OLogy: Create a Coral Reef

Make a 3D diorama!

All you need are pasta, Play-Doh, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, and hair curlers.

Hi, I’m Amy O’Donnell, an educator at the American Museum of Natural History. I am fascinated by coral reefs and the creatures that live near them.

Did you know that giant coral reefs are built by thousands of tiny organisms called coral polyps (pah-lips)? The outside layer of a reef is alive. A coral polyp produces a cup-shaped skeleton around itself. The inside layers of a reef are made of the skeletons of dead coral, some of which lived millions of years ago.

Today, I’m going to show you how to make a model of a coral reef called a diorama, a 3-D scene set against a painted background. Dioramas come in many sizes. Like Museum scientists and artists, I love to make scientific models of different kinds of organisms from interesting materials in my classroom. I use these models to help people understand how these creatures live and their amazing body forms.


Biology, Ecology, Oceanography
K-6

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