Create a Coral Reef

Amy with her coral reef, a coral polyp

Hi, I'm Amy O'Donnell. As an educator at the American Museum of Natural History, I help students in New York City explore cool topics such as animal behavior, ecology, biodiversity, Earth science, and dinosaurs.

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.
 
What You'll NeedWhat To DoCool Coral Facts
What's a Museum Diorama?Taking Your Diorama to the Next Level