Los Angeles and the Future of Mono Lake

A Web Quest exploring the biodiversity, natural history, and preservation of Mono Lake

Introduction Task Process Resources Evaluation Conclusion Teachers


Los Angeles and the Future of Mono Lake leads students in a guided exploration of Mono Lake's extreme environment and asks them to consider the preservation of this environment in relation to the needs of humans. It introduces students to extremophiles - particularly alkaliphiles and halophiles- by placing them in a personal and social issue. It uses the theme of students acting as political advisors, chosen to analyze the natural history and biological diversity of Mono Basin in the context of Los Angeles's need to drain water from the area. They are to create a persuasive presentation to be delivered in a mixed forum of Los Angeles citizens and Mono Lake environmentalists. You can be the skeptic and play the role of the devil's advocate.

Additional Mono Lake resources and activities can be found in MLER. Images and classification of microbes from Mono Lake can be found in microscope.


The core of this WebQuest satisfies the following 9-12 National Science Education Standards:

  • Content Standard C (Life Science): The Interdependence of Organisms, The Behavior of Organisms, Biological Evolution
  • Content Standard F (Science in Personal & Social Perspectives): Natural Resources, Environmental Quality, Science and Technology in Local, National, and Global Challenges

Beginning the WebQuest

This WebQuest is designed for groups of three students, each fulfilling an essential role of the advisory panel. First split the class into groups of three and then assign each individual in the group a particular role from the Process section of the WebQuest. A formal Scoping Session is suggested where duties are assigned and where they talk about 'milestones' and timelines. Students will research their roles by answering a set of directed questions- complete with web links- from the Resource section. They may also use additional resources within MLER and images within micro*scope to enhance their presentation. Make sure students read the evaluation rubric prior to beginning the activity.


This is where you- and other teachers or students- can have some fun! To carry out the entire theme of the WebQuest, act as the mayor and invite other teachers or students to act as the mixed forum of citizens and environmentalists. Ask the presenters questions as if they were in a press conference. If the groups are split in their decisions, arrange the presentations in the form of a debate. You can judge the presentations based on how persuasive and informative they are. You may use the evaluation rubric (Microsoft Word 36kB Oct7 04) to assist in your grading.

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