This is a fun lab that students enjoy and it teaches important concepts about enzymes.
Make your biology class more appealing and exciting by incorporating a variety of fun and interesting labs into your weekly lesson plans. This inquiry-based lab allows students to discover basic information about the functioning of enzymes within cells. Enzymes are biological catalysts that speed up the chemical reactions within cells. Without the aid of enzymes, the chemical reactions of the body would proceed so slow that the reaction would be of no use to the cell.
Purpose: In this lab, the student will observe the effect of the enzyme amylase on its substrate, starch. The student will perform various experiments with the enzyme amylase and will compile a list of facts concerning enzymes.
Students are given the task of trying to determine what happens to starch in the presence of the enzyme amylase. There are essentially four mini-experiments in the lab that will lead the student to the appropriate conclusion.
- The student mixes together a solution of of amylase and starch and determines the length of time it will take until the starch has been completely broken down into end products. This is done by removing a drop of the solution each minute and testing it for the presence of starch.
- Now the student must determine the end products of the reaction. Benedict's solution is used in this second portion of the lab to determine that the end product is a simple sugar.
- In the third portion of the experiment, students use glucose test strips to determine that glucose is NOT one of the end products.
- Finally, the student will test the solution for the presence of proteins to determine that the enzyme is still present when the reaction is complete.
This lab is designed for a typical high school biology class for students in grades 9 – 12. It is appropriate for both standard and honors classes as well as for first or second year biology students. I have used this lab in both my freshman biology I class as well as my AP biology class.