Coral bleaching

Part of:

Google Expeditions
Lesson overview

In this lesson students will develop their knowledge and understanding of coral bleaching. Students will look at the causes and the consequences and go on to focus their study on the coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef.

Learning outcomes
  • Understand what a coral reef is
  • To locate coral reefs on a world map
  • To list cause and effect of coral bleaching
  • To explain how to help prevent further bleaching

Expedition Prep Checklist

Download the Google Expeditions App on all devices and find select the expedition Global Coral Bleaching Event.

Explore the expedition and locate points of interest.

Look at other videos and galleries available on

Lesson steps
  1. Introduction (10 mins)
    Go though the lesson objectives with the class. Instruct the students on what they should be doing whilst completing the expedition. Students locate different coral reefs using an atlas or digital map.
  2. Expedition (20 mins)
    Students complete an expedition, answering the following questions with a partner: What do you notice about the locations? What might that tell us about the locations? What might that tell us about the water? (tropical or sub-tropical, i.e. warm) Are coral reefs normally in deep water or shallow? (shallow) Why are coral reefs so important? (habitats, diverse ecosystems, protect shore from damaging effect of wave action, attract tourism, provide food for locals).
  3. Activity (30 mins)
    As a class, students create a story map on the board about how coral bleaching occurs. In pairs students design symbols for certain processes and write key vocabulary alongside arrows to show how they map flows. Independently students write a paragraph explaining what the effect of coral bleaching will have on the ecosystem's animals, including humans.
  4. Extension
    Students to explore alternative case studies relating to coral reef destruction by other means:
    • Blast fishing in Malaysia
    • Tourism in Barbados