Environmental Science

Bean Plants Version 2.0
In this long-term project, you will be planting nine beans and tracking their growth for about six weeks. You need to keep all your procedures the same throughout the experiment, so it's important that you write down all of the materials and steps at the beginning. For this homework assignment, you will determine the following for this experiment: Question What is the question that you would like to answer with this experiment? Include an independent (what you are changing) and a dependent (what you are measuring) variable. Some examples of independent variables include using fertilizer, changing the temperature of the water that you’re using to water the plants, limiting the amount of sunlight the beans get, treating the beans differently before planting them, and more. Some examples of dependent variables include the time needed to germinate, the height of the plant, and more. You should phrase your question as: “How does independent variable change the dependent variable?” Materials You will have exactly 9 beans. Write this down as part of your materials. Write down the other materials you will need in order to perform this experiment. Procedures Write down the procedures that you will follow over the next 2 – 3 weeks. You should be using about ¼ cup of water when you water them and you should plant the beans about ¼ – ½ inch below the soil. Hypothesis Make a hypothesis about what you think will happen by the end of the experiment. Include numbers, such as exactly how high you think the beans will grow. This hypothesis should answer your question! Data Use the charts below to help you keep track of your data. You will start recording the height of your beans once they sprout (germinate).
Bean Type of Bean Height (in cm) per day
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Effect of Fertilizers on Plant Growth


  1. Design an experiment in which only one factor is varied: fertilizer, dosage or plant.
  2. Decide on a measurement: number of plants that die, the number of the top ten (or bottom ten) leaves that yellow.
  3. Administer the fertilizer, wait one week and make the appropriate measurements. Analyze the data.
El Nino Webquest
In order to complete this Webquest, you will need to find several different websites that have information about the El Nino effect.  Each question needs a different source; you should write all of your answers in this Word document and e-mail me your saved document once you are finished.  Just like voting, save early and save often! Note: When you are doing Google searches, it helps if you can rephrase or reword what it is that you are looking for.  Google doesn't care about small words like "is," "do," "on," etc.  What you are looking for is several different sites that discuss the topic, and then you can choose information from several sites at the same time.  Keep each site open in a different tab so that you can easily flip between all of the sites that you find.
Effects of Solar Intensity and Heat on Seeds
Description Using beans, hot plates and either natural or artificial light, design a lab to determine the effect of solar intensity and of heat (separately) on the growth of bean plants. Some notes:
  • The surface of the hot plates will scald the beans. You need to use some other material to buffer the heat when heating up the beans.
  • There are two variables in this experiment. You will need to have four groups: One group where you control both variables, one group where you control the solar intensity and change the heat, one group where you control the heat and change the solar intensity, and one group where you change both.
  • Each group should have at least three beans, and ideally as many as possible.
  • Since you have two variables, you will need two null hypotheses.
Ecological Footprint
Worksheet for helping you calculate what you emit
Consumption / activity Your use (and units) CO2 factor (lb CO2) Annual emissions
Residential Utilities
Electricity KWh 1.5 lb/kWh
Oil gallons 22 lb/gal
Natural gas therms 11 lb/therm
Propane / bottled gas gallons 20 lb/gal
Cars gallons 22 lb/gal
Other motor fuel gallons 22 lb/gal
Air travel miles 0.9 lb/mile
City bus miles 0.7 lb/mile
Greyhound bus miles 0.2 lb/mile
Trains miles 0.6 lb/mile
Taxi / limousine miles 1.5 lb/mile
Household Waste
Trash Pounds 3 lb/lb
Recycled items pounds 2 lb/lb
Halocarbon Products
Refrigerators / freezers (number) 830 lb each
Car air conditioners (number) 4800 lb each
Total Annual Greenhouse Gas Emission (pounds CO2)
  1. Average U.S. emissions of CO2 per person is 19.1 tons. How does yours compare?
  2. Why do you think yours is bigger or smaller than others?
  3. What are the biggest things you could do to reduce your carbon impact?
Arctic & Greenland Glacial Melt
Background As of mid-2010, glaciers around the world are melting at record rates, much faster than some of the most pessimistic predictions. Take this article from the Washington Post, “The Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier, one of the largest glaciers in Greenland, swiftly lost a 2.7-square mile chunk of ice between July 6 and 7, NASA announced late last week. The ice loss pushed the point where the glacier meets the ocean, known as the "calving front," nearly one mile farther inland in a single day. According to the space agency, the new calving front location is the farthest inland on record.” This movement wasn't unusual except for the fact that it was caught happening in real time. Of course, it's historically unusual, as glaciers should remain constant over the course of a year, with melting equalling addition via snow. And since ice reflects sunlight better than ocean water, the more ocean water there is, the warmer the entire Earth gets. So the melting of glaciers becomes a positive feedback loop very quickly. Procedures In this lab, you will measure the “solar constant” which is the amount of heat produced when direct sunlight falls on one square centimeter of the Earth's surface in one minute. You will measure on two surfaces, one that approximates the heat absorbed by ice and one that approximates the heat absorbed by ocean water. You will devise and construct an instrument to measure the maximum amount of heat produced by sunlight falling on this square centimeter, making sure to make a null hypothesis. You will need a data table for recording your measurements of heat at intervals of 30 seconds for about five minutes. Finally you will calculate the solar constant for both cases and compare in a lab report.
Endangered Species
  1. Develop a code of ethics for a recreational activity that can injure or harass wildlife. Investigate the problems that recreational activities cause for threatened and endangered species. For example, determine what problems boat traffic causes for endangered marine or freshwater species such as whales, manatees, giant otters, and corals.
  2. Develop a Boating Code of Ethics that will help prevent or minimize harassment and injury to these species. Other activities to examine include birdwatching, wildlife photography, sport hunting, sport fishing, and SCUBA diving and snorkeling. Can you think of others?
  3. Develop a Code of Ethics for any of the activities, send your proposed Code of Ethics to an organization involved with the activity, and ask for the group's comments.
  4. Choose an endangered or extinct species and create a series of diagrams showing species relationships in that ecosystem and what happens when one species is removed.
    1. Draw a diagram showing what the animal eats, what other animals compete for the same food, and what animals eat the animal, its young, or its eggs. Other relationships you can portray in your diagram include where the animal nests (in a certain kind of tree, for example), what other animals compete with it for nest sites, and what pollinators (e.g., bees, bats) are needed to pollinate its food plants. Can you think of other relationships that are important?
    2. Remove one of the species in the diagram and analyze what is likely to happen to the entire web of relationships. Draw a new diagram representing the new relationships.
  5. Write a children's story. Write a story for children about an endangered or extinct species. Go to the children's section of the and look at picture books to get ideas. Keep audience and purpose in mind as you write: at what age group is your story aimed? what is the main point or feeling you want to convey about this animal? Create a story board as you respond to the following questions:
    1. From what point of view is the story written? (i.e., who is the narrator?)
    2. How will you use setting?
    3. How will you develop the theme, the plot, and the characters?
    4. How will you use external and internal conflict?
    5. How will you show rising action?
    6. What is the story's climax?
    7. Can you build in symbolism and irony?
    8. How will you illustrate the story?
Fuel: The Movie
  1. How much of the world’s oil reserves are located in OPEC countries?
  2. Why is the area that makes gasoline in Louisiana called “Cancer Alley?”
  3. What are the only three ways to dispose of the toxic waste produced by oil refineries?
  4. What is the difference in fuel economy between diesel and gasoline vehicles?
  5. Does biodiesel contribute more to carbon emissions?
  6. What percentage of the world’s population do Americans make up and how much CO2 do Americans produce?
  7. How much of the world’s oil do Americans consume and how much of the world’s oil reserves does America have?
  8. What is “runaway global warming”?
  9. What modifications need to be made to diesel engines in order to run on biodiesel fuel?
  10. What are the levels of toxic diesel fumes inside school buses compared with outside buses?
  11. For every one unit of energy put in to making gasoline, how much energy do you get?
  12. What are the two main biofuels in the US today?
  13. For every unit of energy put in to making biodiesel, how much energy do you get?
  14. What is one way to deal with existing carbon emissions from coal and natural gas power plants?
  15. What is biomass and how could it be used for fuel?
  16. What is marginal land and how could it be used?
  17. How much of America’s electricity could be generated from wind power?
  18. How many turbines would be needed to generate 100% of America’s electricity?
  19. How much solar panel installation would be necessary to generate 100% of America’s electricity needs?
  20. What would be the benefits of plug-in hybrid cars?
  21. What are the advantages of a “vertical farm”?
Final Project: Plastic Bottle Greenhouse
Under my supervision, you will design and build a plastic bottle greenhouse. There are many plans online for doing this, but we will set about making one with the plastic bottles I have collected and any more that you can collect over the next two weeks. As a group, you will submit a plan and start to work on preparing the materials. Look online for ideas and existing plans that you would like to work with!