This lesson introduces the idea of interrelationships among organisms and how these could help them persist in a coral reef ecosystem. Students will learn about symbiotic relationships, with mutualism among coral and zooxanthellae as the model organisms in the first lesson and then moving on to parasitism and mutualism. Topics include the transfer of energy and matter through the processes of photosynthesis and respiration. These concepts are approached through the marine environment, rather than the terrestrial environment, which allows most students to take a step out of their comfort zone. Teaching these concepts with examples from the coral reef ecosystem is also a great way to incorporate ocean literacy into the classroom.
This lesson works well as an introduction or review of these processes. Please implement additional classroom activities that will complement the concepts discussed in this unit. This unit was written primarily for seventh graders, but adjustments can be made to fit any grade level.