Carolina EcoKits: Estimating Population Size

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Grades 9—12.
  • Learn how scientists estimate populations of organisms
  • Use simple algebra and graphing skills to estimate population sizes
  • Determine which sampling technique works best with certain organisms
Students explore and evaluate 4 different sampling techniques that are used to estimate population size: transects, quadrats, mark and recapture, and removal sampling. Conducting multiple runs for each method, students estimate population cover, density, and size using basic algebra and graphing skills. Students share their data with other groups, compare their data to the actual numbers, and determine how accurate their estimates are. Kit accommodates 30 students working in 10 groups of 3.
Content standards
This kit is appropriate for high school students and addresses the following National Science Education Standards:
Grades 9-12
Science as Inquiry
    - Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
    - Understandings about scientific inquiry
Life Science
    - Interdependence of organisms
Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    - Population growth
Time Requirements
Preparation: 20 minutes
Activity 1: 30 minutes
Activity 2: 30 minutes
Activity 3: