Amazing polyps

Lesson overview:

The Great Barrier Reef stretches for over 2,300 kilometres along the eastern coast of Australia, but the creatures that have created this habitat can measure just a few millimetres across. This lesson covers the basic anatomy of the coral polyp, their life cycle and reproductive processes, and finishes with a game that shows how tropical coral polyps get their energy boost to create such amazing structures.

Learning outcomes:

  • Understand that one of the few living structures visible from space is made up of tiny animals
  • Describe the anatomy of a coral polyp
  • Explain and compare the life cycle of coral
  • Understand the different methods that coral polyps use to get their energy
  • Review learning and reflect on the role of the coral polyp in creating the reef

Lesson steps

  1. Reef scales (10 mins)
    Use the reef scales card sort to develop students’ knowledge of the different scales on the reef.
  2. Incredible edible polyp (25 mins)
    Students undertake an anatomical exploration of the coral polyp using a selection of fruit, confectionery, and biscuits. They might want to eat this!
  3. Coral life cycle (15 mins)
    Students learn about the life cycle of the coral polyp and compare it to the life cycle of an animal found in their local environment.
  4. Dive log (10 mins)
    Students reflect on their learning and use their new coral knowledge to complete their dive logs.

Extension or home learning:

Students can learn more about how coral polyps get energy using the Coral feeding game activity.