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EPIC Bioscience

Four unique investigations, developed through a National Science Foundation DRK-12 grant, use museum collections to examine multiple phenomena that impact ecosystems and the organisms that live in them. Each investigation takes students through the same research questions and processes used by our own museum scientists and allow students to gather and reason with data they gather through the study of these collections. In each investigation, students will be guided by museum scientists and use digital interactives to engage in their research.

Target Audience: 6th-8th Grades

Standards Alignment:
Utah SEED standard 6.4 and NGSS MS-LS2, as well as, DOK levels 1-4 and ELA Common Core Standards.
Download Full Curriculum Alignment


EPIC Bioscience Investigations:

Insect Apocalypse! (beta version)

Total Estimated Time: 2-3 class periods, 170 minutes

Engage your students in evaluating the impacts of ecosystem change on resource availability critical to animals’ diets. Students will examine how adaptable the diet of bats – critical to healthy ecosystems all over the world - are in responding to changes in their food sources – insects! Students will explore the phenomenon through virtual dissections of bat stomach contents to learn what different species of bats eat. Led by a research scientist who studies bats, they will use museum collections to gather data as they compare and analyze the diets of several bat species. Their research will help them figure out which bat populations are likely to survive, thrive or decline as a result of changes in insect populations.

Part 1: Do all bats compete for the same food resources?
(20-30 minutes)
Part 2: How do bats’ physical features influence what they can eat?
(45-60 minutes)
Part 3: Will bat populations thrive or decline as food resources change?
(20-30 minutes)


To Eat or Not To Eat? (beta version)

Total Estimated Time: 2-3 class periods, 130 minutes

Students will research the factors that drive a unique phenomenon in ecosystems - mimicry! They will explore and conduct research to determine the factors a predator uses to choose - or AVOID - prey. Guided by museum scientists and using the same methods they use, students will build new, transferrable understandings of this relationship dynamic and the impact on mimics in the midst of biodiversity and range changes within the ecosystems they live in.

PART 1: Be the Predator!
How will you find food? Is that prey delicious or disastrous?
(20-30 minutes)
PART 2: How to Fool a Predator
Analyze which physical features influence predator behaviors.
(45-60 minutes)
PART 3: Predicting the Future!
Will rapid changes affect predator-prey interactions?
(20-30 minutes)


Decomposition: It's a dirty job! (beta version)

Total Estimated Time: 2-3 class periods, 120 minutes

Students examine the role of fungi as decomposers in the matter cycle. With engaging interactives they will study the factors that drive faster rates of decomposition and how human activities impact these ecosystem services.

PART 1: Ready, set, rotten!
How long does decomposition take?
(20-30 minutes)
PART 2: Hidden Soil Heroes
Why is matter cycling faster in some ecosystems than others?
(45-60 minutes)
PART 3: Human Help or Harm?
How do human activities affect decomposition and matter cycling?
(20-30 minutes)


Aspen Restoration (beta version)

Total Estimated Time: 2-3 class periods, 120 minutes

Students work with forestry land managers and scientists to evaluate and support aspen forest populations. Engaging interactives will promote observation skills and draw out prior knowledge as students learn how to assess the health of aspen forests. They will gather their own evidence and use the USDA's guidelines for Aspen Restoration to develop recommendations for their chosen study site.

PART 1: Survey
Is this a healthy aspen forest?
(20-30 minutes)
PART 2: Collect
What's happening here?
(45-60 minutes)
PART 3: Connect
What can we do?
(20-30 minutes)
PART 4: Share
What is your recommendation?
(30-40 minutes)



Why Register?

It’s free!

Full access to all investigations and their activities.

Instructional Guides, Research Assistant Notebooks, and more for each investigation.

Assessment rubrics for student learning