EcoBeaker: Maine Explorer (EBME) uses simulated experiments to engage middle school students in the exploration of ecological concepts within the framework of Systems & Models. All five EBME labs are tied to Maine ecosystems and involve data collection and analysis. In addition, a fun module called "Program a Bunny" lets students tinker with creating their own computer programs. Importantly, EBME is just one part of the EcoScienceWorks Curriculum, which includes field exercises to accompany the computer labs, assessments, alignments, and more!

Read about the EcoScienceWorks Curriculum


The EcoBeaker: Maine Explorer Labs:

Runaway Runoff


Subject Areas: TROPHIC LEVELS, SPECIES INTERACTIONS, NUTRIENT FLOW
Students conduct experiments on phosphorus pollution using a simulated lake ecosystem. By collecting and graphing data, they discover the connections between phosphorus level, algae growth rate, decomposition rate, and oxygen depletion, ultimately illuminating the ecological concept of "eutrophication". View example worksheet [PDF 52K]

Lake Invaders


Subject Areas: TROPHIC LEVELS, SPECIES INTERACTIONS, FOOD CHAINS, INVASIVE SPECIES
Students experimentally investigate how adding or removing top predators in an aquatic ecosystem can have cascading effects that impact species at the bottom of the food chain. The top predators in this simulation model are based on Northern Pike, an invasive species in Maine lakes. View example worksheet [PDF 104K]

Beaverpond Succession


Subject Areas: SUCCESSION, SPECIES INTERACTIONS
Using a simulation of a plot of land where a beaver pond has just been removed, students survey plant and bird populations at different successional stages (grassland to forest). They use a spreadsheet program to graph their population data, and to investigate correlations between plant and bird species. View example worksheet [PDF 116K]

Keystone Predator


Subject Areas: SPECIES INTERACTIONS, FOOD WEBS, COMPETITIVE DOMINANCE
Students conduct simulated experiments to investigate how interspecific competition and predation influence an interesting ecological community found in the rocky intertidal zone. Their investigations show how certain "keystone" species can be especially important, because when they disappear, the entire community collapses. View example worksheet [PDF 44K]

Edgelands and Fractured Forests


Subject Areas: SPECIES INTERACTIONS, HABITAT FRAGMENTATION, EDGE EFFECTS
Students explore the concepts of habitat fragmentation and edge effects using a simulation model of a bird species that thrives in edge habitat preying on the eggs of another species that lives in the adjacent forest. Students conduct experiments to test hypotheses and draw conclusions about how forest fragmentation can impact a predator-prey interaction. View example worksheet [PDF 84K]

Program a Bunny


This module offers a "peek under the hood" of simulation models such as those used in the EcoBeaker Maine Explorer labs. Students create their own routines using CodeBlocks, visually intuitive blocks representing computer code, to program a virtual bunny to find and eat carrots deployed in increasingly complex configurations on a grid. In addition to introducing the basic logic of simulation models and programming, this fun module engages students to try and figure out how to tease apart and solve complex problems. It is highly recommended that teachers start this unit with the associated get-up-and-move "human simulations", which are described in the EcoScienceWorks Curriculum Notebook. View example scenario [PDF 84K]

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For questions or problems with EcoBeaker Maine Explorer, please send an email to: ebme@simbio.com
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