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The Coral Reef Project

Wilbur Tong

Students will create a coral reef ecosystem aquarium for Oceanography class.

We are fortunate in Michigan to be surrounded by our freshwater Great Lakes. However, over 70% of the Earth is covered by ocean seawater which supports 90% of the world’s biodiversity. Furthermore, coral reefs are estimated to contain 25% of all marine species making them one of the most diverse habitats in the world.
In this proposal, we aim to create a marine coral reef ecosystem in our classroom: The Coral Reef Project. It is important to note that the design, equipment, cost, and set up for this project has been entirely planned by the students in the Oceanography class at Dexter High School. The teacher (Mr. Wilbur Tong) only has collated the research and proposal from the students in order to write the grant. The details for this proposal are wholly a student endeavor.
The first part of this proposal is to secure funding for the necessary equipment. If approved, equipment will be purchased and students will set up the aquarium. Initially, the aquarium will not contain any organisms. Students will need to determine a set up that will maintain a constant pH, temperature, etc. This process could take several weeks or more. Once a stable environment is established, then we will move on to the second part of the project. In part 2, we will write another grant to purchase coral and other marine organisms to inhabit our tank.
The educational goals for this project are multidisciplinary. Students will learn basic chemistry such as pH acid-base relationships, salinity, heat and temperature. Furthermore, students will learn about ecology and conservation as well as the potential to do hands-on experiments such as nutrient cycling, ecosystem dynamics, and trophic level relationships. There will be a future potential for additional project based learning after the coral reef is mature and stable. Finally, students will be able to take stewardship of the aquarium very seriously. It would be a source of pride for our classroom that has the promise of confidence building that hopefully could translate into other academic subjects.

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