Several video clips are embedded in the virtual lab. The videos help reinforce many of the concepts presented in the lab; however, students do not need to watch all the videos to complete the lab.
For students who have some training in chi-square statistics, this lab provides a valuable application and review of the test. For students who have never done chi-square analysis, it may be helpful for teachers to introduce the topic, providing additional background information and practice problems, before students attempt the analyses in the virtual lab.
If students complete the virtual lab (fully or in part) as homework, they can print out a progress report to provide as documentation to their teacher. Students can type their names in the progress document prior to printing it.
Students can also send their progress report via email. Students should enter their names into the progress report, click "print," save the PDF file on the computer, and email the file to the teacher.
Both Experiments 1 and 3 include a "staining" procedure in which students stain fish to more easily see the skeletal structures. Students can skip this staining procedure in one or both experiments to save time.
Another timesaving strategy is for students to limit the number of specimens they score in Tutorial 1 and Tutorial 2. Once students are comfortable scoring specimens, they should move on to the appropriate experiment.
Suggestions for Classroom Discussions
Some students may indicate that parts of the virtual lab seemed repetitive and time consuming. Teachers could take this opportunity to discuss with students that lab research can be repetitive because scientists need to repeat experiments and collect data from many specimens. To start the discussion, ask students how long it took them to score 20 fish, then calculate how long it would take them to score 500 fish. This will give students some idea of what a scientist does in the lab.
Teachers can also use the Key Concepts to lead a classroom discussion on how this virtual lab provides evidence for EACH key concept.