Maybe my memory is failing me but most labs didn't excite me. The exception was Marine Animal Ecology lab. There were only a handful of us and they combined this course with a graduate level course. The highlight of this course for me was working with the graduate students on their projects. In fact, it was this interaction that led me to going to graduate school.
I'm hoping that a more involved lab will get students more excited (is that the right word?) about ecology and have greater satisfaction than a bunch of smaller exercises. We'll see.
Here the draft statement on the projects from my syllabus. I think these are reasonable and students should get interesting results. Maybe the phrase I'm looking for is "intellectual satisfaction." That won't be on any university brochures but that's exactly what I hope students experience.
- Food web at Nescopeck State Park
- Students will observe and capture insects on plants that are either consuming or pollinating them. Insects and plants will be identified to species. At least 100 interactions are to be documented.
- Insectivory and Frugivory and Urbanization
- Students will use clay caterpillars and clay berries to investigate how ecosystem services change across urban-rural gradients. Caterpillars will be set up at nine sites (3 urban, 3 suburban, 3 rural). Fruit clusters will be located at the same sites.
- Decomposition and urbanization
- Students will use tea bags and logs to determine decomposition rates along urban rural gradients. Clusters of 5 bags and 5 logs at 15 sites will be used.
- Deer density and urbanization
- Students will use game cameras to quantify deer densities across an urban-rural gradient. Fifteen cameras will be used for three weeks and checked weekly.