Students with microscopes

Engaging, inquiry-based activities

Neo/SCI AP Biology investigations were designed to address key Essential Knowledge topics through both a model experiment and student-directed independent inquiry projects.

Each investigation is offered in a four-station kit for 16 students and an eight-station kit for 32 students. Consumable reagent refills are also available.

Contact your sales representative for availability and pricing.

Investigation Descriptions

Artificial Selection

In this structured and guided investigation, students will quantify a variable trait and then select about 10% of the plants in the population that strongly expressed that trait. They will isolate the subpopulation from the larger population during pollination and the rest of the life cycle. They will plant the second generation of seeds, raise the plants to a similar life stage as the previous population, and score the variation in this second generation. Students do an inquiry activity to assess why the selected trait is important in the plant’s life cycle. They design an investigation that assesses why this trait offers a reproductive advantage.

Learning Objectives

  1. Investigate artificial selection as a mechanism of evolution
  2. Apply mathematical methods of analysis regarding data sets with the goal to predict what will happen to the population in the future
  3. Investigate how artificial selection acts on phenotypic variations in a population
  4. Evaluate data-based evidence regarding evolutionary changes in populations over time
  5. Design an investigation that focuses on a single trait and its importance in the life history of the plant
  6. Define investigation problems through collaboration
1430625 4-Station Kit (16 Students)
1431201 8-Station Kit (32-Students)
1434108 8-Station Refill Kit

Mathematical Modeling: Hardy-Weinberg

In this guided and open investigation, students will construct a spreadsheet that models how a hypothetical gene pool changes from one generation to the next in a Hardy-Weinberg population. This model’s flexibility allows for the exploration of selection, mutation, and migration parameters that affect allele frequencies. Students use this computer model to pose questions regarding the evolution of allele frequencies in a population. Students can also access more sophisticated model programs for open-ended analysis of natural selection mechanisms.

Learning Objectives

  1. Construct a spreadsheet population model that allows exploration of inheritance patterns and / or allele frequencies in a hypothetical population
  2. Access and use a data set that models a change in the genetic makeup of a population over time and to apply mathematical methods and conceptual understandings to investigate the cause(s) and effect(s) of this change
  3. Apply mathematical methods to model population data predict what will happen to the population in the future
  4. Evaluate data-based evidence that describes evolutionary changes in the genetic makeup of a population over time
  5. Utilize modeling data based on the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium to analyze genetic drift in specific populations
  6. Describe a model that represents evolution within a population
1431258 8-Station Kit (32-Students)

Comparing DNA Sequences to Understand Evolutionary Relationships using BLAST

In this guided, open investigation, students will use the on-line bioinformatics tool, BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool) to compare several genes, and then use the information to construct a cladogram. Students pursue open-ended inquiry by researching relationships that relate to evolution and genetics.

Learning Objectives

  1. Create cladograms that depict evolutionary relationships
  2. Analyze biological data with a sophisticated bioinformatics online tool
  3. Utilize cladograms and bioinformatics tools to query Conditions and relationships that relate to evolution and genetics
1431260 8-Station Kit (32-Students)

Diffusion and Osmosis

In this series of three structured and guided investigations, students use artificial cells to examine the relationship between surface area and volume. They create models of living cells to explore osmosis and diffusion. Students finish by observing osmosis in living cells—to answer the question "What causes my plants to wilt when I forget to water them?" All three activities of this investigation provide opportunities for students to design and conduct their own Independent Inquiry Investigations.

Learning Objectives

  1. Investigate the relationship among surface area, volume, and the rate of diffusion in a model cell system
  2. Design experiments to measure the rate of osmosis in a model system
  3. Investigate osmosis in living plant cells
  4. Design an experiment to measure water potential in plant cells
  5. Analyze experimental data and make predictions about molecular movement through cellular membranes
  6. Relate diffusion and osmosis to cell membrane structure and function
  7. Define investigation problems through collaboration
1430730 4-Station Kit (16 Students)
1431261 8-Station Kit (32-Students)
1434124 8-Station Refill Kit


In this guided and open investigation students conduct pre-lab research on the process of photosynthesis and the physical properties of light. They learn how to indirectly measure the rate of photosynthesis using the floating leaf disk procedure to measure oxygen production. They then use this in vivo technique to independently design their own experiment to investigate the effects of various environmental factors, leaf biometrics and experimental variables on photosynthetic rate.

Learning Objectives

  1. Utilize a biometric approach to design and conduct an experiment exploring the effect of environmental variables on the rate of cellular photosynthesis in plants
  2. Apply and connect concepts which include the relationship between cell structure and function (chloroplasts); strategies for capture, storage, and use of free energy; diffusion of gases across cell membranes
  3. Define investigation problems through collaboration
1430737 4-Station Kit (16 Students)
1431263 8-Station Kit (32-Students)
1434127 8-Station Refill Kit

Cellular Respiration

In this guided and open investigation students first conduct pre-lab research on the process of cellular respiration. They learn how to calculate the rate of cellular respiration by constructing and using a respirometer system that measures the relative volume (changes in pressure) as oxygen is consumed by germinating plant seeds. Students then independently explore temperature, morphology, variety, age-dependence, senescence and seasonality variables during germination.

Learning Objectives

  1. Construct a respirometer system and learn how to manipulate it to measure respiration rates in plant seeds or small invertebrates
  2. Design and conduct an experiment to explore the effect of certain factors, including environmental variables, on the rate of cellular respiration
  3. Apply and connect concepts to understand how various organism and cellular organelles (mitochondria) capture, store, and release energy as well as the diffusion of gases across cell membranes; and the physical laws pertaining to the properties and behaviors of gases
  4. Define investigation problems through collaboration
1430777 4-Station Kit (16 Students)
1431266 8-Station Kit (32-Students)
1434129 8-Station Refill Kit

Mitosis and Meiosis

In this set of investigations, students consider how organisms develop from a single cell by modeling mitosis. They set up a model experiment using onion root tips to assess the affect of a mitogen on the rate of mitosis and perform a statistical analysis of their results. Students model meiosis and crossover events. Students think about genetic diseases and conditions that would put one at risk of inheriting a genetic disease. Students analyze karyotypes to determine chromosomal anomalies as a result of improper segregation of genetic material during meiosis. In a final experiment, students measure crossover frequencies during meiosis in the fungus Sordoria fimicola.

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the events in the cell cycle and how these events are controlled
  2. Explain how DNA is transmitted to the next generation via mitosis
  3. Explain how DNA is transmitted to the next generation via meiosis followed by fertilization
  4. Understand how meiosis and crossing over leads to increased genetic diversity
  5. Define investigation problems through collaboration
1430881 4-Station Kit (16 Students)
1431269 8-Station Kit (32-Students)
1434131 8-Station Refill Kit

Biotechnology: Bacterial Transformation

In this guided investigation, students will perform a procedure that will transform a special strain of E. coli bacteria to express new genetic information using a plasmid system and apply mathematical routines to determine transformation efficiency. Students then have the opportunity to design and conduct individual experiments to increase or decrease the uptake of plasmid by manipulating experimental condition to explore the mechanism of transformation in more depth.

Learning Objectives

  1. Demonstrate the universality of DNA and its expression
  2. Explore the concept of phenotype expression
  3. Explore how genetic information can be transferred from one organism to another
  4. Investigate the concept of horizontal gene transfer and the subsequent increase in genetic variation
  5. Explore the relationship between gene expression and certain environmental factors
  6. Define investigation problems through collaboration
1430887 4-Station Kit (16 Students)
1431271 8-Station Kit (32-Students)
1434133 8-Station Refill Kit

Biotechnology: Restriction Enzyme Analysis

AP® Biology 9 addresses Big Idea 3. In this guided investigation, students begin by familiarizing themselves with gel electrophoresis. They will use restriction endonuclease treated DNA and gel electrophoresis to analyze DNA sequences by creating genetic “fingerprints” or DNA profiles. Students will apply mathematical routines to determine the approximate sizes of DNA fragments produced by restriction enzymes and also solve a forensic mystery.

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand how to use restriction enzymes and gel electrophoresis to create genetic profiles
  2. Use a standard molecular weight curve to determine the base pair size of separated DNA fragments
  3. Compare the banding pattern and base pair size of DNA fragments to solve a forensic case
  4. Define investigation problems through collaboration
1430891 4-Station Kit (16 Students)
1431273 8-Station Kit (32-Students)
1434135 8-Station Refill Kit

Energy Dynamics

In this guided and open investigation, students use mathematical analysis for estimating net , primary and secondary productivity levels in a laboratory setting using a model plant species and Painted Lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui). They investigate what factors govern energy capture, allocation, storage, and transfer between producers and consumers in a terrestrial ecosystem. In the process, they explore basic ecological concepts of energy flow, the role of producers, the role of primary consumers, and the complex interactions between organisms. Students may continue to follow the complete Painted Lady lifecycle through the emergent adult. Adults may be kept in a gazebo for study or released to the environment if desired.

Learning Objectives

  1. Design and conduct an energetics experiment that investigates energy capture and flow in an ecosystem
  2. Explain the concept of ecological energetics, including energy flow, NPP, and primary and secondary producers/consumers
  3. Predict interspecific ecological interactions and their effects
  4. Employ mathematical analyses in energy accounting and community modeling
  5. Define investigation problems through collaboration
1431179 4-Station Kit (16 Students)
1431275 8-Station Kit (32-Students)
1434188 8-Station Refill Kit


In this guided and open investigation, students begin by exploring methods to calculate leaf surface area and then determine the average number of stomata per square millimeter in a particular kind of plant. Next, students select an environmental factor and explore its effect on the rate of transpiration. They also investigate the role vascular tissues play in water movement within plant tissues.

Learning Objectives

  1. Investigate the relationship among, leaf type, surface area, stomate number, and the rate of transpiration
  2. Design and conduct an experiment to explore the relationship of environmental factors on the rate of transpiration
  3. Investigate the relationship between vascular tissues (xylem and phloem) and their functions in transporting water and nutrients in plants
  4. Define investigation problems through collaboration
1431182/a> 4-Station Kit (16 Students)
1431276 8-Station Kit (32-Students)
1434189 8-Station Refill Kit

Fruit Fly Behavior

In this guided and open investigation students explore the environmental choices that wild type fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) make. They construct a choice chamber that is designed to give fruit flies two choices during any one test. They explore the fruit fly behavioral response to geotaxis, chemotaxis, or phototaxis. Students also design and conduct their own investigation based on questions raised during the model experiment.

Learning Objectives

  1. Investigate the relationship between Drosophila melanogaster, and its behavioral response to different environmental conditions
  2. Design a controlled experiment to explore environmental factors that either attract or repel Drosophila in the laboratory setting
  3. Analyze data collected in an experiment in order to identify possible patterns and relationships between environmental factors and a living organism
  4. Define investigation problems through collaboration
1431184 4-Station Kit (16 Students)
1431286 8-Station Kit (32-Students)
1434193 8-Station Refill Kit

Enzyme Activity

In this investigation, students use the catalytic enzyme, peroxidase, to design experiments that explore the effect of temperature and pH on the overall rate of reaction. They will also investigate the parameters of enzyme and substrate concentration on reaction rate.

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the relationship between enzyme structure and function
  2. Formulate generalizations about enzymes by studying just one enzyme in particular
  3. Determine which factors can change the rate of an enzyme reaction
  4. Determine which factors that affect enzyme activity could be biologically important
1431185 4-Station Kit (16 Students)
1431288 8-Station Kit (32-Students)
1434195 8-Station Refill Kit