High School (9-12)

High School grade levels 9 through 12.

Yeast Mutagenesis

Author(s): Kamena Kostova, Darienne Myers, Larry Cohbra

Yeast Mutagenesis

In this laboratory investigation, students learn the concept of mutagenesis and explore how different substances can act as mutagens. The experiment utilizes a strain of yeast that lacks several DNA repair mechanisms, allowing it to accumulate mutations after exposure to mutagens. Students expose this strain of yeast to everyday substances (soda, soap, Aspirin, glue, etc.) and record the effects. Using this data, students will infer the affect of these substances on living organisms. 

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Amylase Experiment 2.0

Author(s): Sam Pollock, Daniel Hensley, Deb Apple

Amylase Experiment 2.0

Students will use the amylase starch digestion experiment to see enzymes in action. After they've done a run-through of the basic protocol, they'll add a variable of their choosing in a student-designed experiment and share their results.

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The Microbial World Around (and In!) Us

Author(s): Kaitlyn Lucey, Leslie Tong, JoAnn Knecht

The Microbial World Around (and In!) Us

In the first lesson in this two-part series, students are introduced to the concept of microbes by collecting samples to grow on agar Petri dishes. They will isolate colonies and perform two biochemical tests that microbiologists regularly use to identify bacteria. 

Overall Lesson Plan Layout:

1. Students will complete the pre-lab worksheet to assess prior knowledge and to address misconceptions. 

2. The attached presentation will be used to accompany the lesson (See attachment). 

3. Microbial diversity is introduced by:

- Showing a video

- Doing an activity (as a class)

4. The students are divided into groups of three for the hands-on work. Within these groups students pass around the petri dish so that each student can analyze it closely, and then they alternate between transferring colonies onto fresh agar media. Those students who are not transferring colonies can either watch the student who is doing so or draw the streak technique in their notebooks as practice until their turn. (Details for this activity are described below)

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Neuronal Signaling and Pain

Author(s): Chuchu Zhang, Amanda Paulson, Tom Dallman

Neuronal Signaling and Pain

The lesson has two parts: part one introduces the nerve circuitry for somatosensation and demonstrates the nature of neuronal signaling - electricity; Part two explores the concept of an action potential.

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Problems in Meiosis Lead to Disease

Author(s): Tiffani Quan, Elizabeth Pierson, Sabine Jeske

Problems in Meiosis Lead to Disease

This lesson is a variation on the traditional pipe-cleaner simulation of mitosis/meiosis. Initially, students review the normal process of meiosis.  The students are then presented with monosomy and trisomy gametes and asked to work backwards through the stages of meiosis in order to determine where the error may have occurred.  Students are then introduced to the concept of nondisjunction.

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Food production, Population growth and GMOs

Author(s): George Cachianes, Raquel Gomes, and Kristin Patrick

Food production, Population growth and GMOs

This interactive lesson is part of a lesson series (3 total) that focuses on topic of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The first lesson focuses on agriculture, food production, natural resources and population growth. The second lesson focuses on GMOs and their possible uses in agriculture as a way to fight world hunger and diminishing resources (this could be a very controversial issue and a great way to get students engaged in their learning). For the final lesson students are asked to (a) research the pros and cons of the use of GMOs in agriculture (b) propose other possible sustainable solutions to the current food crisis (c) propose individual behavioral changes in our daily lives or community solutions to protect our natural resources and avoid a more catastrophic food crisis.

The goal of the first lesson is to get students engaged in current global issues while learning and brainstorming about possible solutions. In this lesson the students are asked to look at data sets from multiple sources and summarize the main points by presenting them to the rest of the class. Student presentations promote discussion between students and help to integrate previously learned concepts such as the food chain, energy pyramid, water cycle, water footprint, flowering plants and agriculture. Additionally, students are introduced to new concepts such as population growth and limited natural resources.

Throughout the presentations the teacher guides the students to draw conclusions and helps them make connections with current world issues. After going through the data, there is a brief presentation on the historical timeline of the development of agriculture. The presentation also introduces the industrial revolution and agriculture's green revolution and their effects on human population growth. Overall, this lesson plan is an introduction to the use of GMOs in agriculture as one of the possible solutions to the current food crisis.

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Mini Medical School - Hematology

Author(s): Rustom Falahati, Megan Robblee, Bonnie Daley

Mini Medical School - Hematology

This is a two-class lesson plan. During the first class students are entered into a "mini-medical school" where they will learn about the functions and components of blood and make a candy model to reflect their relative proportions.  At the end of the class, they graduate medical school as hematologists. The next day they will be presented with a mock patient with a blood disorder. In groups, they will attempt to diagnose the patient using blood smears, results of lab tests, and patient histories.

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Amylase - Exploring digestion and evolution through a molecular machine

Author(s): Becky Fulop, Juliet Girard, Thomas Noriega

Amylase - Exploring digestion and evolution through a molecular machine

The lesson is designed around two sets of experiments. The first set demonstrates that amylase is a digestive enzyme that degrades starch into sugar, can do so repeatedly and, like many enzymes, is sensitive to acid. The second set of experiments demonstrates the variability of amylase activity in different students' saliva. 

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Exploring chemical bonding

Author(s): SEP staff

Exploring chemical bonding

Students will engage in an exploration demonstrating the Octet rule and chemical bonding using paper models of elements forming covalent and ionic compounds.

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Antigen switching in malaria

Author(s): Mary Kate Alexander

Antigen switching in malaria

In this activity, students will model how the parasitic malaria protist Plasmodium falciparum evades the host immune response through a phenomenon called antigen switching.  Specifically, slips of paper representing malaria-infected red blood cells will be used to demonstrate how random changes in the expression of Plasmodium proteins that display on the surface of human red blood cells helps the parasite avoid destruction by the host immune system.  Students start with a single infected red blood cell with a specific surface marker protein, and from there will simulate the spread of infection through multiple generations of infection (each generation consisting of a parasite infecting a red blood cell, dividing and multiplying inside the red blood cell, then bursting to release new parasites that go on to infect new red blood cells).  Student will find that the parasite occasionally changes the type of surface marker protein expressed over several generations.  When the immune system begins destroying infected cells displaying the original surface protein, cells that have switched to expressing a different protein survive and continue to divide.

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Sheep Heart Dissection

Author(s): Chris Cain and Soroya Wood

Sheep Heart Dissection

Students observe and dissect a sheep heart. In doing so, they learn about how the heart works and what it really looks like.

While this lesson is adaptable for many grade levels, it is a great fit with California's FOSS 5th grade Living Systems kit and that kit's goal of learning the structures and functions of the circulatory system.

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Perception and the Brain

Author(s): Erin Currie, Eirene Markenscoff-Papadimitriou, SEP Staff

Perception and the Brain

In this lesson, students are introduced to how the brain interprets and uses sensory information from the visual system to guide how the body moves and performs various tasks. This lesson makes use of a specialized set of goggles with prism lenses that shift what the wearer sees. Using these prism goggles, students will see first hand how the brain adapts over time to changes in what we perceive. The lesson also makes a connection to the brain and brain function by giving students a chance to see and touch a preserved brain specimen.

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What factors affect the oxidation of apples?

Author(s): John Rivera, Lillian Seu, Juliet Rose Girard, Anthony Shiver

What factors affect the oxidation of apples?

Students observe the browning of apples after cut and being exposed to air and brainstorm ideas about why this might be happening.
Students think about ways to slow down or prevent the browning effect and in teams create and conduct a simple experiment to test their ideas.

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How does the pH environment affect bioavailability of Iron?

Author(s): John C. Rivera, Lillian Seu, Juliet Rose Girard, Anthony Shiver

How does the pH environment affect bioavailability of Iron?

Dietary minerals are available through ingestion of food and supplements.  In this lesson, students first examine the chemical reaction of two forms of iron, Fe0 and F+2 with various pH conditions of either the stomach or intestine to determine how it gets absorbed and eliminated in the body. Then students isolate iron from the foods we eat (such as cereal) using a magnet to attract elemental iron or Fe0.

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Mini Mystery Boxes

Author(s): SEP Coordinators

Mini Mystery Boxes

This lesson is designed to help students better understand the nature of science. It uses simple, readily available mini-mystery boxes to model how scientists study things they cannot see (see http://www.lab-aids.com/catalog.php?item=100). Scientists often study things that cannot be seen - either because they are incredibly small (inside of cells/atoms) or too far away (other galaxies). In such work, scientists must rely on indirect information. Mystery boxes – each with a small steel ball and a raised terrain inside – demonstrate this aspect of science to participants. The students will draw a model and discuss in groups what they think the box looks like inside.

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Love in the Time of Cholera - Osmosis in action

Author(s): Amy Trusso, Brad Stohr, Stephen Floor, Greg Friedland

Love in the Time of Cholera - Osmosis in action

Students will first learn about the cause of cholera, and propose treatment options to save a hypothetical patient. They will then learn about the osmotic basis of the disease by using a simple dialysis tube/sucrose model for cholera diarrhea. Finally, they will discuss how osmosis can be harnessed to effectively treat the disease and how this treatment has saved millions of lives.

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Mystery Box

Author(s): SEP Coordinators

Mystery Box

This lesson is designed to help students better understand the nature of science. It uses a Mystery Box (see attached photos) which has a funnel at the top and a beaker underneath. When water is poured into the top funnel, colored water flows out the bottom. A turn of the funnel and then pouring in more water results in either a different colored water or no water at all. The teacher demonstrates this Mystery Box to students and challenges them to propose models of the inside of the box. The students draw models of what they think the inside of the box looks like and share and discuss these models. Students can also construct their own mystery box using cardboard boxes and other common materials. For this option, you will need an additional class period.

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Detecting Photosynthesis- Analyzing Other Scientists' Data

Author(s): SEP Staff (Architecture of Life Course)

Detecting Photosynthesis- Analyzing Other Scientists' Data

Students will analyze the results of another scientist's experiment by examining leaves that have been exposed to different treatments, and draw conclusions about the process of photosynthesis.

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Testing for Lipids, Proteins and Carbohydrates

Author(s): SEP staff (Chemistry of Life lesson)

Testing for Lipids, Proteins and Carbohydrates

Students will test a variety of food samples for the presence of lipids, proteins, simple and complex carbohydrates.

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What is matter?

Author(s): SEP staff

What is matter?

This activity is based on a lesson from the Living by Chemistry curriculum developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science (see citation).

During this activity students explore in depth their own understanding of what constitutes "matter" and work together as a group to create a definition for matter.

Students work in pairs to debate how to sort "items" printed on cards into three categories: "matter", "non-matter" and "unsure" and then try to determine what properties all items in each category have in common. A whole class discussion about "tricky" items follows during which students ultimately agree on a definition of matter.

You can choose which cards you would like to use depending on your students' age, abilities, and experiences.  As an example, for elementary grades, you might choose not to use the entire set.

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Measuring Calories in Food

Author(s): Luna Abdallah, Elinor Sullivan, Bethany Currin, Mathew Campana

Measuring Calories in Food

The lesson introduces the concept of calories and provides examples of high calorie and low calorie foods. Students learn a number of ways to determine how many calories a food item has and discuss how calories influence body weight. Students learn how to measure calories by constructing and using a calorimeter.

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How does an infectious disease spread? HIV simulation

Author(s): SEP staff

How does an infectious disease spread? HIV simulation

Students will simulate the exchange of bodyfluids and then test whether they got infected with a disease. This activity will show how one person who is infected with a disease can infect other people, who in turn infect others. Students will be able to see how behavior can effect their risk of getting infected.

The lesson plan was inspired by many educators. Thanks to Lance Powell at June Jordan HS in San Francisco, Jennifer Doherty and Dr. Ingrid Waldron, University of Pennsylvania

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Extract your own DNA from cheek cells

Author(s): SEP staff

Extract your own DNA from cheek cells

Students will extract DNA from their own cheek cells.

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DNA structure and replication

Author(s): SEP staff

DNA structure and replication

Students assemble a DNA molecule, using magnetic pieces representing sugar, phosphate and the nitrogenous bases on magnetic whiteboards. Students then model the process of semi-conservative DNA replication applying the complementary base pairing rule.

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