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1996 Access
Excellence Collection

An archive of the favorite classroom activities submitted by high school biology and life sciences teachers participating in the Access Excellence program.

Agarose Gel DNA Quantitation

Students will be looking at agarose gels to compare a known DNA sample to an unknown sample to determine the quantity and size of an unknown DNA sample.

Alcohol Tolerance in Drosophila and You

In this activity, students develop and run a laboratory comparing alcohol tolerance in flies with and without the ADH enzyme.

The Annual Skinner Box Rat Training Competition

Can organisms lacking complex reasoning skills learn to preform a series of tasks? What techniques could be used to facilitate this learning? How does this type of behavior differ from other types of behavior that are important to any organism's survival?

ASPIRIN (Assess Simulated Presentation Involving Realistic Injury Now)

ASPIRIN is designed to integrate concepts in general biology and general chemistry with clinical and emergency medicine on its most fundamental level

Backyard Birding - Research Project

Students take ownership of projects through construction of their own bird feeders in the classroom, maintaining a journal, designing a research project, and communicating findings in a poster presentation.

The Beaks of the Finches

In this simulation students become birds and are given "beak-types". After completing the activity, students will relate results to adaptations and natural selection.

Beginning Statistical Inquiries into the Scientific Method: Jelly-Side-Down

This activity describes how scientists use the scientific method to answer questions about the world around them.

Better Body Books, Inc.

Students will work in groups of 2-3 people to prepare a book about the human body that is suitable for a 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade student.

Biology Mural Project

The mural activity allows students to express their knowledge in an unconventional mode which encourages creativity, analytical skills and cooperation within a group.

Biotechnology in Agriculture: Non-surgical removal of fertilized embryos from the Bovine Uterus

Students will simulate the step-by-step procedures needed to non-surgically remove embryos from the uterus of a superovulated cow using the Kalver training cow.

Bodies in Motion

The "Bodies in Motion" project includes statistics, biomechanics, sports, growth and development, and kinematics, the study of how the human body moves in space.

The Cell

This lesson is designed to help students visualize plant and animal cells, understand the parts of a cell and their functions and distinguish plant cells from animal cells.

Cell Observation Exercise

This activity helps students to learn the difference between cell types, determine cell sizes, and to correctly use a microscope to so.

Cell Organelles

This activity forces students to analyze the structure and function of various cell organelles.

Cell Project

When the project is complete students will know what a cell is and where cells are found.

Changing Attitudes about Nature Through Bird Identification

This lesson teaches students to appreciate nature, though it is disguised as bird identification.

Charlie Four Star: A Case Study

This case study allows students to engage in a debate dealing with the allocation of scarce resources.

Chefs of the Week

This project was designed for a Human Physiology class. It can be modified for any class which covers a nutrition unit.

Chromosome Shuffle

The Chromosome Shuffle activity is designed to clarify and reinforce student understanding of the cellular processes of mitosis and meiosis.

Coho Salmon Enhancement

The Coho Salmon Enhancement Project requires hands-on experimentation, cooperative and interdisciplinary learning, community involvement, data analysis, and career awareness.

"The Collaborative Group--Information Collection, Interpretation and Dissemination Technique"

The essential question answered by my activity/approach is "How are the concepts and processes I learn in Biology relevant to my other classes, to my life, and to my community?"

A Constructivist Version of the Snail & Elodea Lab

This activity is designed to be used very early in the school year and provides a great deal of information on how well the students understand the importance of having a control when setting up an experiment.

Contraction In Action

This activity is designed to help the students visualize not only the structure of a sarcomere, but the actual physical action, and the rapidity, of its contraction and relaxation.

Create a Field Guide of Local Plants.

This activity will help students answer questions about the types of vegetation which are growing around them and help them develop plant identification and classification skills.

Creek Teach

Students develop lessons which they teach to younger students in a type of outdoor education camp.

Determination of Phylogenetic Relationships Using Restriction Analysis

A series of very exciting and innovative laboratory activities dealing with evolutionary molecular biology has been conducted over the past two years.

Developing Personal Connections to Nature through Plant Drawings, Scientific Observations, Sense Surveys and Journal Writings

These activities encourage students to develop personal connections to nature.

Dinosaur and DNA Days

This is a unit on biotechnology whose primary goal is todemystify biotechnology and bring it to the level where a literate citizen can understand its principles, general techniques, and potential applications.

DNA Fingerprinting for High School Biology

In this laboratory investigation students work with several of the tools and techniques used in genetic engineering.

DNA Profile Analysis

One DNA segment (locus), a VNTR denoted D1S80 (Kasai et al. 1991), is analyzed in this activity.

The East River Project of the ECO-CLUB of UNIS, New York

The ultimate objective of the East River Project is to establish high school participation in the resolution of the East and Hudson Rivers pollution and development problem.

Ecology and Biome Unit

This unit integrates biomes, communities, and human ecology in a way that produces a deeper understanding and better ability to apply the principles involved.

Effects of Environment on Memory

This activity helps students answer the question: what effect does environment have on memory. It can help students analyze their own study habits and draw conclusions about their work behaviors.

Environmental Monitoring Adventure

Involvement in this project gives the students a feeling of being able to do basic research to identify a serious problem.

EnviroQuest: A Statistical Study of Three Biomes

This project helps students recognize that connections exist between biology and mathematics.

Enzyme Action

The purpose of this activity is to work with models of substrates and of enzymes; to test the digestion of lactose with lactase; to determine if digestion of lactose has or has not occurred.

Field Trip to School

This lesson focuses on the collection and examination ofinsets to help students to better understand the diversity and adaptations of living organisms.

Fish Farm: an open ended, student centered laboratory activity

This activity has been developed in order to provide students with an open ended problem to solve over an extended time period.

Fossil Hunt

This activity is structured to allow students to experience the puzzle solving part of science.

"From Reefs to Rocks!"

This particular unit was designed to use the unique geologic features of Iowa to teach the concepts of evolution andbiodiversity.

Herbal Medicines

In this open-ended multicultural lab activity, students investigate the effectiveness of herbal remedies.

High School Students Experience Feelings of Being Handicapped

Students will be able to contrast past and present treatment of, and facilities for, the developmentally disabled.


Each student chooses his favorite insect to share with the class.

An Interdisciplinary Course In Evolution

An interdisciplinary evolution course was developed at City Honors School to address the lack of evolution in most science curricula, counteract the threat to scientific literacy posed by scientific creationists, and meet the needs of students by providing a framework for significant intellectual growth.

Investigating the Uses of Backyard Bacteria

The purpose of this lab is to recognize that the answers to some of society's industrial challenges may lie right in our own backyards.

Isopod Activity

This activity helps students to understand the methods used for scientific analysis.

Genetics: Integrated with History and Art

In Biology class the students worked cooperatively in pairing chromosomes, created statistical genetic babies using the face lab, constructed a color DNA booklet and demonstrated mitosis in a flip book.

Hands-on Dinosaur Science: Investigating Animal Form and Function

This activity is actually a series of four separate, but related, laboratory sessions dealing with the biology of dinosaurs.

High School Marine Science at its Best: Research Collaboration

This activity/project helps students formulate a more accurate understanding of the true nature of scientific research and the challenges and rewards of field investigations.

"Hippocratic Medical Rounds"

Biology teachers and students can role play such figures as Mendel, Darwin, Leeuwenhoek, and Harvey to compare worldviews and to illustrate how ideas have changed at key times throughout the history of science.

The Human Genome Newsletter

THGN is an authentic forum for student research, original laboratory or literature, historical, or creative expression.

An Interdisciplinary Deer and Human Population Study

This activity helps the student to answer the question "What environmental problems arise due to animal and human overpopulation and what might need to be done to combat these problems?"

The Jelly Bean Problem

In this activity students are challenged to eat some candy as a cell would need to do it. By solving this problem students simulate the cell process called endocytosis.

Job Hiring - Who's the Best Candidate?

This activity requires that the students evaluate the responses of job candidates applying for the position of research scientist for a major biotechnology company.

Jumpy Dolls

Jumpy Doll construction is a culminating activity in a unit on the muscular system. Students are challenged to design and construct a jointed figure that moves in a motion something like jumping jacks when a string is pulled.

lambda DNA Fingerprinting Simulation

The purpose of this lab activity is to demonstrate (through simulation) how DNA fingerprinting (or DNA profiling) might be used to solve a crime.

Life Beyond the Fifty Yard Line -- An ecological look at our backyard

This activity takes an in depth look at micro ecosystems near the school.

Life Science and Biotechnology Laboratory Research

The process of extended laboratory research helps students experience how scientific information is obtained. A variety of scientific methods yield the information upon which we build scientific knowledge and understanding.

A Limnology Study of Drainage Ditches

Students are required to chemically test the water, observe microscopic organisms in the classroom and screen the grab sample for macroinvertebrates.

A Living Watershed

Using the local watershed as a classroom, students have the opportunity to understand basic ecological concepts, conduct scientific inquiries, understand the interdependence between science, technology, and mathematics in an urban community, develop competency in the use of technology equipment, and develop co-operative working relations.

Maine Black Bear Research and Field Study Activity

This "bear study" activity is one which I designed to involve students in seeing that learning can take place in a number of places and involve a number of different sources of information.

Make a Frog Sandwich, a constructive introduction to dissection

For the students who ask, "Do we get to dissect in Biology?" or those who ask "Do we have to dissect in Biology?", the Frog Sandwich lets students choose how they will learn some comparative anatomy.

Martian Mummies

Biological Inquiry in the "Raiders of the Future" NSTA/TAPESTRY Project

Medical Consultation Role Play

This activity is designed to function as an authentic assessment after the study of the human muscular system.

Mentors for Elementary

This project dispels the fear of science and creates a desire to learn science in the elementary students.

Microbes & History: Microbial influence on the spread of Civilization

The following activity will show the student how to extract plant fibers from the flax plant Linum usitatissimum in the process of making linen fibers.


This project focuses on the challenge of creating a sustainable, self-contained ecosystem in a ten-gallon aquarium.

Migrating Monarchs and Trekking Timber wolves on the Internet

This project is a yearlong tracking and migration project using the monarch butterfly, the timber wolf, and the Internet.

Modeling Limits to Cell Size

This investigation provides students with a 'hands-on' activity that simulates the changing relationship of Surface Areas -to- Volume for a growing cell.

Modeling Mendel's Pea Experiment

This modeling activity allows students to discover for themselves what Mendel uncovered in his famous pea experiments.

One, Two, Three. TMV

This is a six-eight week research project in which student teams investigate the nature of infection of various plants by Tobacco Mosaic Virus.

On the Microbe Trail: An Introduction to Bacteria and Aseptic Technique

This activity is a series of exercises that introduces students to bacteria and aseptic microbiology lab techniques.

An Online Project - Comparing Terrestrial Ecosystems in Different States

In this project students will investigate the similarities and differences in soils from different states with an analysis of its physical and chemical properties.

An Opportunity to access and use the Internet for Research and Study.

This activity is a synopsis of how a classroom in a rural school was able to begin an introduction to the Internet (WWW) for 9th and 10th graders.

Outdoor Classrooms for the 90's Student

There are so many ways to motivate students to appreciate nature, but I have found nothing that works as well as setting up an outdoor classroom.

Paleoanthropology: Making journal research accessible (to high school students).

In a one semester human evolution elective, I want my students exposed to original reports of important hominid finds published in Nature.

Pesticides and Eggshell Thinning.

Students analyze the calcium content of egg shells as an introduction to the toxic effects of pesticides on biological systems.

Photodocumentation: Promoting Environmental Education Through the Development of Visual Literacy Skills

This group activity is an alternative to more traditional forms of scientific investigation. Photodocumentation permits students to view an ecosystem in anon-traditional manner by using a camera for data collection.

Photo Essay Semester Project

This assignment is a photo essay and an interview with a person associated with a student's chosen topic.

Photosynthetic Pictures--Are Worth More Than a Thousand Words

This activity provides an opportunity for students to observe and examine how carbon dioxide, water, and light produce glucose/starch through a process called photosynthesis.

Prairie Fieldwork Unit

The key objectives for this activity are to expose students to the prairie environment and to engage them in prairie management activities.

"Prairie Restoration and Prairie Ecology"

During the fall ecology unit, students collect real data as they identify and classify native prairie plants and insects.

Project Legacy

Using publicly owned land to help incorporate cooperative group research skills into the science curriculum.

Project SETI.

This project helps students answer the question of how to search for life in outer space.

Project Wetlands

The goal of Project Wetlands is to make science come alive for students so that what is done in the classroom can be transferred to real world experiences.

"Sampling Variation in a Natural Population"

Students will gain a greater appreciation for the diversity of living things by personally collecting data on variation in natural populations of their own choosing.

Science Super Saturday

Science Super Saturdays provide an opportunity for high school science students to demonstrate their knowledge in a unique setting.

Simulation of Laparoscopic Surgery Lab

The simulation of laparoscopic surgery enables students to practice and to learn the technique for the very first time.

Skagway School Hatchery Involvement

Students are given the opportunity to use what they are learning in their other academic courses, as well as in the hatchery class.

St. Louis River Watch

This project is designed to provide participating students with a hands-on field sampling experience in environmental science.

STS Biology - Teaching Controversial Topics

Each of the three activities submitted presents difficult science topics in the context of the human experience.

Supermarket Science: The King Sooper Lab

Successful completion of this activity requires that students read product labels, compare fat, sodium, and sugar contents of various food items, and then make judgments regarding the comparative "healthiness" of the available items.

Tenebrio molitor

The purpose of this lab will be to study the influence of various environmental factors on the behavior of the insect, Tenebrio molitor.

There's Always Room for JELL-O©

The purpose of this activity is to observe the effect of some common detergents on JELL-O©.

Using High School Students to Teach Biology to Deaf Elementary Students

This is accomplished by traveling once a month to the elementary classroom with activities / lessons that have been selected and prepared by the older students.

Using an Observation Log to enhance studies in biology

This can be a very worthwhile and rewarding experience for students. Students "act like" scientists as they record details of their organism(s) appearance and behavior.

"Using Cichlids To Demonstrate the Effects of Human Activity On Ecosystems"

A teaching unit developed, mainly by students, to use the Lake Victoria ecosystem as an example of an aquatic environment, its homeostasis, and the effects of man's activities on the homeostatic balance.

STS Biology - Teaching Controversial Topics

The fluid exchange activity is designed to simulate the uncontrolled spread of a disease through a population.

The Water Drop Project

This activity is intended to help students discover the microorganisms that live in water.

Water Walk

Students take a field trip along a local body of water; conduct a visual survey to discover information about local land use and water quality; document their findings by mapping and profiling the water body; and use this initial investigation to raise questions about local land use and/or water quality issues that may require further study.

Who Dirtied The Water/Clean Water: Is It Drinkable?

The activities are interdisciplinary in nature and involve the use of critical thinking and analysis to solve a problem.

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