I recently experimented using LED tap lights as an alternate to using stereoscopes in the Airborne Particulate Lab. You can read about the lab on this post. This is a great lab for kids to practice experimental design.
They work with a little finesse. Here is what the kids need to use:
Students need to focus on the vaseline above the grid. If they focus on the graph paper, they won’t see any particulates. They need to hold the hand lens about 3-4 centimeters above the petri dish. That way it focuses on the particulates.
This method does work, but it takes a little more practice from the kids to see the particulates.
Tropospheric Ozone Formation (ground-level ozone in smog)
Stratospheric Ozone Depletion (the ozone hole)
Acid Deposition (Acid Rain)
Supplies for Chalk Drawing
I use chalk, because it is the most economical (and eco-friendly) choice. The best chalk is from IKEA–seriously. A few boxes will last the entire year or more. Since I teach 170 students in APES, this is the best option for me.
You can write on lab tables if you have the standard science black finish. If not, you can draw with chalk outside.
Instructions for Chalk Drawing
My students follow the instructions on this document. I do not have them look up information and make their own drawing, because I do not want them looking up and copying diagrams on the internet. I want them to draw out the processes with the details and specifics that have been asked on released AP® Exams. They will learn when they use their brains to make pictures.
We do the 3 drawings on separate days so that students keep the details separate in their brains. Each processes takes about 20 minutes to do and my students work in groups of 4.
I check the drawings when they are fineshed and then they erase with water and paper towels. It is an activity that truly helps students learn the complicated processes needed for the AP exam.
* AP® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse this site.
I give students “The Great APES Booklet” at the beginning of the year and tell kids to keep as reference. I find these booklets are better than a syllabus to convey information needed periodically through the year.
In the booklet, I have information about websites they need to access, extra credit, apes binder, late work etc.
My students’ favorite lab is building and taking care of Ecocolumns. This lab gives them practice in long-term data collection and a myriad of other essential topics in APES. Here are the posts you can click on to learn how to build, buy supplies and assess ecocolumns.
I really like this biomagnification activity from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I discovered this activity in a Monterey Bay Aquarium workshop at a conference I attended a couple of years ago. Its accessible for different levels of learners in regular NGSS Biology and regular Environmental science and has enough technical science for AP® kids.
The materials are easy to use and cheap. My school laminates for me to make the items durable for many years.
This activity focuses on POPs-Persistent Organic Pollutants and then plastic pollution in the ocean, but we discuss mercury pollution in top predatory fish as well.
How to do the Biomagnification Activity
The instructions from the Monterey Bay Aquarium are easy to follow, but here are some pictures that may also help.
I use the center lab table in my lab, but you can do this outside or inside on the floor. I spread them out and don’t worry about turning them all over. I tell students they can only “hunt” with one hand and place the molecules in the other hand.
Students need to tally their POPs only. Then, they write their POP total on a mini post-it note.
The first round is all the phytoplankton–about (15-20 students). The second round is all the zooplankton (about 8-9 students), then the sardines (5-6 students), salmon (2-3 students) and finally 1 human. After the phytoplankton hunt, the other hunters during their round take the tally of POPs on the mini post-it-note from the previous trophic level and then continue to hunt on the table.
After the simulation, students answer questions, read and annotate/highlight.
I make copies of pages 8-10 of the document for my students. This is nice, easy and meaningful biomagnification activity for my students and leads well into Water Quality.
Students in science classes often have differing math abilities and its difficult to cover math without boring some kids and losing other kids. One way to approach is to allow student to have choices on how to approach the math problems. This is a form of differentiation and allows kids to take ownership of their own learning. To do this method, you will need videos of your math lessons. This is not a onerous task. I usually record a worksheet in just 15 minutes on the Explain Everything app. I upload to Youtube, or Google Drive and share the links on Google Classroom.
Since videos are recorded, students can go at their own pace and direct their learning.
Introducing Differentiation to Students
Kids do well when they understand “why”. I go over the Immediate Goal with them:
To practice how to do various energy word problems in order to get a good grade on Exams, the Final Exam and the AP® Exam.
And the Ultimate Goal:
Life is made of word problems. You can use these skills as you analyze household bills, your car’s fuel efficiency, purchasing decisions, etc. Some of you will also need these skills in your career.
Directions for Students
Skim your paper/s
Make a choice on how to proceed
A. Work through problems on own–persevering through difficult ones until your brain clicks and you have an “Aha” moment. Check answers with key when finished. Sample Answer Key:
B. Work through problems on own, when stuck for longer than 1-2 minutes on a problem, check solution and answer on key. Then, go onto the next problem without the key.
C. Work through the easier problems on own, skip the harder ones. Then, watch the video to check answers on the easier ones and to learn how to solve the harder ones. Fast forward the video to the problems you need help with. Example Video Below:
D. Watch the videos in their entirely to learn how to solve the problems.
NOT an Acceptable Choice: Copy the solutions and answers from the key or from a friend. You will earn a bad grade on your next exam, the final exam and the AP® Exam.
Tell your elbow part which one you are going to choose and why
Can you switch later? Absolutely
Can you start one way and then change? Absolutely
Grade your students not only on completion, but also for following one of the choices. Rotate around the room to make sure they are on task. Accountability comes when students take an exam and know or don’t know how to do the problems.