Digital Offerings

learn science, develop empathy, write a story

Pandemic Pathways

Pandemic Pathways is an interactive storytelling project that offers a chance to...

  • Learn more about the Covid-19 virus and its impacts
  • Explore how many different people are experiencing the pandemic
  • Craft a story about a character that is working to stay safe and enjoy life during the Covid-19 pandemic

map of the United States

What's Going on in This Graph? - Nebraska Edition

What's Going on in This Graph - the Nebraska Edition offers a new post each month featuring a data visualization related to topics of particular interest to Nebraska. Some posts will feature a graph, map, or chart from University of Nebraska faculty or graduate student researchers. These visualizations act as rich texts which can be used as a focal point for students' sense-making discussions.

loopy gif

Playing with Systems

It is a complex and messy world out there.

But sometimes having the right tool can make exploring this complexity kind of fun.

Loopy is a tool for thinking in systems created by Nicky Case. It allows you to quickly sketch system components (as circles) and their interactions (as arrows) and press play to simulate how a system behaves. In no time at all, you will be experimenting with negative and positive feedback loops, testing predictions, and, most importantly, having fun playing with your system creations.

Individual Lessons

bumbledbee on a flower

Conserving Bumble Bees

This standards-aligned, 5-E lesson provides students with a case study approach examining bumble bee population surveys and conservation strategies. Students will examine and evaluate real-world data about the challenge growers face today in conserving important native pollinators—bumble bees. Bumble bees are important pollinators of several high-value crops including tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries. Students will examine data in graphical format to determine if there is evidence of declining bumble bee populations. Then, possible causes for this decline are discussed. Students will examine data to determine which land management conservation strategies in agricultural ecosystems are most successful in attracting and supporting bumble bee populations.

cow muscle

Double the Muscle

Students often fail to realize that a Punnett square represents the process of gene segregation in which the alleles encoding for a trait are separated during the formation of reproductive cells. In this standards-aligned, 5-E lesson plan, students will participate in an activity that allows the abstract concept of Mendelian studies to be applied to a trait easily seen in cattle, through the double muscling trait. Students will use their knowledge of Mendelian inheritance and probabilities to complete a pedigree worksheet that requires them to predict the phenotype or genotype of specific cattle.

white and yellow rice

Golden Rice: A Genetically Engineered Solution to Vitamin A Deficiency

In this standards-aligned, 5-E lesson plan, students will learn about the development of Golden Rice, a genetically-engineered organism, as a way to combat vitamin A deficiency (VAD) in developing countries.

sheep

Selectively Breeding Sheep

In this standards-aligned, 5-E lesson plan, students will explore a real-world application of genetics and Punnett Squares to help them understand how selective breeding impacts the health of livestock.

strawberry

Strawberry Breeding and Genetics

In this standards-aligned, 5-E lesson plan, students will learn about DNA by extracting it from strawberries. Students also analyze the similarities and differences of their extraction process to those of the web-based educational module, Genetic Engineering: The Journey of a Gene. Students learn about how genetic testing (including DNA extraction) is useful in breeding new varieties of strawberries.

Multi-Lesson Units

honeycomb

Pollinators in the Biology Classroom

Pollinators in the Biology Classroom is a standards-aligned, 5-E life science unit that teaches about aerobic and anaerobic respiration, genetics, biotechnology, and food safety in the context of honey bees. Students will learn about genetic factors that influence food resource preference. A gel electrophoresis simulation introduces students to a biotechnology tool that allows scientists to investigate how genetics affect honey bee behavior. A cellular respiration lab will allow students to examine the chemical changes that can ferment honey and how these changes affect food preservation and food safety both in the hive and on our store shelves. Lastly, students will extend their learning to a larger context by exploring the honey bee’s role in socioscientific issues including maintaining a safe food supply and overcoming the challenge of food preservation in areas lacking consistent electricity for refrigeration.

Diagram of a pig's digestive system

Biotechnology - Enviropigs

Biotechnology: Enviropigs is a standards-aligned, 5-E life science unit focused on debating the application of genetic engineering to solve an environmental problem of nutrient pollution. This unit begins by introducing the environmental issue of phosphate pollution related to hog production. After exploring the environmental issue, students will learn more about a proposed solution, Enviropigs. Students will learn more about the biotechnology tools used to create and safety test Enviropigs. The final lesson connects science with language arts as students critically examine various texts and engage in argument from evidence in order to write an argumentative essay for or against the production and commercialization of Enviropigs for human consumption.

Diagram of the journey of a gene

Genetic Engineering: Journey of a Gene

Genetic Engineering: Journey of a Gene is a standards-aligned, 5-E life science unit that adapts the Journey of a Gene online learning modules (https://ge.unl.edu/journey-of-a-gene/) created by Dr. Don Lee for the high school biology classroom. Throughout this unit, students will explore the process of creating genetically engineered organisms and examine their real world applications. The online learning environment provide students with an authentic agricultural scenario with real scientists explaining how genetic engineering is used to solve a disease problem in soybeans. In addition, students will conduct a series of hands-on, minds-on activities including extracting strawberry DNA, carrying out an inquiry-based flower dissection to explore structure and function, and conducting a simulation of backcross breeding. Students will use their learning to address socioscientific problems by designing transgenes to solve a number of real-world food and health issues.

Pine trees

Space Invaders: Ecology and Evolution of Invasive Species

Space Invaders is a standards-aligned, 5-E life science unit teaching about the ecology, evolution, and effects of invasive species as it applies to both natural and agricultural ecosystems. Numerous hands-on, minds-on activities will get students out of their seats to explore a variety of evolution and ecosystem concepts including natural selection, selection pressure, adaptation, evolution, predation, biological control, and invasive species management. Students will examine how factors such as environment, reproductive capacity, and seed dispersal play key roles in an invasive plant species’ success by playing the game, “Space Invaders”.

a person pouring water into soil samples

Sustainable Agricultural Ecosystems

This EPA-funded, standards-aligned unit presents students with a real-world challenge of sustainably using limited natural resources to produce food, fiber, and fuel for a growing human population. The unit integrates life and earth science concepts with engineering challenges to support students in designing a sustainable food production plan for a farm or garden. Throughout the unit, students will engage in science and engineering practices in order to investigate farming practices and their impact on water, soil, and energy use. Impacts explored will include local farming systems and global Earth systems.