Ready-to-Go Biology Experiments for High School Classes

Now that classes are going back to an in-person format, it’s time to start integrating hands-on learning for your high school biology classes. Modern Biology makes labs easy by providing everything you need to conduct real experiments—not just demonstrations—that reinforce student mastery of the basic principles of biology while they get used to thinking scientifically.

Modern Biology makes the concepts you teach in class real for your students. With Modern Biology experiments, lab work doesn’t have to be intimidating for students or their time-pressed teachers.

Consider an activity all (well, just about all) of your students will have done before, growing plants from seeds. When they were younger, your students planted seeds and watched them grow.

But your students didn’t formulate testable hypotheses about the effects of temperature on the germination and growth of seedlings. And they probably haven’t had a chance to expand on the idea that plants produce oxygen and animals produce carbon dioxide.

In Modem Biology Experiment B4-1:

Effects of Temperature on Cell Respiration, your class measures oxygen consumption and hydrogen liberation by germinating seedlings. They will measure these liberated gases with respirometers at varying temperature levels. They will use dyes to create an analog visual measurement of respiration in plants for graphic analysis to confirm or fail to confirm their hypotheses about how plants respire.

This popular experiment keeps your students in their comfort zone. After all, everybody can grow a seedling in a cup of soil, right? But it gives them opportunities to develop scientific thinking and to get into the habit of taking notes of their observations, then comparing their data to their suppositions about an important biological process.

At some point in every high school biology class, you will be teaching about the properties of DNA.

Modern Biology B1-1:

Properties of DNA gives your students a chance for a hands-on experience of DNA. Students add alcohol to a DNA solution to precipitate long strands of DNA they can pull out with glass rods. This activity may seem a little simple for high school students, but for many, it will be the first opportunity to see that DNA isn’t just a concept in a science book.

Then you might want to consider upping the level of analysis. Your students can compare the length of DNA in a sample against six standards of known length in Modern Biology EXP 101: Length of DNA. For students who haven’t been inside a science lab for a year or more, this experiment is a steppingstone to our more advanced experiments for high school biology students such as EXP 106: Protein Fingerprinting, EXP 201: Determining the Molecular Weight of a Protein, and EXP 202: Identifying Sex-Specific Proteins.

Need to reinforce concepts of the structure of DNA?

Consider Modern Biology’s IND-27: Composition of the Nucleosome. In your class, you will be teaching the “beads on a string” model of the DNA molecule wrapped around histone proteins. In this experiment, your students will separate the beads from the string, isolating nucleosomal DNA with a simple procedure that employs a micrococcal nuclease. They will test their hypotheses about how nucleosomes organize DNA by determining their molecular weights by comparing their migration on an SDS-polyacrylamide gel to the migration of standard proteins of known size.

And along the way, they will gain skills in handling reagents, using pipettes, managing time in the lab, and keeping notes, all habits they can carry with them for the rest of their careers in biology.

In second-year high school biology classes, you can introduce your students to concepts they will use in nursing, allied health science careers, and medicine. You can introduce them to qualitative and quantitative analyses of proteins with the Western blot technique and ELISA. You can use these experiments to illustrate the comparative usefulness of these two vital techniques and to reinforce your lectures on how they are used in modern medicine to identify proteins, hormones, and infectious agents.

EXP 702:

Analysis of a Cell-Surface Receptor teaches students that the concepts they are learning apply directly to them. In this experiment, students examine multiple sites for the binding of concanavalin A through the hemagglutination reaction in their cells/

 And if you are exceptionally ambitious, you show the relationship of individual genetics to important social issues.

Read Also: Which part(s) of the brain, when impaired by alcohol, play an important role in memory:

In EXP-102:

Genetics and Sickle Cell Anemia, your students will study their DNA for hemoglobin variants. They will relate their findings to the presence or absence of sickle cell disease and sickle cell anemia. You can then guide the class as they relate their findings to the larger social issues of providing healthcare for Americans with chronic diseases. 

There has never been a more exciting time to be a high school biology teacher. And there’s never been a more challenging time to be a high school biology teacher. For forty years since we were founded by Dr. John Anderson, we have followed some important basic principles.

  • Every experiment kit made by Modern Biology matches a clear and concise lesson, with notes to help teachers prepare for it.
  • Every experiment kit made by Modern Biology supports scientific thinking. Students test their hypotheses. They don’t just watch demonstrations.
  • Every Modern Biology helps students develop the manual dexterity and note-taking skills that they will carry to future study and their careers. Modern Biology is developed by working scientists for future working scientists.
  • Every Modern Biology kit includes all the reagents and test materials teachers need for their laboratory exercise. There are no ordering separate reagents, fussing about missing shipments, or checking out lab materials from the supply room. Modern Biology supplies the safe, non-toxic, reliable reagents and measurement materials you need for every laboratory exercise. And because every Modern Biology experiment is available at a fixed cost, it’s easier to budget your supply cost for each class for each school term.

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