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Laboratory Explorations in Biology (LEIB)

By Ken Bingman



Type of Activity:

  • Hands-on
  • Inquiry lab
  • Authentic assessment
  • Group/cooperative learning
  • Guide to get students to complete an original research project
  • Teaches the methods of science
  • A way to implement part of the National Science Education Standards (NSES)
  • Community outreach (community of learners concept)
  • Prepares students to complete research on their own
  • Involves higher levels of thinking skills
  • Students see a high degree of relevancy between what they learn in the classroom and their own lives

Target Audience:

  • Life Science
  • Biology
  • Environmental studies
  • Genetics
  • Biotechnology
  • Adaptable from 5th grade to college level
  • Gifted
  • ESL (has been translated into Chinese)
  • Below average
  • Average
  • AP, etc.

Questions This Activity Helps Students to Answer

  • Answers the question of how to do research in the classroom with 30 students all participating in teams of four
  • Answers the question that each research team chooses to investigate. Often this involves a population study using Saccharomyces cerevisiae (bread yeast) in which one variable is manipulated, such as pH, temperature, CO2 concentration, pollutants, ultraviolet radiation, species competition, etc. There is a list of approximately 100 research variables available.


Background Information (including rationale)

Notes to the teacher -

The LEIB provides structure to get students to complete a research project in a classroom setting with minimal equipment. The activity takes about 4-5 weeks to complete. I know your first reaction is that you don't have that much time. The NSES advocate that more in depth studies be done in given areas. This is the idea of "less is more." It also means that less "factual content" will be taught. The LEIB involves students learning how to be successful learners as opposed to always following teacher directions on what to do.

Students in this program identify a research problem, develop a testable hypothesis, search the literature for relevant information (including the Internet), design a study with adequate controls, collect, organize and interpret their data, write a conclusion (summary) of their research and then present it to other students and the teacher for analysis of how well it is done. The student presentations are usually videotaped for later reference and also are used as model tape to introduce the LEIB to new students.

The main objective here is to look carefully at the process of how the students conducted their research as well as the product. The research paper that the students write is the authentic assessment. Hints for teacher and student preparation and approximately 100 sample research problems, a seven page overview (LEIB narrative), videos of student presentations, as well as how to organize the class will be available On Line from Ken Bingman. The amount of support material and information available to carry out the LEIB is too large to enter here.

One of the really neat things about Access Excellence is that we get to continue communicating about biology activities and education in the classroom. I hope to capture your interest sufficiently so that you will want to know more. I will be delighted to provide additional information accumulated during the twenty years that I, along with other teachers, have worked on how to facilitate students to be successful with the LEIB. Much of this can be sent e-mail and of course there is always snail mail.


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