Reader's Digest World Presents The Living Edens Palau-Paradise of the Pacific
Aquatic Classroom


Palau, Paradise of the Pacific: Home Improvement: Building My Own Coral Reef

Objectives of the Lesson
Background Information
Reference books for coral reefs
Materials Needed For The Activity
Evaluation/Alternative Assessment
National Science Standards
Other Sites on Palau
Other Sites on Coral Reefs

Objectives of the Lesson:

At the completion of the lesson the student will be able to :

  1. Identify types of coral found on Palau reefs
  2. Construct coral skeletons similar to those found on Palau reefs
  3. Create a miniature coral reef
  4. Identify species of corals found on Palau reefs using student models

Background Information:

Corals of the South Pacific are the most varied and perhaps the most beautiful in the world. Coral reef species found in the Caribbean Sea are less colorful and less varied than those of Palau; however, Caribbean coral reef species may also be created.

For advanced students, scientific names can be used; other students may be more comfortable with the common names.

South Pacific corals include:

genus Millepora

genus Pocillopora

genus Acropora

genus Porites

genus Favites

genus Goniastrea

Specific species can be found in the reference books listed below.

Reference books for coral reefs:

Campbell, Andrew C. The Wonderful World of Life In The Sea. New York: Hamlyn, 1978.

Kaplan, Eugene H. Coral Reefs: Peterson Field Guides. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1982.

Torchio, Menico. The World Beneath The Sea. New York: Bounty Books.

Wood, Dr. Elizabeth M. Corals Of The World. Neptune City, NJ: TFH Publications, 1983.


Materials Needed For The Activity:

    1. A copy of The Living Edens: Palau program
    2. Plaster of Paris sufficient for the number of students in class (approximately 1 quart recommended)
    3. School Paint in a variety of colors
    4. Newspaper
    5. Modeling clay (various colors) for younger students (optional)
    6. Coral Reef guidebooks (From media center, public library, the Internet or the Palau program)
    7. Disposal area for excess Plaster of Paris (Do not flush down drain)
    8. Paint brushes
    9. Space for drying area
    10. Pencils/pens and 3 x 5 index cards
    11. Student science journals
    12. Paper clips for modeling clay if used (optional)


    1. View The Living Edens: Palau. Ask students to sketch select types of coral or take notes on the corals they see while they view the program. Have the students use field guides or other resources to learn more about one of the corals they saw.
    2. Mix half total amount of Plaster of Paris to a thick paste.
    3. Give each student a palm-sized piece of the plaster. Each student should form Plaster of Paris into a dome shape or dome with arms. Place on newspaper.
    4. With additional Plaster of Paris (mixed to a thick paste), students will create coral designs on dome shaped Plaster of Paris base. Use Palau program or coral reference books for design and color.
    5. Dry Plaster of Paris coral models on the newspaper for a few days.
    6. When Plaster of Paris is dry, paint corals according to color guide.
    7. Write the name of the coral (scientific or common name) on an index card. Obtain these names from the reference books listed above.
    8. If using modeling clay, have students form the coral models with the clay and use paper clips to join corals in the coral reef.

Evaluation/Alternative Assessment:

Ask students to study the coral models and the name tags attached to them. Remove the name tags and have a contest in class to determine who is able to identify the greatest number of corals in the model coral reef system.

Ask students to list all of the corals they recognize in their student science journals and submit for evaluation.

Using the Palau program, ask students to diagram and discuss the reproductive cycle of corals.

Display the Palau coral reef in a display case in your school.

Students may also organize a "Save the Coral Reefs" project. This can be done by an organizational meeting where students determine who will establish the theme, collect relevant facts from different resources and evaluate the condition of coral reefs around the world. Students can then publicize the need for protection of the reef environment.

The lesson addresses these National Science Standards:

-develop understanding of structure and function in living systems

-develop understanding of diversity and adaptation of organisms

-develop understanding of populations and ecosystems

Other Sites on Palau:
Maps of Palau, supplied by the University of Texas
Republic of Palau, CIA Factbook
Look here for information on Palau's natural resources, government, topography, climate, demographics, and economy.
Palau Visitors Authority
The official Palau tourism site supplies information about diving, culture, history, and travel arrangements.
Beast of Eden
This Discovery Channel site focuses on the occupation of the Palauan island Peleliu during World War II. Interviews with soldiers, video clips, a slide show, and military history are featured.

Other Sites on Coral Reefs:
Reefs in Trouble
Mother Jones magazine sponsors this site on the world's endangered reefs. Learn why reefs are so important and what types of human activity jeopardize them.
Fisheye View
You'll find an excellent archive of video and still images of corals and fish at this site.

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