Life Science

Biology Labs

Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:06 PM

I am trying to compile a list of labs to use in the HS Biology classroom. Does anyone have any that they would like to share? Please list the topic they are correlated with.


Randee Holz
Randee Holz
2095 Activity Points

Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:02 PM

Hi Randee,
I commend you on your ambitious plan. I saw that you already have a "LABS" collection in the NSTA Learning Center (NLC). There are a great many labs already organized by topic and easy to access in the NLC. Most of these are written in the 5 E lesson plan format and written up as articles in The Science Teacher or Science Scope. Perhaps you could give us some ideas about what kinds of labs you are looking for. How fun it would be to have some collections included in the NLC that had some of our personal favorites included.

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
79588 Activity Points

Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:44 PM

Thank you Carolyn! I will be sure to check that out. I am looking for labs which would correlate with the 5 themes of teaching biology. In particular I am looking for labs which are inquiry or hands on based that would reinforce various topics in life science.

Randee Holz
Randee Holz
2095 Activity Points

Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:56 PM

That is an excellent question! I have been looking for more lab ideas too! If I find some neat ideas on my quest for labs, I'll be sure to share them with you. And I'll also check back in with this post... I really appreciate you posting this question. :)

Karen Luxford
Karen Luxford
655 Activity Points

Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:27 PM

Thanks again Carolyn! I have created several collections that deal with the 5 themes of biology. In each collection are articles that deal with lesson plans/inquiry activities for each theme. If anyone has anything else to add please let me know. Thanks again!

Randee Holz
Randee Holz
2095 Activity Points

Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:45 PM

I usually don't start doing labs until we start our ecology unit which is chapter 3 in our textbook. We do a posterboard and present it to the class on the six different biomes of the world. The students partner up and research a given list of parameters they need to post on their posterboard. The students really like making their boards pretty with pictures and colors and I like listening to their presentations. Most students don't like getting up in front of the class but I think having them do this helps them get over it.

The second lab we do is the Jello cell. We have lemon jello to represent the cytoplasm ( I make this ahead of time) and they put different candies in the jello to represent the different organelles. They need to state the functions of the organelles before they can eat their Jello cell. They love this lab and it doesn't take very long.

The next big hands-on activity we do is with DNA. The students get to make a DNA strand using marshmellows and red whips to portray the double helix. We first make a strand using beads and pipe cleaners so they get an idea of what it's supposed to look like then they use the marshmellows and candy. They like this activity because they can eat it afterwards.

The last big lab we do in the 4th quarter is squid and fish dissection. Being from Hawaii we always have frozen squid readily available so we use that, and I also go out and catch various reef fish for our dissection. I have the students do a gyotaku (fish print) of their fishes before we dissect them so they have a print to take home to their families. They love this lab, even though it makes the classroom stinky!

I would be happy to send you any worksheets if you want to see what my labs are like. They are not elaborate and are for my 10th graders. Let me know!

Tina Alcain
Tina Alcain
3305 Activity Points

Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:44 PM

Sometimes using biology labs from middle school are a good way to start your high school biology labs. I found a good site you might find helpful.
Hope they help.

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101470 Activity Points

Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:19 PM

Hi Adah,

I have been looking at the links that you posted. I was wondering if you could have a look at the second one. It is not working...maybe a typo?
I really thought the first site to which you referred had a multitude of labs that would actively involve students. They were also labs that did not require a lot of special equipment.

The third link was a jewel. It had labs and since it was this educator's classroom website, you also could get a glimpse into how this educator's courses were taught. I really enjoyed looking at the biology part of the site. The anatomy portion of the site was amazingly thoughtful and informative. It gave me a lot of ideas that I would like to incorporate into my anatomy course.

Ruth Hutson
Ruth Hutson
58215 Activity Points

Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:41 PM


Understanding how enzymes work can be particularly difficult for high school students. I have found several labs in the Learning Center to be helpful. I generally just use one of these labs and which one I use changes from year to year depending on my classes' ability level.

Enzymes Collection
(9 items)
Digesting Complex Carbohydrates: Using yeast as a model system for human digestion
     -Journal Article
Supermarket Proteases
     -Journal Article
Food Enzymes
     -Journal Article

Ruth Hutson
Ruth Hutson
58215 Activity Points

Tue Aug 28, 2012 2:03 AM

Hi Randee!

The first lab I do with my 10th graders after talking about the Scientific Method is a Control Experiment using Lima Beans and dish soap.

Problem: How does soap affect the germination of lima bean seeds?

Hypothesis: Students come up with this before they pick up their lab supplies

Materials: Petri dishes (2 sets), paper towels, lima bean seeds (5-8 per dish), soap solution (the students mix this based on their hypothesis), 10 mL graduated cylinder, water, glass stirring rod, ruler, and dish soap.

1) Cut 4 circles in the paper towel (trace petri dish) so that it will jus fit the Petri dish.
2) Set-up soal solutions (using graduated cyclider). make sure to mix well.
3) Place 1 paper towel circle on bottom of petri dish, apply soap solution to paper towel (this is where you have to remind students to be very consistent with the application of soap solution to both petri dishes).
4) Place lima bean seeds on paper towel.
5) Cover lima bean seeds with another paper towel and add more soap solution to the paper towel.
6) Repeat for the second percentage using the second petri dish.
7) Make daily observations and measure growth to compare. (I usually have students make their second set of observations the next class period and have students reapply soap solution). NOTE: Petri Dishes are placed in a dark cabinet. I also remind students to be very consistent with their measuring (ex: tip of root to tip of bean, etc).

Data: Observations. Create a data table with date, Dish 1, Dish 2, and Control (teacher creates the control).

A week after the set-up, have studnets make observations and record the following in another data table: Dish 1, Dish 2, control, with all the lima bean numbered (1, 2, 3, etc) to record the growth of each seed. Have them total the growth for all seeds in each dish, then take the average. Students will then create a bar graph, this reinforces what variable goes on the x and y axis, including a title for graph, increments on graph, etc.

Students will then type a lab report including the problem, hypothesis, 2 data tables, bar graph, and write a conclusion discussing hypothesis, data, purpose of the control, and results of the three petri dishes. I have them include materials, purpose, and analysis in future lab reports, just creating "baby steps" with writing their lab reports.

I like to start off with this lab first, as it helps students understand the purpose for the control. It also helps students learn about the independent and dependent variables. Writing a hypothesis using the If, then, because testable statement.

Since this is their first lab of the year, I usually get so many lab report errors, from the font size (very tiny or very large) and font type (difficult to read), to forgetting to include their hypothesis and not analyzing their data and hypothesis in their conclusion. This is a great "learning experience" for them as they learn from their mistakes with this first lab report and learn what they need to include when submitting future lab report, as the year goes by, the lab reports improve.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions. Aloha!

Robin Fujioka
1390 Activity Points

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