Marine Biology

Your Carbon Footprint and Ocean Acidification

Students will learn about how human activities (e.g. carbon emissions) affect the balance of the ocean, and how this influences organisms and their environment. They will first calculate their own personal carbon footprint and brainstorm ways to reduce it. Next, students will perform a hands-on lab to understand how increased carbon affects the ocean’s pH. This lab also includes tips on how students can reduce their carbon footprint.

This lab can be done in conjunction with or prior Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Mussel and Oyster Shells.


Photo by Thierry Meier

Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Mussel and Oyster Shells

Students will understand the effect of ocean acidification on different kinds of shells. Ocean acidification causes organisms with calcium carbonate skeletons or shells to degrade, which is seen in corals as well as mussels and oysters. This lab can be done in conjunction with, or immediately following Lab 1. This lab demonstrates the variety of life that is impacted by ocean acidification.


Photo by Mai Moeslund

Coral Anatomy, Environment and Reef Life

Students will learn the anatomy of coral, and understand the components necessary for a healthy, functioning coral reef ecosystem. This lab uses models for building a coral polyp in order to learn the anatomy of each individual animal, and then branches out to include the factors required for an entire reef to function. Students will also discuss human activities that are damaging to the reefs.

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Photo by David  Clode

Coral Bleaching: The Effect of Environmental Stressors on Marine Organisms

Students will study the effects of changing environmental conditions, using the anemone Aiptasia pallida as a model organism for coral bleaching. This lab will build on what students learned in the previous lessons, by having students choose a marine stressor to use and demonstrate how these stressors impact marine life.


Coral Bleaching Time Lapses

Photo by Annie Innes-Gold

Eutrophication and Algal Blooms

Students will study how fertilizer runoff can significantly change water quality and cause algae bloom, and investigate the differences in eutrophication effect in salt and freshwater.

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Photo by Sergio Souza

Harmful Algal Blooms in the Chesapeake Bay

Students will study water quality before and after algal blooms, using data from continuous monitoring stations on the Chesapeake Bay. This lab will familiarize students with water quality measurements, as well as provide practice in data comprehension and analysis.


Watch a Short Video About Red Tides

Photo by Ivan Bandura

Introducing Citizen Science

Students will become familiar with the concept of citizen science, explore online projects, and brainstorm ways for the public to involve themselves in research.


Photo by Jo Lanta

Final Visual Project

Students should tie together multiple aspects of this lab curriculum into a final visual project, to practice communicating science. This is an open-ended project that students should base off the previous labs.

Standards Met:
HS-PS2-1. Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution. (Science and Engineering Practices)
HS-PS2-6. Communicate scientific and technical information (e.g. about the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (including orally, graphically, textually, and mathematically). (Science and Engineering Practices)


Photo by Daniel Korpai