Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience > Investigative Case Based Learning > Investigative Case Based Learning Examples > Investigative Case - Living in an Alkaline Environment
Explore Teaching Examples | Provide Feedback

Investigative Case - Living in an Alkaline Environment

Developed by Monica Bruckner, Montana State University, based on the Living in an Alkaline Environment Activity by Sarah Bordenstein, Marine Biological Laboratory.
This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


Living in an Alkaline Environment is a three-part interactive activity that explores the ecology and diversity of life in alkaline environments. Part One analyzes the differences between Mono Lake water and distilled water. Part Two tests the effect of increasing alkalinity on the survival of common soil bacteria. Part Three is a WebQuest which examines the behaviors, adaptations, and diversity of organisms living in and around Mono Lake. Instructors may choose to use a selected activity or all of the activities depending on curricula and time constraints. This three-part activity can be accessed at Living in an Alkaline Environment, part of Microbial Life Educational Resources. Jump directly to part three of the WebQuest.

Learning Goals

At the end of this module, students will be able to:

Context for Use

This activity is appropriate for introductory Geoscience, Environmental Science, and Biology classes for major or nonmajors. It contains both hands-on lab and internet research components in which students learn about water pH, bacterial behaviors in and adaptation to high alkalinity, and the diversity of alkaline-tolerant bacteria. Part three of this activity is a WebQuest. To learn more about the philosophy behind and design of WebQuests, read an introduction to WebQuests.

Teaching Materials

This Investigative Case Study is from the Living in an Alkaline Environment three-part activity, part of Microbial Life Educational Resources. Access materials and information needed to complete this activity.

Key Concepts:

Key Skills:


Teaching Notes and Tips

Living in an Alkaline Environment consists of three major activities. These activities may be utilized as a whole or as individual activities according to topics covered, materials needed, and time required for each. The third activity is a WebQuest that explores the ecology of Mono Lake. For a general description of WebQuests, visit an introduction to WebQuests.

Time (One day is considered to be a 50-minute class):


At the end of these activities, students should be able to:

Student responses should be supported by evidence from credible sources such as peer-reviewed journal articles, textbooks, etc.

Another measure of success for these activities is general student feedback-this may include comments made by students regarding the activity itself, if students continue discussing the topic after or outside of class time, or if students contribute to the discussion with their own thoughtful questions (during the activity itself, subsequent class periods, or outside of class).

National Education Standards

These activities conform with National Science Education Standards. See specific National Science Educational Standards met by Living in an Alkaline Environment.

References and Resources

These activities have been adapted from the Living in an Alkaline Environment module, which is part of the Microbial Life Educational Resources Project. More information regarding this activity may be found at the original Living in an Alkaline Environment site.


Education:Assessment:On Line, Biology:Microbiology

Resource Type

Computer Applications, Activities:Project:Investigative Case Studies, Activities:Lab Activity, Classroom Activity:Short Activity

Grade Level

Middle (6-8), High School (9-12), College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Ready for Use

Ready to Use

Extreme Environments


Earth System Topics



Microbiology, Education:Assessment:On Line, Biosphere:Ecology


Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience

See more Investigative Case Based Learning Examples »