The SciTech middle school labs are specifically designed to support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We currently offer seven lab activities for middle school students in grades 6–8.
Students will study the impact pollution has on a Chesapeake Bay food web. They will build a food web model and use it to predict what happens when species' population changes. Students will identify pollutants and explore how they affect the watershed. Using bioluminescent bacteria, they will test the sensitivity of the bacteria after it is exposed to pollutants. Length of lab: 2.5 hours. NGSS Alignment (PDF)
Students discover how to use a water sampler by collecting water samples from the Inner Harbor (weather permitting). They use a dissection scope and learn how to identify different species of organisms living on a biofilm disc. They test the water for temperature and salinity and explore how water quality affects the species of organisms found at different depths. Length of lab: 2–2.5 hours. NGSS Alignment (PDF)
In this lab, students explore the role and function of DNA in living organisms as they extract DNA from food samples as well as their own cheek cells. Students will experience the process of identifying a problem, developing a testable hypothesis, scientifically testing a hypothesis, and interpreting results of an experiment. This lab has the option for students to gain practice writing their own protocols. Length of lab: 2.5–3 hours. NGSS Alignment (PDF)
Students will design their own experiment to explore how temperature affects ocean water's ability to retain carbon dioxide and explore the role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. They will create their own data tables and graphs, and they will analyze and interpret their data collected during their investigation. They will use the claim, evidence, and reasoning framework to construct a scientific explanation. Length of lab: 3 hours. NGSS Alignment (PDF)
In this lab, students will examine histology slides of blood smears, manipulate models of the circulatory system, and understand how sickle cell anemia is genetically passed on working through Punnett Squares and/or pedigrees. Students will learn how to use a micropipette, practice loading samples into an agarose gel, and run protein gel electrophoresis to test a fictional patient for the presence of sickle cell hemoglobin. Length of lab: 3 hours. NGSS Alignment (PDF)
In this lab, students work with bioluminescent bacteria to learn about the importance of natural products in our everyday lives. They will investigate antimicrobial properties of different plants, learn how to use a micropipette, and understand the importance of controls in an experiment. Students will experience the process of identifying a problem, scientifically testing a hypothesis, interpreting results of an experiment, and supporting a scientific claim using evidence and reasoning. Length of lab: 2.5–3 hours. NGSS Alignment (PDF)
In this lab, students develop engineering practices like creativity, collaboration, and communication. They learn about the types of soil that can be used in a rain garden, and they design and test rain garden models to clean and absorb polluted water. Students will collect and compare data on the effectiveness of their models. They will also explore the rain garden installed at Pierce's Park (located outside of the Columbus Center). Length of lab: 2.5–3 hours. NGSS Alignment (PDF)