New Teachers

"Hands-on" Biology

Hello!  my name is Sarah and I am a pre-service biology student.  One of my foals in teaching is to make learning biology/life science interesting and fun while still meeting the standards of learning.  I think it will help retention of the earned material more likely.  I am looking ot teach at a high needs school in Richmond, VA so supplies and equipment for labs is limited if at all.  What are some unique hands-on learning tools or experiences you have used other than labs to get students excited about Science?  Any and all insite is grealty appreciated.

Sarah Baker
Sarah Baker
435 Activity Points

Hello Sarah,

My favourite (cheap and easy) hands-on biology activities are:

DNA Extraction:

Isolate DNA from crushed strawberries or other fruit. Students are amazed at how much DNA can be extracted.  I attached instructions.  You need some rubbing alcohol, strawberries (frozen kind are ok if not better), contact lens solution, liquid dish soap and some test tubes.

Pop bottle ecosystems:

Students are motivated to observe the terraria they created themselves. Peruse my collection in the Learning Center: 

Living organisms:

Start seeds to explore life-cycles, requirements for growth, tropisms, and more.  Insects, worms, pond aquariums are fun.  (Refer to a previous post I made:

Dissections: (Check with your department head or administration and be aware of cultural issues.)  Always fascinating and useful for discussing ethical, scientific use of animals. Molluscs, fish, and crabs can be purchased from grocery stores. Fetal pigs are more expensive but always a hit.  Include plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Ecological Studies:  Students can conduct field surveys of the school yard with small quadrats made from soda-straws.  Run transects, identify species, estimate biomass and write reports on what was discovered.

Hope this helps!


Strawberry_DNA.doc (0.08 Mb)

Gabe Kraljevic
Gabe Kraljevic
3929 Activity Points

These are excellent ways to get students involved and interested  in learing. For me, I always learned better through activities and experiements like these because I am a hands on learner. So, I have  to be able to see it for me to understnad it. 

Ashley Coelman
Ashley Coelman
410 Activity Points

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