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Environmental Science 101: Labs for Advanced High School Classes

This collection is designed for Advanced Environmental Science and the ecology sections of Advanced Biology courses. It includes three EcoBeaker® labs that are widely used in college Environmental Science and Introductory/Non-Majors Biology courses.

The laboratories in our Environmental Science 101 package are also included in our Complete 101 Collection. If you or your colleagues also teach Advanced Biology, the school-wide Complete 101 Collection is a great choice!

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Environmental Science 101 Labs

EcoBeaker: Isle Royale

This popular laboratory explores basic population biology concepts including exponential and logistic growth and carrying capacity. It is based on the textbook example of a predator-prey system involving wolves and moose on an island in Lake Superior. Students start out by characterizing the growth of a colonizing population of moose in the absence of predators. Next they introduce wolves, and study the resulting predator-prey cycles. Do predators increase or decrease the health of their prey populations? Students investigate this question by sampling the energy stores of moose with and without wolves present. Finally, they try changing the plant growth rate to see how primary productivity influences population dynamics.

EcoBeaker: Keystone Predator

This laboratory recreates the famous experiments of Paine and colleagues in the Pacific Northwest with the sea star Pisaster (and 8 other marine intertidal species). Students do transplant experiments to figure out competitive relationships and sample gut contents to construct a food web. Next they use their data to predict what will happen when each predator is removed from the system. Finally, they do the removal experiments and compare their results with their predictions. This is a great lab in that it explores basic ecological concepts and although it is not difficult, it asks students to think critically, synthesizing experimental data to make predictions. It also provides a nice foundation for discussions of the important roles that different species can play in a community.

EcoBeaker: Nutrient Pollution (formerly "Sewage")

What will happen if your city starts dumping lots of extra sewage into your local lake? Will it become a slimy smelly mess? This laboratory provides students with tools to address these questions. Using a simulated lake containing phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish, they try varying phosphorus inputs, and record and graph the resulting algal and oxygen levels in the lake. They also sample species at each trophic level to determine what would happen if the sewage were to contain a biomagnifying toxin such as mercury. At the end of the lab they write a "letter-to-the-editor" about their findings and provide recommendations for the city regarding how much more sewage can be added to the lake before there will be a serious risk of toxic algal blooms. In colleges, this lab is used widely in non-majors and introductory biology classes as well as intro environmental science classes.

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"I have run through a bunch of the labs and they are perfect for AP* Environmental Science!"