Note that this page links from both the 7th grade and the Biology wikis. Some of the activities are appropriate for both levels, but make sure they fit your standards and are appropriate. For example 7th grade teachers don't really need to go into any depth about cell membranes.

Use sandwich bags to explore cell membranesj This a way cheaper and easier alternative to using dialysis tubing to demonstrate semi-permeable membranes. It gives great and very visual results.

Here are some very fun labs where kids make bubbles as models of cell membranes and then compare them to real cell membranes and their properties.

Here is a rubric for a cell project that has kids make a children's book about cells- Since kids are introduced to cells in 5th grade- you could send them to one of your feeder elementary schools- contact Pete if you want to find a 5th grade class to send them to.

Another cell project rubric
a comparison of different cell types.
Here is the egg osmosis lab from Palm Springs HS. NSTA has a free download chapter in a book that goes into great detail on the egg lab and suggests many extensions. NSTA egg lab

Elodea (anachris) from a pet store can be used to show plasmolosis in salt water under a microscope.

A simple way to show the effect of osmosis is to compare potato slices or iceberg lettuce that has been soaking in tap water and salt water . The samples in tap water will be crisp and the salt water samples will be limp. Students are likely to explain this as the salt "attacking" the vegetable. It is important to help them see that this is the result of water loss. An inflatable toy or ball well inflated vs. underinflated makes a good analogy.

Here is a bellringer on enzymes from Sarah R. to get that prior knowledge activated.

Here is a better structured version of the apple browning enzyme lab in the Biology book-

A couple more options for enzyme labs-
spit and crackers (amylase)- analyse with iodine for starch and benedict’s for sugar.

Use a dollar bill (or other similar sizes piece of paper) as a model of how an enzyme can build macromolecules from monomers- dollar bill trick

Dollar bill enzyme
A comparison of single and multicellular life

The common core lesson plan from the DAIT team 10/4/12 to compare text and video- note that this could be used for and compararing of two sources which is a CCSS standards (including comparison of experiment and text) the comparison scaffold mentioned in the lesson plan a tool for text with new vocabulary

The concept map for photosynthesis and respiration created by the DAIT team

For mitochondria/photosynthesis/ understanding energy and food-
Use bromothymol blue in water as a CO2/oxygen indicator- breath (through a straw) turns it green, elodea plants (anachris in the aquarium store) in sun will turn it blue again. (make sure to use fresh green elodea -not rotting-rot will produce CO2). This can be made more rigorous by measuring pH or using a dissolved O2 or CO2 probe and collecting data.

Elodea is also a great plant to use to observe chloroplasts under the microscope.

Also- Water plants (like elodea/anachris) upside down in a test tube in the sun will produce oxygen bubbles these can be counted to measure rate of O2 production.

Growing bean plants (from supermarket beans) in different solutions is a good way to get kids thinking about plants and what helps them grow. Its also good easy practice measuring and collecting data. Note that beans will grow faster (until their stored starch runs out) in the dark than in the light since they are trying to reach the light- they will be pale since they are not producing chlorophyll

There is an open ended AP lab with spinach in syringes to measure O2 production that is very doable for non AP students.

Burn food to show that food has energy- chips and cheetoes make a spectacular flame- this is a analog to respiration- O2 is needed to burn and energy is produced.

Use cars as an analogy for respiration, and factories as an analogy for photosynthesis.

The Photosynthesis Rap on Gaggle or teacher tube is great.

Kids sometimes don't understand the importance of sugar since they have been taught that it is "junk" a quick activity is to have them examine several substances and try to decide which is a form of sugar- sugar, wood, cornstarch, pasta, splenda, etc...

Virtal AP Bio and other Bio labs can be found at:

Hold up a seed and a log and ask the classic question- "Where does the wood come from?" Check out the photosynthesis video at a private universe

Use gumdrops or ball and stick models (in the 8th grade kits) or Froot loops to model processes of photosynthesis and respiration ( For example- with a glucose and 6 oxygen, how many CO2 and water can you make?). You can also make each student one atom (using name badges) and have the class bond and react in different combinations to go through respiration and photosynthesis.

Robert P. -has kids open and close clothespins until they get muscle fatigue to "feel" lactic acid fermentation

Cheesemaking as a way to demo fermentation

Some teachers do fermentations in balloons or in flasks with balloons stretched over them to measure the fermentation rate.

Use the diagram dialogue to help make sense of the many complex diagrams in this unit.

Make a comic strip to represent photosynthesis and respiration.

Have students observe their bodies after exercise and connect the changes to respiration- increased heart rate to move more glucose and O2 to cells and move CO2 and waste away, increased breathing for increased gas ex. Hot due to waste heat. If you have CO2 gas probes you can measure the change in the amount of CO2 exhaled before and after exercise.

In the first Star Wars movie, metachlorions are an obvious reference to mitochondria.

Coming soon!
Nina S.- lock and key simulation
Kim R.- single cell vs, multi-cell activity
Kim R. does chromotography with Coleus
Kim R.- coin activity