This lists the logos of programs or partners of NG Education which have provided or contributed the content on this page. Program Strange Days on Planet Earth

  • Tips & Modifications


    For a collaborative activity, have students use the Australia & Oceania MapMaker Kit. In groups, mark the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland. Then use a highlighter to trace the rivers and their tributaries that lead to the Great Barrier Reef. Ask students to identify how many rivers flow into the reef.

    1. Show students photos and distribute the worksheet.
    Show students the photos of the Great Barrier Reef and a sugar cane field in Australia. Then distribute the worksheet Sugar Cane and the Great Barrier Reef and have students complete Part I. Tell them to use the latitude and longitude information provided to locate the Great Barrier Reef on their map of Australia, and then to look for the northeastern state of Queensland.

    2. Have students brainstorm.

    Write the terms sugar cane and Great Barrier Reef on the board. Brainstorm with students about how the production of sugar cane might be connected to the Great Barrier Reef.

    3. Have students complete and simulate Part II of the worksheet.
    Have students number the statements in Part II. Then write the same ten statements on individual pieces of paper or poster board. Also write “Sugar Cane Production” and “Great Barrier Reef” on separate pieces of paper. Distribute each of the ten statements to a student in random order. Have individual students stand up and read their statements. As each individual student reads their statement, have the rest of the class identify cause-and-effect relationships and tell each student where to stand between the words “Sugar cane production” and “Great Barrier Reef” so the statements are in the correct order.

    4. Have a discussion to prepare students to watch the video.
    Inform students that the connection between sugar cane production and the increase of the Crown of Thorns seastar is a theory and still subject to ongoing research. Large numbers of these seastars consume coral faster than it can grow, reducing the coral cover and disrupting the entire coral reef system. Reveal the correct arrangement of statements. (Worksheet order: 8, 2, 9, 4, 6, 3, 5, 1, 10, 7) Emphasize the human connection.

    5. Watch the video.
    Show Act 5 of “Troubled Waters” from Strange Days. Discuss whether the Australian government should implement measures regulating the production of sugar cane by individual farmers.

  • Subjects & Disciplines

    Learning Objectives

    Students will:

    • use latitude and longitude coordinates to locate the Great Barrier Reef on a map of Australia
    • explain the cause-and-effect relationship between sugar cane production and the increase of the Crown of Thorns seastar

    Teaching Approach

    • Learning-for-use

    Teaching Methods

    • Discussions
    • Hands-on learning
    • Visual instruction

    Skills Summary

    This activity targets the following skills:

    • Critical Thinking Skills
      • Analyzing
      • Understanding

    Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

    National Geography Standards

    • Standard 14:  How human actions modify the physical environment

    National Science Education Standards

  • What You’ll Need

    Materials You Provide

    • Markers
    • Posterboard

    Required Technology

    • Internet Access: Required
    • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector, Speakers
    • Plug-Ins: Flash

    Physical Space

    • Classroom


    • Large-group instruction
  • Background Information

    The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef ecosystem. It stretches over 1,800 miles. The Great Barrier Reef is the only living thing on Earth that is visible from space.

    Prior Knowledge

    • None

    Recommended Prior Activities

    • None


    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    coral Noun

    tiny ocean animal, some of which secrete calcium carbonate to form reefs.

    Great Barrier Reef Noun

    large coral reef off the northeast coast of Australia.

    latitude Noun

    distance north or south of the Equator, measured in degrees.

    Encyclopedic Entry: latitude
    longitude Noun

    distance east or west of the prime meridian, measured in degrees.

    Encyclopedic Entry: longitude





This material is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-1114251. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.