Practicing Science: Where’s the Starch?

This is another previously unpublished lab. I thought of this lab too late for it to go into RSO Biology 2. The content reviewer for Biology 2 is a high school biology teacher who also helps write test questions for the AP Biology exam. She told my publisher that I should write a high school AP Biology course for homeschoolers. After looking into it, I decided not to write one. My reason being, I think homeschool parents are better off having their child take a community college class versus an AP level class. The academic levels seem to be of similar difficulty, and the benefits of the community college class outweigh those of the AP class. If you pass the community college class you definitely get college credit. If you pass the AP class you still need to take the AP exam to get college credit.

One of the things I noticed when I looked at how the AP exam is structured was that there is a focus on practices. The use of practice here means a focus on how scientists practice science. With a science practice, students are given a problem and asked to solve it. Students are expected to solve it using what they have learned. This gave me the idea for the following experiment. Students have already learned everything they need in order to design this experiment, but nobody’s telling them how to conduct it. In addition to solving the problem, students are asked to design an experiment and to write the materials list and procedure portion for the experiment. It is really a good exercise for understanding the process scientists use when practicing science. That being, starting with the question and working with it until they have produced a written piece so that others could use the same procedure to get the same results.

If you do use it, I would love to hear your feedback about it. Did you have fun practicing science?

P.S. I am not going to give any advice about how to do it. Email me if you need help, I will post to my blog any write-ups sent to me. The lab activity fits best while students are doing chapters 12 and 13, but this lab activity could be done any time. You do not even need to be using RSO biology 2 to do it.

An Experiment within an Experiment, Lab Activity

As I was dissecting the plant and flower for the chapter 12 and 13 labs, I wondered where the plant and flower I was dissecting stored its starch. I started to write the procedure into the experiments to tell you how to answer that question. Then I realized how much fun you would have designing an experiment to answer that question.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it…

This is a two week process. You will design your own procedure for this experiment and add it as a part of the two dissections you are performing. The dissections are performed, one each week, for a total of two weeks. Early in the week, before you begin the dissection lab for chapter 12, you will design this lab.

  1. Experiments start with a question. The question for this experiment is: Where does the plant and flower you are dissecting store starch?
  2. You might, or might not if you have been using Biology 2 and paying attention, need to do a little research to find out what starch is and why plants store it. However, research alone is not enough. You should not look for the answer to this question on-line. You have enough knowledge to develop an experiment without someone else doing it for you. For users of Biology 2: You just need to apply what you have learned so far in this course.
  3. You need to think of a procedure to use for this experiment. The procedure for an experiment is the set of steps you will perform to try and answer your question. Write down the procedure. The procedure is figured out first, and then you will write the materials list based on the procedure.
  4. You need to make the list of materials you will use. Write down your materials list.
  5. Perform the experiment to see if your method works. If it doesn’t, don’t give up. Go back to the drawing board, rethink it, and come up with a different or refined method.

P.S.S. Don’t forget your microscope when looking for signs of where starch might be stored.