Creating Scientific Claims
Now that students have learned a bit about where mercury comes from, why it is an environmental issue of concern in Maine, and how it moves through ecosystems, they can begin to think about what questions they might ask and then begin to answer with their field work.
The questions we are heading toward are those that fall under one overarching question: Which organisms have greater amounts of mercury in their tissues? There are many topically-relevant sub-questions that students might propose to investigate. For example:
- Do predators, such as dragonfly larvae, have more mercury than their prey?
- Do dragonfly larvae from different sites have different amounts of mercury? What features of the site might influence the mercury burden in dragonfly larvae?
- Which fish would be likely to have the greatest mercury: those that eat algae, those that eat zooplankton, those that eat insects, or those that eat other fish? Does fish size matter?
- Would a sample of hair from students who are vegetarians tend to have less mercury than a hair sample from non-vegetarian students?