Amazing Aerosols 2Amazing Aerosols: Small Specks, Big Effects (Earth Science, Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, Ecology, Oceanography)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Earth Science (ES.1, ES.2, ES.7, ES.9, ES.10, ES.11, ES.12, ES.13); Elective: AP Environmental Science (Topics: 1.A-D, II.B, II.E, IV.C, VII.A,B, VII.C)

Even when our air looks clear, it contains billions of nano- to micron-scale solid particles and liquid droplets known as aerosols. Because they provide one of the greatest uncertainties in understanding natural and man-made changes in climate, aerosols are the subject of a wide spectrum of current scientific research. Aerosols are also a topic of intense interest among scientists exploring engineering approaches to correcting atmospheric and climate problems. In inquiry-based, hands-on activities, students will use satellite imagery and data, simulated cores, and probeware to examine the role of aerosols in the ocean and atmospheric processes, climate trends, ecosystem health, desertification, watershed hydrology, and geoengineering research.

Lesson Requirement: MSiC instructor will need classroom access to the Internet for use of Google Earth and other Web resources. 


Climate DetectivesClimate Detectives: Live-ly Clues to Earth's Climate History
(Earth Science, Biology, Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, Ecology, Oceanography)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Earth Science (ES.1, ES.2, ES.10, ES.11, ES.12); 2010 Biology (BIO.7, BIO.8); Elective: AP Environmental Science (Topics: II.D, VII.B)

Living organisms have a fascinating array of adaptations for climate and for variations in temperature and humidity, but what else can they tell us about earth's vital mysteries? Explore how living and fossil plants and animals provide important clues to climate trends, tectonic plate movements, and changing conditions in land, oceans, and atmosphere through our planet's long history. 


Crunch This

Crunch This! (Physics)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Physics (PH.1, PH.2, PH.4, PH.6, PH.7)

How does the design of the crumple zone of a car maximize safety and minimize damage during a crash? During this inquiry-based lesson, students will utilize their creativity and knowledge of force, mass, acceleration, impact, and momentum to design and test the crumple zones on remote control cars. Students will use video and measurements taken with probes during car crashes to analyze their designs.


Ecology on the Half ShellEcology on the Half Shell (Biology, AP Biology, IB Biology, Earth Science)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Biology (BIO.1, BIO.8); Electives: AP Biology (Essential knowledge 4.A.5, 4.A.6, 4.B.3,), IB Biology (Sciences Practices 1, 2), AP Environmental Science (Topics III.A, IV.F)

Explore the “Tragedy of the Commons” in a whole new way! An introduction to the Chesapeake Bay and its oyster fishery will transition into an activity in which students will contrast oyster harvesting techniques in their own oyster reef models. Students will be asked to evaluate their harvesting methods and develop strategies for optimizing oyster harvests in a sustainable fashion.

Lesson Requirement: Calculators


Epigenetics2Epigenetics: Beyond the Punnett Square (Biology, AP Biology, IB Biology)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Biology (BIO.5); Electives: AP Biology (Essential knowledge 2.B.2, 3.A.1, 3.A.4, 3.B.1, 3.B.2, 3.D.4, 4.A.3, 4.C.2), IB Biology (Science Practice 1)

How do the letters in a Punnett square relate to the inheritance of a physical trait? How are alleles translated into proteins? What does it mean for an allele to be “recessive” or “dominant”? Can environmental experiences be “passed down” to offspring? This lesson addresses these and other questions. The fundamental version of this lesson teaches how an allele is manifested as a genetic trait via transcription and translation. In the advanced version, topics move into the realm of histones, cell receptors, and epigenetics. It is quite possible that what you are may be influenced by your grandparents’ experiences.


Facts Fictions and FinchesFacts, Fictions, and Finches: Understanding Evolution (Biology)

Standards of Learning: Biology (Bio.6, Bio.7)

Did humans descend from monkeys? Is the earth old enough for evolution to have occurred? What evidence for evolution do we find in fossils or Galapagos finches? Find out the answer to these and other questions as we explore the science behind the most troubling theory in biology. Discussion and hands-on activities will address evolutionary myths, the age of the earth, the fossil record, and finch speciation.


Forays with Forams2Forays with Forams (Biology, AP Biology, Earth Science, Ecology, Environmental Science, AP Environmental Science, Oceanography)

Standards of Learning: Earth Science (ES.1, ES.2, ES.8, ES.9, ES.10); Biology (BIO.1, BIO.7, BIO.8) Elective: AP Environmental Science (Topics II.A, II.D, VII.B); Elective: AP Biology (Enduring Understanding 2.C, 2.D, 4.A, 4.B)

Foraminifera, nicknamed “forams,” are single-celled organisms that have inhabited earth’s marine and brackish waters for at least 550 million years, with thousands of species in both the fossil record and modern waters. Although forams are small, their importance to science is enormous! Because of their diversity, abundance, and sensitivity to environmental conditions, forams are used in petroleum exploration, stratigraphy, archaeology, coastal and estuarine ecology, and paleoceanography. They are especially important indicators of changing conditions in oceans and estuaries, and of local and global climate change. Using hands-on activities and 21st-century technology, students will explore how forams help reconstruct ancient ocean conditions and track human impacts on the Chesapeake Bay.


Light Harvesting by Plant PigmentsLight Harvesting by Plant Pigments (Biology)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Biology (BIO.3, BIO.5, BIO.8); Electives: AP Biology, IB Biology

Students will explore how plants have adapted to collect and utilize light energy. They will use a Vernier Spectrovis spectrometer to produce an absorbance spectrum of the pigments in plant leaves. Content includes an overview of leaf structure and the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis.

Special Needs: Safety goggles for students


Nanoscale Processes2Nanoscale Processes in Hemoglobin Function (Biology, AP Biology, IB Biology)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Biology (BIO.1, BIO.2, BIO.5); Electives: AP Biology, IB Biology

The properties of hemoglobin emerge from its quaternary structure; slight modifications in that structure can compromise its function, resulting in diseases such as sickle cell anemia. In this lesson designed for students in Honors, AP, and IB Biology, students will use the free software program Cn3D to examine the molecular interactions that determine the level of protein structure. By manipulating 3D computer models of normal vs. sickle cell hemoglobin, students can see how a point mutation changes a hydrophilic R-group into a hydrophobic one, resulting in the oxygen-bonding deficiencies characteristic of sickle cell anemia. Includes an overview of hemoglobin’s cooperative binding that gives rise to the oxygen dissociation curve.

Lesson Requirement: Computers (2 students per computer); advance installation of the free software Cn3D by the classroom teacher and/or school technology staff.


Subcellular Self Assembly4Subcellular Self-Assembly (Biology, AP Biology, IB Biology)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Biology (BIO.4, BIO.5); Electives: AP Biology, IB Biology

The formation of microtubules and viral capsids occur via self-assembly within a cell. Both processes demonstrate the need for weak bonds, specific shapes of components, and energy via Brownian motion. In this lesson, students will explore how complex biological processes and structures emerge from nano-scale processes. The self-assembly of microtubules will be explored and following an overview of the mechanism of viral infection, students will use hands-on activities and brainstorming sessions to learn how viruses assemble capsids using biomolecular templates. The role of Brownian motion and hydrogen bonding in self-assembly processes will be addressed.


Seaing is Believing "Sea-ing" is Believing: Investigating the Possibility of Clean Energy Using Salt Water Fuel Cells (Chemistry, Physics)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Chemistry (CH.1, CH.3, CH.4); Physics (PH.1, PH.3, PH.4)

Salt water fuel cells provide clean energy transfer, green technology, carbon footprint reduction. Students will investigate MgO fuel cells as a redox reaction using a saltwater electrolytic cell by building and powering a saltwater fuel cell car. Students will need calculators and a basic understanding of chemical reactions; stoichiometric math will be reviewed.

Room Requirement: An open space to run cars is necessary.


The Color of Quantum

The Color of Quantum (Chemistry, Physics)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Chemistry (CH.2); 2010 Physics (PH.12)

Fireworks, neon signs, and LEDs produce an array of beautiful colored light. Amazingly, the light emitted is due to the movement of excited electrons. In this lesson, students will conduct hands-on, inquiry-based investigations using LED lights, gas discharge tubes, and probeware that will guide them through the structure of atoms, properties of matter, periodic trends, and the fundamentals of Quantum Mechanics. Students will also discover how the knowledge and application of Quantum Mechanics and nanotechnology are used in many of the products we use every day.


Tornado Alley

Tornado Alley: Understanding and Forecasting Severe Weather (Earth Science, Environmental Science)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Earth Science (ES.3, ES.13), Environmental Science

Severe weather, including thunderstorms and tornadoes, impacts the state of Virginia on a regular basis. In this lesson, students explore the nature of severe weather phenomena as they learn how scientists work together to collect data, make observations and draw conclusions about upcoming and past weather events. They will take on the role of virtual storm chasers as they analyze a weather dataset to determine if a supercell thunderstorm is likely to “drop” a tornado. Students will use a laptop or Chromebook computer to investigate Doppler Radar Images to forecast a developing tornado and determine its strength on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.


Underground EscapadesUnderground Escapades (Earth Science, Environmental Science, Ecology)

Standards of Learning: 2010 Earth Science (ES.1, ES.2, ES.7, ES.8)

Virginia's caves have long fascinated scientists, explorers, and tourists. Besides their obvious beauty, the Commonwealth's karst landscapes provide homes for unusual living species and major water supplies for many citizens. However, this amazing terrain is highly susceptible to pollution because of the way water flows in karst. Join us in an exciting underground journey where student karst detectives will create caverns and sinkholes, track contamination in a karst water supply, and solve the mystery of a polluted spring.