G. Bio. Labs

Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Fri Jan 31 17:25:08 EST 1997

At  1:31 PM 1/31/97 -0800, Deborah A. Cook wrote:
>So, does anybody out there have any ideas about lab exercises that may
>be more investigative, that work or demonstrate some important
>biological phenomenon in some way, and don't cost much to do?


There are some on my web pages...some are more nearly standard
and others are more investigative.  I am more investigative in
my plant physiology class than the others.  But one of my faves
in the botany class is the Mystery Plant project.  While the
regular labs are going (anatomy, morphology, plant groups, etc)
the students are raising plants on their own.  At the first day
the students get a coin envelope with the contents of a seed
packet and a key to the greenhouse (for the term).  The first
lab project is a tour of the greenhouse and how to pot plants.

They plant seeds and grow up their own mystery plants.  During
the semester they decide on what to investigate, what to measure,
what to report on at the end.  The term report on the Mystery plant
is due on the last class day.  The students seem to like the mystery
of identity, and the challenge to fully describe their plants and
projects in the term report.  At first there are complaints about
my suggestion that it will take about 30 pages to do a good job.
At the end they are wondering if there is a maximum because they
have learned so much.  Peels, sections, clearings, physiology
experiments, anything is game.  The cost is minimal...some few
seed packets...but I do have to be careful to get plants that
can make it to fruit by the end of semester.  Good choices are:
Mimulus, Snapdragon, Petunia, Ageratum, Helipterum (a bit large).
I am trying others this semester to see how well they do in our

The students work with spare time after lab exercises, and
come in on their own time.  They drag me into the greenhouse
and/or lab frequently with new discoveries about their plants.
It seems to generate considerable excitement.

One student, in particular, who was doing poorly on the exams
last year LOVED this project and really wrote the most comprehensive
and thorough paper on her mystery plant project.  She spent a
lot of time on it, and in the end learned a tremendous amount
of botany.  Her whole attitude toward the subject changed through
the semester because of this one project.  She ended up with a
fairly good grade.


Ross Koning                 | koning at ecsu.ctstateu.edu
Biology Department          | http://koning.ecsu.ctstateu.edu/
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA   | fax: 860-465-4479

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