LIFE SCIENCE/BIOLOGY ACTIVITIES Times listed for each lab activity are approximate times. Times include set-up/take down of equipment and discussion of data collected. Lengthy labs can be spread over several days. Differential white cell count – Use of oil-immersion microscopes to determine the white cell ratio using prepared blood smears. Students learn to differentiate the five types of WBC’s. Time 50-60 minutes. There is no written lab for this activity. Blood cell analysis – Use of compound microscopes to observe RBC’s, WBC’s, and platelets, and to determine the relative ratio of each type of cell. This is a good intro lab to the study of blood composition. Time 50-60 minutes. There is no written lab for this activity Vitamin C analysis of food and drink – Use of burettes and titration to analyze the amount of vitamin C in a variety of fruits, vegetables and drinks. This lab emphasizes controlling variables, making accurate measurements, recording data correctly, and proper lab procedures as well as the analysis of vitamin C. This lab is great for upper elementary through high school chemistry. Time 60-70 minutes. Electrophoresis of dyes – Use of gel electrophoresis to separate colors in common food coloring. A good lab to illustrate separation techniques, to observe that colors are sometimes combinations of colors, or as a preliminary lab to DNA electrophoresis. Time 45-50 minutes. DNA fingerprinting (RFLP’s) – Use of gel electrophoresis to analyze DNA from a crime scene to identify the perpetrator of the crime. Students cut DNA using restriction enzymes, load the DNA onto gels, and run the gels with submarine gel electrophoresis. Time 70 - 90 minutes, depending on whether the instructor or the students prepare the agarose. Extraction of DNA from a banana – Use of simple techniques to extract and observe DNA from the cells of banana. Great lab to introduce students to DNA. Time 45-50 minutes. DNA exploratory activity – Use of DNA model kits to compare the DNA of humans to chimpanzees, bears, bacteria, etc. This lab is an inquiry lab that allows students to “discover” the composition and arrangement of DNA. Time 30-45 minutes. DNA “Whodunit” activity – Use of DNA model kits to simulate DNA fingerprinting (RFLP’s) and to discover who committed the crime. This is an excellent lab to precede the actual DNA fingerprinting lab. Time 40-50 minutes. Bacteriology – Students obtain bacteria samples from areas around school, grow them on agar plates, prepare bacterial smears on microscope slides, stain the smears, and observe the bacteria on oil-immersion microscopes. Bacteria need to grow for one or two days prior to staining and observation. Time 45-50 minutes. There is no written lab for this activity. Absorption of light by chlorophyll (Or, Why are plants green?)- Students use a spectrometer to measure the absorption of light by chlorophyll that is extracted from spinach. Time 60 minutes. What’s for lunch?- A microscopic study of insect mouth parts. Time 45 minutes. Bugs, bugs, and more bugs- A study of insects versus arachnids and a study of insect characteristics. Includes microscope slides and plastic embedded specimens. Time 45-60 minutes, depending on the number of specimens observed. Criminalistics (Forensic Science) - A Powerpoint program takes students through a mock crime scene, including diagrams of the crime scene, police reports, suspect interviews, etc. Evidence collected at the crime scene is then analyzed by students. Once students have analyzed all of the evidence, they file an arrest warrant against one or more of the suspects. Evidence analyses include hair analysis, fingerprint analysis, blood typing, DNA fingerprinting, drug testing using thin-layer chromatography, pill analysis using a PDR, and liquid analysis using a gas chromatograph. This is an excellent lab for a combined chemistry/biology/physics group of students. Time 3-4 hours. There is no written lab for this activity. Onion root mitosis - Students use either the 40x or 100x (oil immersion) lens of a microscope to observe mitotic figures on prepared slides of onion roots. Students can observe all stages of mitosis and they can do an analysis of times spent in each stage of mitosis. Time 45-60 minutes. Microscopic observation of living cells- Students prepare wet mounts of onion and human cheek cells, stain the cells, and observe the cells under microscopes. Time 60-70 minutes. Human physiology unit- (This lab must be set up in the classroom). Eight stations are set up where students use Vernier sensors to measure heart rate, blood pressure, EKG, lung volume, left/right handedness, skin temperature, and UV radiation. This lab can be set up in a classroom for several days. CSI- The black widow case- Students prepare serial dilutions of a drug and use spectrometers to measure the concentration of the drug to determine if a crime was committed. Time 60-70 minutes. Nuclear medicine- Students use Vernier radiation monitors to locate a brain tumor in a “patient”. Time 30-40 minutes. LAB ACTIVITIES USING VERNIER LAB PRO SENSORS (from the Vernier manual Biology with Computers) Experiment # and title: 1. Energy in food – Using the temperature probe and a simple calorimeter to measure energy content of different kinds of food. Should be done in a well-ventilated classroom. Time 50-60 minutes. 2. Limitations of cell size: Surface area to volume – Use of the conductivity probe to measure the rate at which ions diffuse out of “cells” (agar cubes) of different sizes. Illustrates the importance of cell surface area to the ability of the cell to exchange ions. Time 50-60 minutes. 3. Acids and bases – Use of the pH probe to determine the effect of the addition of acids and bases to common substances. Effect of buffers is included. Time 60-70 minutes. 4. Diffusion through membranes – Use of a conductivity probe and dialysis tubing to measure the rate at which various concentrations of salt and sugar solutions diffuse across the membrane. Time 60-70 minutes. 5. Conducting solutions – Use of a conductivity probe to measure the conductivity of ionic and covalent molecules to determine if ions or molecules contribute to electrical conductivity. Time 45-50 minutes. 6. A & B - Enzyme action: Testing catalase activity – Use of the oxygen gas sensor (A) or the gas pressure sensor (B) to measure oxygen evolution/gas evolution from the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide by the enzyme catalase. Students use common substances such as yeast, liver, etc. as a source of the enzyme and they study the effect of concentration, temperature, and pH on enzyme action. Time 60-70 minutes. 7. Photosynthesis – Students use a colorimeter to measure color changes due to photosynthesis. Time 60-70 minutes. 8. The Effects of Alcohol on Biological Membranes – Students use a colorimeter to measure color intensity of beet pigment that leaks from membranes when placed in different alcohols. Time 80-90 minutes. 10. Transpiration – Use of the gas pressure sensor to measure transpiration in plants under different conditions such as light, humidity, wind, and temperature. Schools must provide the plants. Time 60 minutes. 11. A, B, C, & D - Cell respiration – Use of either the oxygen sensor (A), carbon dioxide sensor (B), the gas pressure sensor (C), or the combined oxygen/carbon dioxide sensors (D) to measure the rate of respiration in germinating and non-germinating peas and to study the effects of temperature on the rate of respiration. Schools must provide pea seeds that have been soaked for 3 days. Time 60-70 minutes. 12. A & B - Respiration of sugars by yeast – Use of the carbon dioxide gas sensor or the gas pressure sensor to measure the rate of respiration in yeast cells using different food sources such as glucose, sucrose, lactose, etc. Time 60-70 minutes. 16. Effect of temperature on respiration/fermentation – Use of the carbon dioxide gas sensor (A) or the gas pressure sensor (B) to measure the rate of respiration/fermentation in yeast cells under different temperature conditions. (This lab could be used in conjunction with #12). Time 50-60 minutes. 18. Acid rain – Use of the pH probe to study the effect of dissolved carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid on the pH of lake and ocean water. Time 60-70 minutes. 19. Dissolved oxygen in water – Use of the dissolved oxygen probe to measure the DO content of natural bodies of water and to study the effect of temperature on DO. Time 50-60 minutes. 20. Watershed testing – (Similar to the Water Quality Index lab listed in the previous section). Time 90 minutes. 22. Osmosis – Use of the gas pressure sensor to measure the rate of osmosis in a potato using various concentrations of sugar. Time 60-70 minutes. 23. A & B - Effect of temperature on cold-blooded organisms – Use of the oxygen gas sensor (A) or the carbon dioxide gas sensor (B) to measure the rate of respiration in cold-blooded organisms such as crickets, worms, or other such critters under different temperature conditions. Time 50-60 minutes. 24. A & B – Lactose Action – Students use a CO2 sensor (A) or a gas pressure sensor (B) to measure the rate of breakdown of lactose by the enzyme lactase. Students also test the ability of yeast to metabolize different sugars. Time 60-70 minutes. 26. Control of human respiration – Use of the respiration monitor belt to measure the effect of holding the breath and re-breathing on the rate of respiration. (Currently only available on MSL #1 – Jerry) Time 45-50 minutes. 27. A - Heart rate and physical fitness – Use of the exercise heart rate monitor to determine a physical fitness level. Students measure their heart rate while standing, reclining, reclining to standing, and after the step test. Numbers are plugged into a physical fitness scale. Time 50-60 minutes. This lab is best done in a classroom. 28. Monitoring EKG – Use of the EKG monitor to measure the electrical activity of the student’s heart. Students can measure heart rate, P-R intervals, work time, and rest time of the heart. Time 45-50 minutes. 29. Ventilation and heart rate – Use of the exercise heart rate monitor to measure the heart rate under hyperventilation and hypoventilation conditions. Time 45-50 minutes. 30. Oxygen gas and human respiration – Use of the oxygen gas sensor to measure the amount of oxygen in exhaled air and to measure the effect of hyperventilation and holding the breath on oxygen levels. Time 50-60 minutes. 31. A & B - Photosynthesis and respiration – Use of the oxygen gas sensor (A) or the carbon dioxide gas sensors (B) to measure the rate of photosynthesis in plant leaves in light and dark conditions. Time 60-70 minutes.