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Life Science

  • Make a Hay Infusion Hay infusions are widely used as a source of microorganisms for studying decomposition, fermentation, and disease. And preparing one is easy--simply soak fresh or dried plant material in water. View »
  • Bacterial Hydrolysis of Casein In this lab, students culture two bacteria on skim milk agar. The protein casein gives milk its white color. Some bacteria secrete protease enzymes that can hydrolyze casein. When these bacteria are grown on skim milk agar a clear area develops around the colonies, indicating that casein has been hydrolyzed into its component amino acids. View »
  • Bacterial Growth on MacConkey Agar In this lab students culture three bacteria on nutrient agar and MacConkey agar and record the results. View »
  • Bacterial Hydrolysis of Lipids In this lab, students culture two species of bacteria on agar medium that contains an emulsion of plant oils and the dye, sprit blue, which forms a complex with the triglycerides of the oils and gives an opaque blue color to the agar. Colonies of bacteria that can secrete lipase, an enzyme that hydrolyzes triglycerides, develop a light area or “halo” in the surrounding medium, due to the diffusion of lipase into the medium and the resultant breakdown of the oil/spirit blue complex. View »
  • Biodiversity of Soil Animals In this lab, students use a Berlese funnel to take samples of soil-dwelling animals, and then compare the numbers and kinds of organisms collected from different habitats. View »
  • Bacteria: The Indole Test In this lab students perform a differential test to distinguish bacteria based on the production of indole. Bacteria are grown on media containing tryptophan and then treated with Kovac’s reagent. If they possess the enzyme tryptophanase, the bacteria can metabolize tryptophan into indole, pyruvic acid, and ammonia. View »
  • Copying Nature’s Success: Teaching Students About Biomimetics Ready to create a model home that draws on biomimetics? In this activity, students research, design, and build structures that incorporate ideas inspired by the natural world. View »
  • Snakeheads Invade the United States Teach your students about the challenges nonnative species pose by focusing on a current example, the northern snakehead fish. Native to China, Russia, and Korea, this fish has established breeding populations in several states. Find out how this might have happened and what scientists are doing about it. View »
  • Carolina's Recommended Reading for AP® Biology Teaching AP® Biology this year? Go beyond the textbook and take students on an exploration of key concepts with these teacher-tested and recommended books. View »
  • Tied Up in Protein Synthesis (or Lost in Translation): A Kinesthetic and Inquiry-Based Approach to Teaching the Central Dogma of Biology In this exercise, students tie Windsor knots to create a translation product from mRNA instructions—a protein “necktie.” Your classroom is the nucleus, and the hallway is cytoplasm. View »
  • Isolating Bacteria from a Mixture How does a microbiologist isolate bacteria from a sample? In this lab students practice streaking a plate to isolate a single species of bacterium from a known mixture. View »
  • Introduction to Prokaryotes: Cyanobacteria In this lab students observe two examples of cyanobacteria and make a simple comparison to a eukaryotic green alga. View »