Exploring the science of a coral reef and recreating a healthy ecosystem

App of the Week

The Smithsonian’s Secrets of the Sea invites students to explore coral reefs in an online 3D interactive and through other classroom-ready activities. Secrets of the Sea makes the effects of climate change on our oceans meaningful, relevant, and accessible to your students. Whether users are aspiring marine biologists, game enthusiasts, or educators looking for engaging science resources, they’ll be able to explore the vibrant world of a coral reef through videos, an online game, and hands-on activities. Students will be able to discover the connections between the tiniest plants and the largest hunters, and recreate a healthy and diverse ecosystem by finding living things and returning them to the coral reef.

The experience features the work of Dr. Nancy Knowlton, former Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and co-founder of the Earth Optimism movement. Dr. Knowlton’s approach to talking about climate change is to share stories of groups of people whose collective actions are making a positive change, instead of the “doom and gloom” that up to now hasn’t been working.


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Teachers tell us all the time about their struggles in teaching climate change; students feel it’s either too big of a problem for them to make a difference, or feels too far off into the future, or not relevant to where they live. Secrets of the Sea makes the science engaging, relevant, and approachable. With the help of Smithsonian experts in the field, they can learn about the threats reefs face and the cutting-edge technology that is being used to combat climate change. They’ll also hear stories of those that have made real, positive change, and acquire a list of resources for how they can help make positive changes as well.