Lab Supplies by CED unit in AP® Environmental Science

Here is a list of some labs that are commonly done in AP® Environmental Science by CED unit. You will also need basic lab supplies such as beakers, graduated cylinders, etc.

Introduction to the Course

This lab is often done during the first week or two as an introduction. However, the topic is also covered in Unit 5 and can be done there instead.

  • Tragedy of the Commons:  This lab has many great versions.
    • Colored marshmallows, goldfish crackers, or candy are favorites. Some teachers use beads to be reusable. If you have large classes, marshmallows are the cheapest.
    • Straws or chopsticks
    • Tape
    • Paper plates or paper towels

Unit 1: The Living World: Ecosystems

If you have probeware (sensors), you can use with Ecocolumns in unit 1 and also later with Water Quality Testing in chapter 8. Some teachers also use probeware when studying aquatic ecosystems in unit 1.
Read this post for a review of Vernier sensors
Read this post for a review of Pasco sensors
Read this post for a review of Hanna pH probes

Unit 2: The Living World: Biodiversity

  • Biodiversity:  There are many varieties of this lab that are used including:
  • Pill Bug Lab for Range of Tolerance
    Pill Bugs–collect or purchase.

Unit 3: Populations

  • Cemetery Lab for human population studies
    • No pictures needed if you can walk to an old cemetery
    • Or, pictures of tombstones taken from a local cemetery
    • Or, simulate using paper tombstones in lab, you may want to decorate the lab with Halloween decorations. The dollar store is a good source.
    • Or, use a cemetery database
    • Plastic sleeves to save paper for some of the tables and charts.
    • Vis-A-Vis pens or thin Expo markers if using laminated copies/plastic sleeves

Unit 4: Earth Systems and Resources

  • Soil Quality Labs. There are two main soil labs that are essential:
    • Chemistry of Soil
    • Physical Properties of Soil.
      • Can be purchased in a kit
      • Or individually purchasing materials such as sand, soil, gravel and plastic cups.
  • Soil Profiles made out of food items
    • Plastic parfait cups: one per student
    • Vanilla and chocolate pudding: quantity depends on number of students.
    • Oreo cookies
    • Sprinkles
    • Gummy worms: 2 per student
    • Spoons

Unit 5: Land and Water Use

  • Tragedy of the Commons:  This lab has many great versions.
    • Colored marshmallows, goldfish crackers, or candy are favorites. Some teachers use beads to be reusable. If you have large classes, marshmallows are the cheapest.
    • Straws or chopsticks
    • Tape
    • Paper plates or paper towels
  • Cookie Mining
    • Generic chocolate chip cookies (1 per pair of students)
    • Name-brand chocolate chip cookies
    • Extra cookies to eat when finished
    • Paper clips
    • Toothpicks
    • Scales-pocket or regular (optional)

Unit 6: Energy Resources and Consumption

  • Solar Cookers (usually done after the AP® exam due to time requirements)
    • Aluminum foil–a big restaurant-sized roll from Costco or Amazon will make a lot of solar cookers (40-50 of them)
    • Packing tape or duct tape
    • Masking tape
    • Lots of boxes: I ask the food service on campus for empty boxes
    • Empty cans to test water temperature
    • Plastic wrap
    • Thermometers
    • IR Temperature guns (optional)

Unit 7: Atmospheric Pollution

Using a stereoscope to count particulates

Unit 8: Aquatic and Terrestrial Pollution

  • Water Quality Lab
    This is an expensive, but essential lab. You can do this lab several ways:  
    • An inexpensive kit for the lab
    • If you have a pond or creek to walk to, you may want a portable kit and a couple of hip waders and macroinvertebrate collection devices or kits.
    • Probes or sensors are more expensive initially, but end up saving money over multiple years. See this post for supply ideas for an in-class lab.
    • My favorite inexpensive dissolved oxygen meter is the Milwaukee Dissolved Oxygen Probe.  It rarely needs calibration and lasts for years. Also, fairly inexpensive (for a DO meter) on Amazon.
  • LD-50 Lab: You can do this lab many ways.
    • Use salinization lab results so you aren’t taking time for a new lab.
    • Purchase a kit.
    • Purchase individual supplies for the lab
      • Macroinvertebrates such as brine shrimp or daphnia, or seeds
      • Some kind of toxin
      • Beakers/cups etc.
  • Oil Spill Cleanup
    • Plastic containers or metal pans to hold water and simulate the ocean. One per group.
    • Cotton Balls
    • Straws
    • Plastic pipets
    • Cups or Beakers
    • Vegetable or mineral oil
    • Detergent

Unit 9: Global Change

  • Ocean Acidification Experimental Design Lab
    • Plastic cups: 4-5 per group
    • Shells (ask kids to donate or ask seafood restaurants for oyster, clams and mussel shells). One small shell or piece of a larger shell per group.
    • Vinegar or another acid
    • pH meters or pH strips
    • Scales-pocket or regular
    • Plastic pipets

Other Items

Other Basic Supplies

I use these items frequently for many labs

Sharpies (need 10 black for the year)
Spoons (need 1 box for labs)
De-chlorine drops for fish tanks
Filters for fish tank
Aquarium light bulbs
Fish food
Colored markers (Crayola or similar) for lab conclusion posters
Painter’s tape for marking beakers, lab apparatus
Hand Sanitizer-large container for classroom
Batteries for various sensors and probes

Acid rain chalk drawing

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