Featured in PASCO’s Advanced Biology through Inquiry Teacher Guide

Advanced Biology through Inquiry Teacher Guide


This manual features 22 challenging, standards-based, inquiry lab activities for AP, IB, and honors programs.

Energy Dynamics

Lab Summary

Students use EcoChamber containers and a carbon dioxide gas sensor to estimate energy flow and carbon cycling within a variety of detritus-based ecosystems.


Students set up a variety of simple detritus-based model systems to estimate energy flow and carbon cycling within an ecosystem. Students set up their ecosystem with a known detritivore, a known decomposer, or a combination of both detritivore and decomposer. The teacher provides students with data from two control systems to help interpret changes in the experimental systems.


Energy flux is estimated using gravimetric analysis and the carbon cycle is investigated using a carbon dioxide (CO2) gas sensor. By tracking the movement of energy within these systems, students gain an understanding of the laws of thermodynamics as they relate to energy transfers in ecosystems. Following the Initial Investigation, students design an experiment around an abiotic factor or a biotic component of the system to manipulate or they simply monitor decomposition for a longer time period.

Sensors / Equipment Used:

PASPORT Carbon Dioxide Gas Sensor


The PASPORT Carbon Dioxide Gas Sensor measures carbon dioxide concentration CO2 (parts per million) in gases such as air. Ideal for studies of photosynthesis, respiration, fermentation and more.

PASPORT Quad Temperature Sensor


Allows any combination of our stainless steel, fast response or skin/surface temperature probes for a wide variety of temperature measurement. For use with PASPORT Interfaces.

PASPORT Oxygen Gas Sensor


The Oxygen Gas Sensor accurately measures O2 concentration in the atmosphere or in enclosed spaces. Study animal, plant or cellular respiration, air quality, O2 production from chemical reactions and more.

Materials Used:


The Associated Bundle:

Advanced Biology Standard Sensor Bundle


Contains an EcoChamber, a Metabolism Chamber and all the probeware needed to perform the activities in the Advanced Biology through Inquiry lab manual.

Interface Required

This experiment may require software and an interface for data collection.