consider what it is like to be part of the dive team through reading about Norbert Engelbart’s experiences and answering questions.
  4. Corals at depth (20 mins)
    Students conduct an experiment designed to test the hypothesis that deep reef corals are darker because they need to absorb more of the available light.
  5. How is coral different on the deep reef? (10 mins)
    Students consider the other adaptations of coral reefs and reflect on how corals might change shape at depth.