When your child announces she is studying coral reefs and has to do a school project, never fear. Science and art present many ways to create a kid's school project on the coral reef. From modeling to exploring the dynamic cycle of life in the coral reef to learning about the many creatures that call the reef home, your child can impress teachers and peers with her oceanographic knowledge of the diversity of life in the coral reefs.
Give your child some modeling clay and let him sculpt some coral reefs. He can try to imitate the form of one of the world's real coral reefs using pictures as a guide, or create his own reef mounds. He can use a shallow tub of water and sand to simulate the ocean currents. Short lengths of pipe cleaner represent coral larvae and mature coral. Another idea is to grow coral crystals using charcoal or sponges, water, salt, liquid bluing and food coloring. Read together about how the coral reef forms to draw parallels between how the crystals form and how coral forms. Your child can incorporate her coral crystals into a model or diorama that shows the diversity of plant and animal life in the coral reefs.
If art is more to your child's liking, she can use the cups in an egg carton as the mounds to create a paper model of the coral reef. Create paper or pipe cleaner coral polyps and slit the bottom of each cup to insert. With colored markers or miniature, colored sticky dots, your child can decorate the coral with polka dots to represent the many pigments of zooxanthellae which gives the coral its color. She can also add plastic grass as seaweed and paper or foam cutouts of other plants that grow around the coral reefs and insert them in the spaces between cups. Another simple art project is to cut out or draw pictures of the creatures that live in the coral reef and make a hanging mobile.
Your child can recreate a mass spawning event which occurs in late summer in the coral reefs. Build a tiny coral reef on the inside of a twist-on lid for a clear jar. Add water, food coloring or gelatin and plastic stuffing pellets, silver glitter or confetti or white seed beeds. Secure the coral reef lid securely onto the jar, sealing it with several layers of duct tape. When he shakes the jar, the floaters will rise to simulate the spawning which helps corals reproduce. Alternately, he can make an interactive coral reef card with drawings or cutouts of a coral reef. Secure one end of several lengths of string or yarn along the bottom edge of the reef picture and attach a white plastic bead to each one. Punch a hole in the top center, run all the strings through it and knot them together. When he pulls the top knot, the beads should rise as do egg packets and sperm during spawning.
If your child excels at factual research, turn a simple report into creative educational materials for public awareness of the coral reefs. She can make a poster, a travel brochure or digital slideshow about the different regions of the coral reef, geographical locations, how they form and reproduce, their life cycle, their biology, threats and what the public can do to help conserve the coral reef. If you help her arrange to share or display her work publicly, her effort will be rewarded by fulfilling its purpose to educate the public about the importance of the coral reefs.