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Life Science

  • What Genomics Says about Being Human Part I Drastic reductions in the cost of determining the nucleotide sequences of chromosomes have led to an explosion in the field of genomics, enabling scientists to add remarkable depth to our understanding of what it means to be human. View »
  • From Jellyfish to the Bench: How Green Fluorescent Protein Is Used in Research Students may be familiar with green fluorescent protein (GFP) from classwork or seeing transgenic animals in their local pet store. However, they may not know that it’s also an important research tool. Use this overview to help them discover how scientists use GFP to study many of the major questions in biology. View »
  • Hydroponic Nutrient Solution After a structured investigation of a hydroponic technology, students design an experiment to test different nutrient solutions. View »
  • Bacterial Hydrolysis of Starch In this lab, students culture two bacteria on potato dextrose agar, which contains starch. When grown on potato dextrose agar, bacteria that can secrete amylase—an enzyme that hydrolyzes starch—create a zone around their colonies in which starch is absent. When the agar is flooded with iodine solution, most of the plate stains dark blue–black, but clear areas are left around colonies that secrete amylase. View »
  • Introduction to Prokaryotes: Bacteria What are bacteria? In this introductory lab students make smears of bacteria on microscope slides from pure cultures, perform a simple stain, and observe their stained slides under a microscope 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 »
  • Photosynthesis Modeling with Pop Beads While studying photosynthesis, students can have difficulty understanding how the carbon in CO2 becomes the carbon in glucose. Use this activity to clarify the process. View »
  • Bacteria: The Citrate Test In this lab students perform a test on two different bacteria to determine whether the organisms can use citric acid as their sole carbon source. The citrate test is often performed as part of the IMViC (Indole, Methyl Red, Voges-Proskauer, and Citrate) series of tests used to differentiate common species of enteric bacteria. View »
  • Introduction to Sterile Technique In this lab, students practice transfer of a bacterial culture using sterile technique. View »
  • Using Algae Beads as a Model for Photosynthesis Introduce students to photosynthesis with fresh water algae. By creating algae beads (made of algae and sodium alginate solution), they indirectly observe the change in concentration of oxygen in beads that are exposed to different amounts of light. 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 »
  • Observing Plant Cells In this lab students observe Elodea leaves under magnification. They will see cell walls and chloroplasts. From the movement of chloroplasts they will infer that cyclosis, or protoplasmic streaming, is occurring. They also will observe that most chloroplasts are pressed tightly against the cell wall and should infer from this that much of the cell is occupied by a vacuole. View »