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What is a Reef Ball?
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1998 RBF Awards
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Coral Degradation



RBDG Possible Educational Projects

We have over 50 ideas here to help teach children about the sea.

  • Visit a water treatment plant.
  • Have students study global communities that depend upon the sea for financial livelihood. What happens to the community when the natural resources are exhausted? Study Newfoundland to find out.
  • Complete an Internet search and compose a "marine card catalogue" by bookmarking excellent sites and creating an actual card catalogue of sites and valuable information to be found on the sites. Send a copy of your "catalogue" to another school.
  • Find a local "force for change" in your community. Support the "force."
  • Make this year "The Year of the Ocean" in your classroom. Divide your class into seven groups. Each group will be responsible for creating an informational almanac of one of the oceans.

Reef Ball Lesson Plans (Florida State System Example)

Note: These plans can stand alone as current and dynamic lessons that meet the Florida Sunshine State Standards.

How the Plans Were Born--

Being a Force for Change

Virginia Shearer, the Educational Director for the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, invited teachers Laura Shellhorse and Fran Squires to write curriculum that could accompany an exhibition of modern art in the summer of 1998. After studying the words and works of the artist, the teachers realized that German artist Joseph Beuys was not only an artist. he was an environmentalist, he was a visionary, he was an activist. Joseph Beuys was a "force for change," and that "force" became the focus of the their interdisciplinary unit.

Reef Balls Demonstrate the Power of Being a Force for Change

Joseph Beuys believed in making a difference. He wanted to better not only his hometown and home country. he also wanted to better the planet. Involving the Reef Ball Development Group, Ltd., a group of local people who are trying to make a global difference, just seemed like the perfect fit.

The teachers wrote a unit in which language arts, social studies, fine arts, and science curriculum strands form a modern tapestry of learning experiences. The Reef Ball Lesson Plans are a part of the larger "Force for Change" unit.

The Complete Unit

If you would like to expose your classroom to the words and works of twentieth century artist Joseph Beuys, you may order the complete unit. Please note that the unit is "flexible." It is completely adaptable for whatever grade level you may teach. The unit is based upon the moving quotes of the artist, and teachers can adapt the unit for all levels, from elementary school to graduate school.

Please contact Virginia Shearer, Educational Director for the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art to order the complete unit.

5401 Bay Shore Road
Sarasota, Florida 34203
941-359-7777 TEL
941-359-5892 FAX


Joseph Beuys was a force for change. He was an environmentalist, and many of his multiples, his works of art, have environmental themes.

Todd Barber, CEO of the Reef Ball Development Group, Ltd., is a force for change. He is an environmentalist, and his "multiples," eco-friendly, concrete artificial reefs, are being planted on the floors of the seven seas. Barber lives in Sarasota.

Mr. Barber agreed to visit Laura Shellhorse's and Fran Squires' classroom to talk about his invention with the students. He brought in models of the reefs, and he explained how he invented the concept and how the modules work.

Involving a local environmentalist in the teaching of Joseph Beuys has turned out to be a rewarding experience for everyone. Students are indeed inspired by living "forces for change."



  1. Have students respond in their journals to the following quote.

    "Pure reason is green!" That's it! It means that we can't allow ourselves to be guided by like and dislike; we must only be guided by what the situation requires. Then we can expect. we don't want to hope at all that man in fifty years time will have a relationship with nature which is fifty or 100 percent better than at present, and so on in a hundred or two hundred years time." (97)

    --Joseph Beuys

    Lead a discussion in which students share their journal responses.

  2. Have students collect newspaper clippings and editorial pieces in a social studies almanac. Help students become aware of local, state, national and worldwide environmental issues.
  3. Research a local body of water. Find out from a primary source if any environmental issues are centered on the water. Invite a speaker to come to talk with the class.
  4. Find out what types of life live in local waters. Have students research organisms. Create a class book about the local waters. The book can contain local lore, factual pieces, historical pieces, pictures, scientific pieces, poetry, news clippings. you name it! Have your students design an informational plaque about the body of water for the public. Invited local officials to attend a dedication of the plaque.
  5. Study the coral reef system. Show video clips and underwater photographs. Find pictures that will stimulate writing. Do not give away what the pictures are every time. Let the students discover what is being pictured.
  6. Go to an aquarium. Make a video while you are there. AVID Cinema software is awesome. does your school have it? If so, you can edit videotapes with ease. Add music, special effects, titles. you name it. The best part is that it is easy to use.
  7. Conduct an Internet scavenger hunt. Make up questions in advance and have your students cruise the Reef Ball web site. The Reef Ball Foundation's address is
  8. Show reef ball slides. Discuss the benefits of reef balls. Encourage students to think metaphorically. Pen a metaphorical reef ball poem.
  9. Contact students who have built reef balls. Write letters and send e-mail.
  10. Find the environmentalists in your community. Invite them to speak to students. Have students come up with a way to thank the environmentalists. Hold a reception and call the local news.
  11. Show students that action is all it takes to get something done. to make a difference. Have students come up with a way for your class to make a difference. Hold on for the ride because they will get excited!
  12. Research other "artificial" materials that are environmentally healthy. (Recycled materials etc.)
  13. Make art. have students make pins, ink pad stamps, T-shirts, post cards, posters or necklaces with an environmental message.
  14. Have students come up with an environmental program to implement on campus. Ideas: A literary garden, A multi-cultural garden, a recycling program, a cistern for conserving water, a pond, an outdoor labeled nature trail, an outdoor classroom, an aquarium in a common area.
  15. Visit local natural wonders. Have students journal silently about the experience while they experience it. Teach imagery through this experience.
  16. Have students compose a poem of place. The poem should be about a place that the student would never want to be harmed or changed. Display the poems.
  17. Invite a local scuba diving shop to give a presentation to your class.
  18. Invite a local fishing captain to speak to your class.
  19. Calculate how many Reef Balls it would take to line the state of Florida or any other land mass.
  20. Conduct a "do you know what this is?" survey. Show people a picture of a Reef Ball. Ask the people what they think it is. Record your answers and display your findings visually.
  21. Make a list of similes. A Reef Ball is like& & .compare your similes to leads in newspapers and magazines.
  22. Design a cartoon based upon the Reef Ball. I can visualize a marine motel right now.
  23. Design an informational post card.
  24. Design a bumper sticker.
  25. Design an awareness poster.
  26. Design a plaque to place on a Reef Ball.
  27. Design a "chain link" so that your school can involve the community in deploying a Reef Ball. Make a chain long enough to stretch from your school to the body of water the Reef Ball will call home. Call the press!
  28. Make a push pin Reef Ball map. learn geography in the process.
  29. Study fish netting and gill netting and discuss how Reef Balls can help to stop over harvesting of fish stocks.
  30. Study the sale of live rock in the aquarium market. Find out about using dynamite to harvest aquarium rock. Compare and contrast gathering live rock to aqua culturing Reef Balls. Write an editorial letter.
  31. Design wearable art.
  32. Organize a beach clean-up day in your community.
  33. Design a magnet.
  34. Read great classics about the sea such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (7th), Robinson Crusoe (6th), The Old Man and the Sea (11th), The Open Boat (12th), Mutiny on the Bounty (5th), The Cay (6th), The Shark Beneath the Reef (7th). Don't forget Wallace Stevens's poem "An Idea of Order at Key West," either. (college) Sea lore galore. read it all.
  35. Invite the local Coast Guard Auxiliary to speak to your class. Have them bring all of their overheads. Pick and choose what you would like to have them cover (such as basic boating terminology).
  36. Make a reef out of papier-mâché in your classroom. Have the whole class build the reef (I made a short tunnel with holes), and have each student make a creature. Wear jeans to school for a month!
  37. Invite a local restaurant to provide your students with a cultural experience such as providing an extra extra large order of calamari for the students to nibble on on a Friday afternoon.
  38. Take your students to a sea food restaurant for lunch. Hopefully the owner will be absolutely wonderful about telling dramatic stories. Captain Eddie of Captain Eddie's in Venice, FL, comes to mind as a perfect host. Find one in your community.
  39. Urge your students to write appreciation and thank you notes. Model giving and accepting behaviors for them every day.
  40. Study ocean pioneers. Create an "underwater tunnel of fame" in your classroom (even if you do live in Atlanta).
  41. Watch Captain Planet in your classroom. Check out what CNN has to offer students.
  42. Have a parent scan all great channels on a weekly basis for documentaries and specials on sea life. Parents love to help and students love to watch.
  43. Study the water cycle. seven seas. Current events should be a big part of the almanac.
  44. Make a dictionary of marine lingo.
  45. Write, "Who Am I" poems about pioneers in the marine world.
  46. Have students identify local people who are indeed "forces for change." Let students write letters to people in the community. Invite each identified "force" person to choose seeds to plant to represent his or her force. Students can oversee the design, planting and maintenance of a local and symbolic "force for change" garden.

Please Share

If you implement any of the lesson plans listed above, or if you develop any of your own, please share them. We would love to hear about what you are doing in your classroom.

Copyright Laura Shellhorse and Fran Squires 1998

Table of Contents | What's a Reef Ball? | Grant Program | Corporate Sponsorships | In The News
Gallery | Educational Resources | Marine Reserves | Why Reefs Die | Buy a Model

RBDG Need more information? Contact us:
Reef Ball Foundation
890 Hill Street
Athens, GA 30606 USA
Phone: 770-752-0202
Fax: 770-360-1328

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Reef Ball Coalition

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