6 Environmental Science

Last update: June 3/20

Note: This list of resources has not been vetted by a subject matter expert. If you or someone you know is a qualified environmental science instructor who is interested in reviewing and potentially expanding this list, please contact BCcampus Support.

Campus Weather Station

From Open University: “Live data from The OpenStem Labs weather station on the Open University campus — principally for use by users of the ARROW radio telescope and the George Abell observatory. There is also a link to live weather data from The Teide Observatory in Tenerife — the site of our OpenScience Observatories.” Requires a free Open University account.

Controlling Water Activity in Food

Food science. From MERLOT: “In this virtual laboratory, learners test water activity levels of dried corn and explore how they change under three different storage environments. The interactive animation guides users through the theory and practice of sampling a food product, using a water activity meter, and setting up replicates, to build familiarity with concepts and procedures used in real food science labs. Before beginning this lab, it may be useful to complete Virtual Labs — Understanding Water Activity.” Requires Flash.

Eating for Energy

This is a video about bat ecology in southwest England. Students can calculate a number of cattle and area of pasture needed to sustain them, then interpret some data about different food types over the season. There are discussion questions about types of food and preferences and how they may change over the season. Requires a free Open University account.

Lab Directory for Virtual Paleobotany

From MERLOT: “An in-depth and very detailed virtual lab manual with definitions, pictures, and a wide range of topics from plant structure to biogeography.”

Leaf Structure as Environment Indicator

Botany. This is a nice overview of leaf structure in different environments. Has good images and activities with a little quiz. Could be used as part of a plant or photosynthesis lab. Requires a free Open University account.

Maps and Landforms

Great series of exercises on map reading. UK-focused: the grid reference section has British examples and all the maps are in the UK. The exercises are still useful and you could either skip the grid reference section or use it anyway. A couple of small problems that students should know about in advance (e.g., slide 8 is blank). Requires a free Open University account.

Measuring Levels of Nitrates in Spring Water

Virtual lab on ultraviolet–visible spectrophotometry in which you measure the levels of nitrates in water samples. Requires a free Open University account.

Pesticide Analysis with GC-MS

This is a very good gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) simulation. Has a database of mass spectra to aid in identifying each GC peak.

pH Scale and pH Scale: Basics (PhET) (CC BY)

The first activity shows the pH of common items and how it varies with concentration. The second activity is part of the first.

Sorting Out Soils

Virtual field trip to examine various soils around the River Teign in Devon County in southwest England. Requires a free Open University account.

Testing for Corn Mould

Interactive food science module teaches basic laboratory techniques for testing corn for toxins. Requires Flash.


Citizen science project to map every tree in Britain. Fun exercise with a map and “adding” tree species (comparing tree species) to determine economic and ecosystem benefits such as carbon sequestration. Very much focused on trees in the UK, but still interesting to play around with. Fun complement to an introduction to biosphere or ecosystem ecology lab.

Variation in Vegetation: The Heather Hypothesis

Environmental science. This is a great series of exercises about vegetation patterns and drainage. Requires a free Open University account.

Virtual Courseware for Earth and Environmental Sciences

A series of activities, labs, and quizzes about various earth and environmental science concepts, such as earthquakes, global warming, geologic time and dating, and river processes. The earthquake module is also available in Spanish.

Virtual Microscope for Earth Sciences

This could be used for many different subjects: mineralogy, petrology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, ore deposits, etc. Excellent resource with dozens of rotatable hand samples and zoomable thin sections of rocks and minerals (visible in both PPL and XPL, in some cases). Requires a free Open University account.

Virtual Ocean Dives

Google Play or Apple Store application. From Open University: “A VR opportunity to experience a series of dives in a submersible at key locations around the world. The dives are designed to provide students with 3D interactive visualizations of the complex ocean and how ocean processes vary across the planet. When integrated with exercises around scientific observations or critical real-world problems, such as ocean acidification, it will provide students with an opportunity to gather observations from a submersible and experience practical ocean science.”

Virtual Paleobotany Lab

From MERLOT: “The Virtual Paleobotany Lab contains the background material and instructions for 12 lab exercises from a UC Berkeley course on paleobotany. The online pages have links to black and white drawings and colour photographs of the plants being described; there is a detailed glossary, and each lab ends with several questions for a student to think about.”

Virtual Petrographic Microscope

Useful for many subjects, such as mineralogy, petrology, sedimentology and stratigraphy, ore deposits, etc. Many rock and mineral samples observed through a microscope.


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Virtual Lab and Science Resource Directory Copyright © 2020 by BCcampus is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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