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College Products

Non-Majors Biology

Our college-level collections include selections specifically developed with introductory and non-majors courses in mind. These "101 Collection" labs provide an effective, inexpensive, and easy-to-implement option to provide engaging simulated laboratory experiences for topics that are not generally amenable to wet-lab experimentation. While all of our labs have some open-ended exercises, the more directed structure of the 101 Collection labs has made them especially popular for larger classes (where grading can be challenging) and for homework assignments.

Some SimBio Interactive Chapters are also suitable for introductory classes.

Looking for something specific? Search our catalog of college products, or check out our Popular Collections.

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Intro Bio/Non-majors Modules

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Lab (Tutorial): Mitosis Explored
We promise you have never seen a mitosis tutorial like Mitosis Explored. By integrating stunning live video from diverse organisms, interactive animations, and simulated experiments, Mitosis Explored smashes the "memorize the stages of mitosis" mold. This tutorial uses an inquiry-driven, self-guided approach to extend students' comprehension of the mechanics of this important (but challenging to learn) process. Students are able to tinker with the machinery that drives mitosis, solve puzzles, do experiments, and receive lots of instant feedback to check their own understanding. They also explore how mitosis relates to cancer and other diseases.

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Level: Intro
Key Concepts: Cell Cycle | Cell Division | Mechanics of Mitosis | stages/phases of mitosis
Courses: Cell Biology | Intro Bio: Cell/Molecular | Intro Bio: Non-majors
Reviews:
"It was very easy to understand and VERY user friendly (compared to many virtual lab experiences that I have looked at). I especially liked the areas where you presented students with a disease (i.e., Roberts syndrome) or a drug (i.e. Taxol) that interrupted the process and then had students predict the outcomes or figure out what was being interrupted. "
Jamie Jensen, BYU
Lab (Tutorial): Meiosis Explored
Meiosis Explored offers a refreshing new approach to teach this fascinating and fundamental (but challenging to learn!) process. Using engaging simulated experiments, puzzles, dozens of instant-feedback questions, and illuminating animations and microscopy images, Meiosis Explored investigates the how and why of meiosis rather than focusing on memorization of stages and terminology. This tutorial uses an inquiry-driven, self-directed approach that guides students through the events that take place in meiosis and elucidates why they occur in a particular order. One section makes connections with genetics, focusing on how meiosis produces variation in offspring. Another section focuses on disorders that arise from meiotic errors. The tutorial helps students actually understand the differences and similarities between meiosis and mitosis (and works well with the accompanying Mitosis Explored tutorial).
Level: Intro
Key Concepts: Chromosomal Disorders | Crossing Over | Gamete Formation | Independent Segregation | Stages of meiosis
Courses: Cell Biology | Intro Bio: Cell/Molecular
Lab (Workbook): Darwinian Snails Demo video available
An introductory lab that examines the assumptions behind natural selection using an engaging interactive simulation of green crabs preying on periwinkle snails. Students are able to "violate" each assumption in turn to explore whether evolution by natural selection still occurs. Exercises are targeted to address common misconceptions among biology students. Suitable for non-majors and introductory biology courses.
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Level: Intro
Key Concepts: Experimental Design | Genetic Variation | Heritability | Natural Selection
Courses: Evolution | Intro Bio: Eco/Evo/Genetics | Intro Bio: Non-majors | Marine Biology
Reviews:
"[I like] the way [the Snail lab] walks the students through the requirement for natural selection one by one, and shows what happens if each of the requirements isn't met. I also like that it has students working with real data."
Dr. Jennie Hoffman, Everett Community College
"[In the snail lab, I liked] the active student participation. Students were very involved and excited about 'being a crab' and actually eating the snails. Students reinforced their ability to graph data and made use of critical thinking skills; reinforcement of the fact that it is populations, not individuals, that evolve and the factors that effect evolution of populations; the knowledge that they could study an evolutionary process in real time. "
Dr. Laura Pannaman, New Jersey City University
"We completed running 20 Biology sections of Darwnian Snails last week. The laboratory sessions went very well. Most instructors opted to take students to our computer lab and offer help while the students worked at the computer. Some instructors gave students the option of completing the exercise at home. Very minimal problems were reported with the software. ...All in all I saw lots of smiling faculty and heard the comment more than once that this lab really drives home basic principles of evolution."
Dr. Joel Watkins, Schoolcraft College, Introductory Biology Course
Lab (Workbook): Isle Royale Demo video available
This popular laboratory explores basic population biology concepts including exponential and logistic growth and carrying capacity. It is based on the textbook example of a predator-prey system involving wolves and moose on an island in Lake Superior. Students start out by characterizing the growth of a colonizing population of moose in the absence of predators. Next they introduce wolves, and study the resulting predator-prey cycles. Do predators increase or decrease the health of their prey populations? Students investigate this question by sampling the energy stores of moose with and without wolves present. Finally, they try changing the plant growth rate to see how primary productivity influences population dynamics.
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Level: Intro
Key Concepts: Carrying Capacity | Population growth | Predator-prey Dynamics
Courses: Ecology | Intro Bio: Eco/Evo/Genetics | Intro Bio: Non-majors | Population Biology
Reviews:
"We plan to continue to use EcoBeaker software in our Biology 101 labs next year. Student and TA feedback was very positive on both these labs [Isle Royale and Nutrient Pollution]."
Bruce Fall, University of Minnesota, 1,000 Student Introductory Biology Course
"Our experience with [the Isle Royale and Darwinian Snails labs] last Spring in our majors introductory course was excellent."
Dr. Lawrence Blumer, Morehouse College
"Our intro ecology course did the new Isle Royale lab this week and all of the instructors agreed that the new version is GREAT - so thanks for the great educational tool!!!! We all love how you worked global climate change into the new version and we also love the t-test at the end."
Billy Flint, James Madison University
Lab (Workbook): Keystone Predator Demo video available
This laboratory recreates the famous experiments of Paine and colleagues in the Pacific Northwest with the sea star Pisaster (and 8 other marine intertidal species). Students do transplant experiments to figure out competitive relationships and sample gut contents to construct a food web. Next they use their data to predict what will happen when each predator is removed from the system. Finally, they do the removal experiments and compare their results with their predictions. This is a great introductory lab in that it explores basic ecological concepts and although it is not difficult, it asks students to think critically, synthesizing experimental data to make predictions. It also provides a nice foundation for discussions of the important roles that different species can play in a community.
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Level: Intro
Key Concepts: Competition | Ecological Communities | Food Webs | Keystone Species
Courses: Community Ecology | Conservation Biology | Ecology | Intro Bio: Eco/Evo/Genetics | Intro Bio: Non-majors | Marine Biology
Reviews:
"I had great success using your EcoBeaker™ labs, Keystone Predator and Sickle-Cell Alleles, in my BIO102 General Biology II class (4 lab sections, 96 students) this spring semester. "
Dr. Daniel Vogt, Plattsburgh State University, General Biology
"They absolutely loved [Keystone Predator]. … [it] allowed them to quickly appreciate how the biology of the organisms played a role, that the species differed in colonizing abilities, and the concept of a species with an effect disproportionate to its abundance. I was amazed how quickly and effortlessly the simulation taught them a dynamic system. We all agreed that the graphics really work. One of the best features is the integrated abundance values so that you can freeze the action at any point and track individual species as opposed to general trends. "
Paula Philbrick, University of Connecticut
Lab (Workbook): Nutrient Pollution (formerly Sewage) Demo video available
What will happen if your city starts dumping lots of extra sewage into your local lake? This laboratory provides students with tools to explore nutrient enrichment, eutrophication, and bioaccumulation of toxins. Using a simulated lake containing phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish, they try varying phosphorus and nitrogen inputs, and record and graph the resulting algal and oxygen levels in the lake. They also sample species at each trophic level to determine what would happen if the sewage were to contain a biomagnifying toxin such as mercury. At the end of the lab they write a "letter-to-the-editor" about their findings and provide recommendations for the city regarding the consequences of sewage in the lake. This lab is used widely in non-majors and introductory biology classes as well as intro environmental science classes.
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Level: Intro
Key Concepts: Aquatic Communities | Bioaccumulation of Toxins | Eutrophication | Limiting Nutrients | Phosphorus
Courses: Applied Ecology | Aquatic Ecology | Ecosystems | Environmental Science | Intro Bio: Eco/Evo/Genetics | Intro Bio: Non-majors
Reviews:
"We plan to continue to use EcoBeaker software in our Biology 101 labs next year. Student and TA feedback was very positive on both these labs [Isle Royale and Nutrient Pollution]."
Bruce Fall, University of Minnesota, 1,000 Student Introductory Biology Course
Lab (Workbook): Osmosis
This popular lab explores osmosis by letting students visualize molecules moving inside a cell and across the cell's membrane. Their ultimate challenge is to use what they learn about osmosis to compose an intravenous fluid that will not cause red blood cells to expand or shrink. In the course of the lab, students explore osmosis with no, one, two, and many solutes. In the process of exploring the underlying molecular mechanisms of osmosis and osmotic pressure, students manipulate concentrations and conduct experiments to investigate what is meant by "dynamic equilibrium" and throughout the lab use quantitative reasoning to predict experimental outcomes. See our Research page to read how this lab has successfully conquered misconceptions! [One caveat: students who have trouble with ratios may need assistance.]
Key Concepts: Equilibrium | Osmosis | Overcoming Common Misconceptions
Courses: Intro Bio: Molecular | Intro Bio: Non-majors | Osmosis-Diffusion
Reviews:
"The students loved the [OsmoBeaker] simulations and I thought they got more out of them than even they did."
Heather Dietz, University of Regina
Lab (Workbook): Diffusion
This lab confronts common misconceptions about diffusion using engaging simulated molecular-level experiments. The lab first focuses on how individual molecules move under different conditions. It then sets up a fun experiment that allows students to explore whether nerve cells could use diffusion to move materials from the cell body to the synapses at the tips of their axons. Students run races in axons of different lengths and record how long it takes for "peptide" molecules to diffuse down their length. A new concluding exercise explores diffusion in plant leaves, asking whether CO2 molecules that start among high concentrations of other CO2 molecules move faster than CO2 molecules that start among high concentrations of water molecules. By the end of the lab, students not only discover the need for cellular and organ level transport mechanisms, but also overcome some commonly held misconceptions (see our Research page for details).
Level: Intro
Key Concepts: Diffusion | Overcoming Common Misconceptions | Randomness
Courses: Intro Bio: Molecular | Intro Bio: Non-majors | Osmosis-Diffusion
Reviews:
"The students loved the [OsmoBeaker] simulations and I thought they got more out of them than even they did."
Heather Dietz, University of Regina
Lab (Workbook): Flowers and Trees
Introduces students to evolutionary trees using an interactive simulation of Columbine flower diversification. Students observe Columbine populations split and diverge while an expanding evolutionary tree illustrates each population's history. Students further learn to interpret evolutionary trees by creating their own and reconstructing the history of mystery populations. Suitable for both introductory and advanced biology and evolution courses.
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Level: Intro or Advanced
Key Concepts: Evolutionary Trees | Neutral Evolution | Phylogenetic Reconstruction | Tree-thinking
Courses: Evolution | Intro Bio: Eco/Evo/Genetics | Intro Bio: Non-majors | Macroevolution
Reviews:
"I did tell you that I like EvoBeaker very much.  The programs compliment each other really well and I'd love to work with several of them that highlight common ancestor, but I am limited in the time I have. I am going to try to fit in two of them, near the end of the semester.  I think 'Flowers and Trees' with its phylogenetic trees and either Dogs or HIV, to get the sequence comparisons. "
Dr. Robert Hodson, University of Delaware, 600 Student Introductory Biology Class
"I was very impressed with the lab exercises when I ran through them last night — they are not only fun, but move seamlessly through the logic of building cladograms. I will definitely incorporate the lab into my future classes. "
Dr. Robin Andrews, Virginia Tech University
"I just wanted to let you know that we've completed our first lab of the three as of yesterday [Flowers and Trees]. The students thought it was "easy" and yet, were challenged as they continued to work through the exercises. It was not only promising, but reinvigorating for the Teaching Assistants who had taught it prior to this semester. Thank you!! We're looking forward to completing the next one soon."
Dr. Faye Farmer, Arizona State University, Introductory Biology Course
Lab (Workbook): Evolutionary Evidence Demo video available
A powerful lab for introducing students to the evidence that convinces biologists that life on earth evolved. It covers a key piece of evidence for evolutionary theory, focusing on how related species should have nested sets of traits that reflect their evolutionary tree. Students compare traits of evolved species versus traits of independently created species and learn how to quantify the difference. They then use this quantification to predict the order that traits should appear in the fossil record among different species of simulated lizards. Finally, they apply their methods to the real fossil record for a set of 7 extant species.
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Level: Intro
Key Concepts: Common Ancestor | Evidence | Evolution | Fossils | Nested Sets | phylogenetics | theory
Courses: Evolution | Intro Bio: Eco/Evo/Genetics | Intro Bio: Non-majors

"We plan to continue to use EcoBeaker software in our Biology 100 labs next year. Student and TA feedback was very positive on both these labs [Isle Royale and Nutrient Pollution]."

Bruce Fall, University of Minnesota

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