Biodomes Engineering Design Project

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In this design-based activity, learners explore environments, ecosystems, energy flow and organism interactions by creating a model biodome. Learners become engineers who create model ecosystems. Learners design and create their own biodomes and watch what happens to the living and nonliving things they place in them.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
4 to 24 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Model


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Biodome Engineering Design Project Workbook
  • 2 plastic containers (1- and 2-liter bottles with lids work well, or other inexpensive clear plastic trays/bowls with covers/lids)
  • Seeds (provide several types for different climates)
  • Soil (3-4 cups or .7-.9 l)
  • Sand (3-4 cups or .7-.9 l)
  • Supply of miscellaneous materials, such as pebbles, rocks, wire, small paper cups, plastic wrap, string, foil, popsicle sticks, chopsticks, etc.
  • If insects or other animals are not available outside (due to the weather or other limitations), consider purchasing a small supply of worms or other organism from a pet store.
  • Masking tape
  • Duct tape
  • Glue (preferred: hot glue sticks with glue guns)
  • Scissors
  • Exacto knives (if teacher cuts the plastic bottles)
  • Butterfly nets and/or jars and paper cups (to catch and hold insects and worms)
  • Drill (to make a hole in plastic bottle lids)
  • Water


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Environmental Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
      • Animals
      • Classification
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Energy Flow and Chemical Cycles
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
      • Heat Transfer
    • Chemistry
      • Chemistry of Life
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Model Building
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Includes assesments for student learning:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Beggs, Katherine ; Valenti, Christopher ; Schaefer Zarske, Malinda ; Carlson, Denise

Source Collection

  • TeachEngineering


  • All rights reserved, Regents of the University of Colorado, 2004

Funding Sources:

  • Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE)
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • National Science Foundation GK-12, 0338326