Population biologists have developed several methods for sampling a population. In this lab, the student will use the sampling technique known as the "mark and recapture method" to estimate the size of a population of wild beans! Students will compare their estimation of the population size obtained from lab data to the actual population size and calculate their percent error.
This lab is very easy to set up and very easy to clean up. No fancy materials are required, and yet, I find this to be one of the best labs that I use with my biology students. Students will carry out a sampling technique called the "mark and recapture method" that is often used by scientists when conducting population studies. The lab requires that the student carry out the sampling technique, collect data, complete mathematical calculations, and answer thought provoking/problem solving questions. This lab is perfect for reinforcing critical thinking skills.
This lab is appropriate for students in grades 8 - 12. The experiment and collection of data is easily completed by students in these grades. The differentiation in ability levels comes in the analysis questions. For younger students, it may be necessary to omit the last 2 or 3 analysis questions. You will receive both an editable Word document and a PDF of this lab in your download.
I use this lab when teaching my unit on Population Ecology. It is the perfect activity to use with my PowerPoint on Population Ecology.
1. To learn the "mark and recapture" technique for estimating the size of a population.
2. To calculate the size of a population from given data.
3. To make predictions about the size of a population under various conditions.
Materials required for this lab:
• Brown lunch sack
• White Beans (dry)
• Beaker or Cup
• Red Kidney Beans (dry)
This document consists of 10 pages. The student handout is 6 pages long and consists of Title, Introduction, Purpose, Materials, Procedure, Data Table, Equations, Calculations, and Analysis Questions.
Also included is a 4-page teacher guide. This teacher guide includes preparation tips for setting up the lab, sample data, and answers to all questions found in the student handout.
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