This is the website for the Environmental Science Activities for the 21st Century (ESA21) Project. You will find activities here that seek to engage individuals about environmental issues through investigating their impact on the environment. The activities are textbook independent, which means that the background material needed to understand them is either provided in or as a link from the activity. The activities rely on a mixture of hands-on, field, and Internet based experiences to give you a deeper understanding of the issues. 

The Activities link will take you to a listing of all of the activities that we have created. There are also links that go to ancillary products, such as instructor materials or assessments.

  • Environmental science courses for non-scientists suffer from a lack of available laboratory exercises that fit the goals and needs of a general education audience.  Currently available exercises consist of seemingly unrelated collections of labs from introductory biology and chemistry courses. These exercises fail to connect with the course content and are irrelevant to students' everyday lives.  To address this shortcoming, we have developed technology-enhanced, textbook-independent, multi-week laboratory exercises on environmental topics.  The laboratory exercises are grouped into modules that examine one environmental topic for 3-5 consecutive weeks, providing in-depth examinations of each topic.  Each module synthesizes traditional wet lab exercises with computer simulations of environmental topics, online quizzing/communication, and computerized data laboratory instrumentation. 

    These exercises improve upon traditional laboratory exercises in that they focus on local environmental issues of concern to students and utilize data from local sites in the exercises.  This data is either collected by the students themselves (e.g., water quality studies), or gathered from internet-based databases (e.g., levels of air pollutants in metro Atlanta).  This avoids the inherent predictability of most traditional laboratory exercises, which simply seek to demonstrate basic scientific principles through time-tested (i.e., predictable) exercises.  This combination of original data and local issues make the laboratory experience complement the course content and greatly improves student interest in the laboratory component of the course.  Further, by emphasizing the "personalized" nature of these exercises (analysis of personal impacts, original data, voicing personal opinions on controversial issues), the laboratory experience is uniquely tailored to each individual student.

  • Due to the fact that these resources include materials of a sensitive nature (they would help students who wished to plagiarize or cheat), we cannot link them directly. If you are an instructor that wishes to see them, though, please send us an e-mail from a verifiable address, and we would be happy to send you the materials that we have available. Please use the contact information listed below.
  • To investigate the effectiveness of the materials developed for this project, we undertook a comprehensive assessment program involving students and outside evaluators. The first four modules (Basic Skills and Principles, Energy, Biogeochemical Cycling, Ozone) have now been used by several thousand students in our General Education science course at Kennesaw State University, and our evaluation efforts are ongoing. Please select from the links below. 

  • This project was made possible with the following contributions:

    Activity Authors:

    • Chris Fox - Atmosphere, Air Pollution, Acid Rain, Climate Change, Soil Composition, Age Structures, Home Chemicals, and Toxic Chemicals
    • Matt Laposata - Experimental Analysis, Statistics and Graphing, Measurement, Basic Skills Capstone A, Basic Skills Capstone B, Carbon Cycling, Personal Carbon Impacts, Carbon Cycle Capstone, Ground-level Ozone, Personal Ozone Impacts, Ozone Capstone, Ecological Footprint, Water Use, Drinking Water Treatment, Wastewater Treatment, Population Statistics, and Population Growth
    • John M. Pratte - Home Energy Audit, R-Factor of Various Materials, Home Analysis, Home Energy Capstone, Nuclear Decay, Nuclear Power Plants, Radiation Exposure, Nuclear Energy Capstone, Oil, Coal, Natural Gas, Fossil Fuel Capstone, Trees and Carbon, Carbon Cycle Capstone, Rock Identification, Soil Composition, Calories and Land, Stratospheric Ozone, Ozone Capstone, Hydroelectric Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Renewable Capstone, Ozone Depletion, Newton's Second Law of Motion, Efficiency, First Law of Thermodynamics, Human Energy Capstone, Earthquake Epicenter, Mineral Identification, Population Statistics, Age Structures, and Population Growth
    • Ken Rhinehart - Plate Speed, Plate Mechanics, Water Use, Drinking Water Treatment, and Wastewater Treatment, Population Statistics, Age Structures
    • Charlene Waggoner - Ecological Footprint

    Site Design and Artwork: Gerry Kleine

    Activity Reviews: Cathy Middlecamp, Trace Jordan, Adrienne Wootters, Ingrid Bartsch, and Lucy Eubanks

  • The Environmental Science Activities for the 21st Century (ESA21) Project is a consortium of colleges and universities whose purpose is to create environmental science activities that allow students to investigate their impact on the environment. By studying their impact, students are able to see that they have a place in the ecosystem and are better able to understand how to reduce the harmful effect that they might have on it. The current consortium is made of faculty from Kennesaw State University (project headquarters), Bowling Green State University, Community College of Baltimore County, and the University of Southern Mississippi. This project is being funded under the auspices of NSF CCLI DUE-0088723 and 0231171 grants. 

    The activities developed for the project are grouped into multi-week modules based around major topics in environmental science. The modules are designed to supplement environmental science courses with existing laboratory components or provide course activities for traditional and online courses that lack a laboratory component. The activities hybridize online and wet-lab exercises to take advantage of both formats, and utilize existing, high-quality materials from the Internet, many of which are mirrored on the project web site to minimize accessibility issues. The modules emphasize lifestyle examination, ethical considerations and critical analysis of individual contributions to large-scale regional and global impacts. This allows students to see their place in the environment and how lifestyle changes can facilitate greater environmental sustainability. Some of the specific topics covered emphasize atmospheric science, climatology, mathematics, hydrology, human geography, geophysics, geochemistry, geology, mineralogy, soil science, ecology, carbon cycle, Newton's Second Law, water use, plate tectonics, ozone, earthquakes, fossil fuels, solar energy, wind energy, air pollution, acid rain, oil, coal and natural gas. 

    Each activity in the collection is comprised of an introduction that places the issue under discussion in context, links to additional sources of information on the Internet, and an experiment that uses hands-on, field, and/or Internet resources to investigate some aspect of the issue. Some of these activities are designed to provide background information on the topic, while others have the students measure some aspect of their life to see what their impact is. Each module comes with a capstone activity that allows the students to investigate what changes they can make in their life to either reduce their impact on the environment or their environment's impact on them. 

    Due to the differing writing and teaching styles of the different authors on the project, there are some slight differences in each activity's materials. However, these differences are extremely minor and should not affect the quality of the educational value of each activity. All of the activities have been reviewed by multiple scientists and educators to ensure that the materials are correct and usable. If users do find errors in these activities, or if users have suggestions to improve the activities, please contact either Matt Laposata or John Pratte with your comments. 

    Metadata generated by the project has the following copyright: Copyright (c) 2006 Kennesaw State University 

    Metadata may used by DLESE (Digital Library for Earth System Education) at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). DLESE may modify, reformat, and redistribute metadata to function within DLESE systems and services. 

    The collection is expected to exist indefinitely as long as the materials are current and useful to the community. Materials and activities that become obsolete will be removed and cease to exist.

  • The materials found on this website were created and compiled by the Environmental Science Activity for the 21st Century (ESA21) project's authors for use by educational institutions and the general public. Copyrighted materials from sources other than the ESA21 authors are used with permission from the original creator. A good faith effort has been made to comply with U.S. copyright law. 

    While the ESA21 authors and Kennesaw State University retain copyright to their materials, permission is given to use them freely in electronic and/or print form at educational institutions for non-profit purposes, as long as source and author are indicated. Use of these materials or edited versions of these materials for profit without the written approval of the project authors and Kennesaw state University is strictly prohibited. 

Contacting the Development Team

Contact information for the project coordinators is listed below. Feel free to contact us with questions, comments, or feedback. Educators are encouraged to utilize these activities in their teaching, and may do so by linking directly to the exercises on this site. 

If you utilize these materials, please notify us so we can provide you with updates and additional information, and document the use of the activities.


Matthew Laposata, Ph.D.
Professor of Environmental Science
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology
Kennesaw State University
Mailbox 1202
1000 Chastain Rd.
Kennesaw, GA 30144
(470) 578-3453

John Pratte, Ph.D.
College of Arts, Education, & Science
The University of Louisiana-Monroe
700 University Ave.
Monroe, LA 71209
(318) 342-1238