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BioChem Demos


Acid (eggs)egg white with 6M HCl (protein denature)
Acids (HCl/iron).1 M HCl with powdered iron (pH of stomach)
Air (density)heat a flask of water with a balloon attached to the top; allow flask to cool and then place in cold water
Air (mass)deflate a basketball and mass; reinflate and then remass
Air (pressure)burn a piece of paper in a wine carafe; quickly place a hard-boiled egg without the shell into the neck of the bottle; the egg will be sucked into the bottle
Carbohydrate (combustion)put combo of sugar and potassium chlorate (1 teaspoon to 3 teaspoons) into metal coffee can; go outside!; put in a dropper of concentrated sulfuric acid (CAUTION!); tremendous release of energy (WEAR EYE PROTECTION!)
Carbohydrate (glucose)have students chew a matzo cracker for about 60 sec. and note taste change form starch to sugar. Have students then taste actual glucose.
Carbohydrate (heat energy)cookie with teaspoon of sodium peroxide (must be fresh); flame in hood
Carbohydrate (oxidation)burn corn starch in spoon (carbon)
Carbohydrate (oxidation)corn starch (teaspoon) and O2 gas in balloon; string to meter stick over flame
Carbohydrate (oxidation)corn starch in turkey baster; squeeze over flame
Carbohydrates (identification)in a beaker, place 50 ml of water. in 20cm of 5/8 inch dialysis tubing, add soluble starch solution and 20 drops of 80% glucose solution. Tie off dialysis tubing and place in beaker. Test after 10-15 minutes for glucose (Tes-tape) and starch (iodine).
Carbon dioxide (solubility)soft drink into a syringe halfway; thumb over opening; pull plunger; releases CO2; or seltzer water release
Cells (microscope)videodisc stills of TEM and SEM images; have students guess the cell, structure, or organism
Cholesteroltube with 1/3 H2O, drop food coloring, 1/3 veg. oil; shake; add few drops of detergent-emulsification; repeat with cholesterol instead of detergent; similar reaction
Density (egg)egg sinks in H2O, not salt water
Density (soap)ivory soap (.9 g/cc) floats in H2O (1.0 g/cc) but not in ethanol (.8 g/cc)
Density (soda)regular soda vs. diet soda in large graduated cylinder (or bell jar) of H2O (diet floats, not regular); watch for bubbles under cans
Density (water)ice cube in water (floats) not in ethanol
Diffusion (conc. gradient)lance your finger and place a drop of blood on a microscope slide in 10% salt water; put on a videomicroscope
Diffusion (conc. gradient)open a bottle of household ammonia (or oil of peppermint, etc.) and ask students to raise their hand when they can smell it and then discuss diffusion, concentration gradients, osmosis, etc.
Diffusion (conc. gradient)put a raisin in water and wait 10 minutes for swelling
Diffusion (conc. gradient)put any of the following in water: sugar cube, food coloring, potassium permanganate
Diffusion (liquid)2-2L bottles (1 with hot water, 1 with cold) add 2 drops of food coloring
Diffusion (membrane)put a tablespoon of vanilla flavoring inside a balloon. Have students smell the balloon.
Ecology (Earth resources)cut an apple: into quarters (3 represent our oceans); slice the last quarter in half (area inhospitable to people: polar, swamp, mountains); 1/8 fraction left where people can live; cut into 4 sections (3 of the four sections represent areas too rocky, wet, cold, hot, etc., to grow food); carefully peel the 1/32 piece of 'Earth' (this represents the surface of Earth upon which humankind depends for food)
Egg (membrane)soak egg in vinegar for a few days (shell dissolves)
Enzymes (amylase)corn starch in water, add iodine (polysaccharide test); cube of potato (size of quarter) chew for 60 sec. and put into beaker; iodine test over time (gradual decrease in blue/black color)
Enzymes (blood)add a few drops of blood to 1/2 tube of 3% H2O2
Enzymes (blood)blood on tissue, add 3% H2O2t on petri dish on overhead projector; evolution of O2 gas
Enzymes (Jello)prepare jello in class; pour into cups; add nothing to (1); fresh pineapple to (2); canned pineapple (denatured enzyme-bromelain) to (3); Adolph's meat tenderizer (papain from papaya) to (4); McCormick's meat tenderizer (bromelain from pineapple) to (5); put in refrigerator; check gooieness next day
Enzymes (membrane)animal intestines from butcher (or casing from Italian sausage); add pineapple juice (bromelain enzyme)
Fermentation (apples)1 part applesauce with 4 parts H2O and shake; add active yeast; stopper tube and run tubing into beaker of water (12 hours release gas)
Fermentation (sugars)2-1L bottles; add 1/3 cup table sugar to one bottle and fill with H2O to 2 inches of top, add 1/2 package of active yeast; stopper top and run rubber tubing to inverted graduated cylinder filled with H2O; with other bottle, repeat but use corn starch instead of sugar (may take 12 hours)
Fructose (glucose)have students sample fructose packet versus sucrose packet
Genetics (genetic engineering)Bring in a few examples of seedless fruit (grapes, oranges, watermelon, lemons, etc.) and develop a discussion on genetic improvements and selective breeding.
Genetics (inheritance)Have students bring in a picture of one of their parents when they were a teen. Look for inheritance of traits and 'new' traits.
Genetics (probability)Get a large coin (silver dollar) and use it to show how an increased sample size leads one closer to an expected result.
Genetics (probability)have students (or yourself) bring in a hat, a scarf, a pair of gloves (you need at least 5). Have one student at a time come up to the pile and put on one of each item (do at least 5X). Then have students write down all of the possible combinations (not possible, of course, there are 125 possibilities!) Relate this to the combinations created during meiosis
Icebreakercut out names of endangered species and tape one to the back of each student; tell students they have to figure out what 'organism' they are by asking only yes or no questions to classmates (only one question per student); they go over why each organism is endangered
Icebreakerhave students pair off and interview each other, attempting to find unique characteristics; have students give short 'presentation' to class
Icebreakerhave students say a statement about themselves that contains a truth and a lie; the class should try to figure out which part of the statement is true
Icebreakerprepare a handout that has a series of seven faces from a wide grin to a straight face to a wide frown; ask students to circle the face that best describes the way they feel about their life right now and explain way in a short paragraph
Iron (Total cereal)fill blender 1/2 way with Total cereal and fill with H2O, blend at high speed for 1 minute; pour contents into beaker and place on magnetic stirrer with stirring bar; after 15-30 minutes, bar will be covered with iron metal flecks
Lactic acid (milk)let whole milk sit out in the classroom for a couple of days; lactose will be converted into lactic acid; stopper flask; no mold growth (anaerobic) and no yeast growth (acids)
Lipid (polarity)mix teaspoon butter in beaker with water, compare to butter in beaker with lighter fluid
Lipids (blender)blend any food that may be high in fat content with water for 60 seconds; watch what floats to surface (Spam, refried beans, Oreo cookies, etc.)
Membranes (diffusion)animal intestines (or Italian sausage casing); rinse and tie off; fill with corn syrup; place in beaker of water (swelling)
Nucleic acid (DNA)DNA model; or extract DNA from cells (onion, liver, wheat germ, testes, etc.) with detergent/salt solutions, stirring, and ice cold 95% ethanol
Observations (first day)have students write a letter to themselves (feelings about new school year and expectations; two measurable goals in biology/chemistry; predictions for year); give back to students on last day of school
Observations (living vs. non-living) break a few pieces of spaghetti into short lengths and soak until soft. Add calcium carbonate pellets to bottom of fishbowl and fill with dilute HCl. Add blue/green/yellow food coloring to look like pond water. 'Worms' will rise and float
Observations (living vs. non-living) have students read pp. 186-187 from M. Crichton's "Andromeda Strain"; develop discussion
Observations, Discrepant eventat each lab station: a1 beaker with 1 tablespoon of white powder (baking soda) and 3 raisins; 1 beaker with liquid (50% water, 50% vinegar). Tell students to add liquid to powder and record 15 observations
Observations, Discrepant event (living vs. non-living) have students define 'life' (list); compare that list to a flame (consume resources, reproduces, grow, die, etc.)
Observations; Discrepant event (first day) glass of FRESH 7-Up ( or Mountain Dew, Sprite, Cola) with raisins ('rabbit feces with a parasite'; ''sewer lice'); why do 'pellets' rise and fall?
Observations; Discrepant event (life; first day) 100ml of Ivory liquid with green food coloring in a beaker; add a chunk of dry ice
Observations; Discrepant event (potato--or apple- candle) make a 'candle' out of potato by using a cork borer; on top put a sliver of Brazil nut as a wick; light and have students make observations; then eat the 'candle'
Observations; Discrepant event (water; combustion; first day) as students enter room, have an empty 500ml flask in hand; tell students some story about the properties of water; put empty flask into sink and switch with similar flask (out of view of students) that has about 1ml of hexane in it; fill to brim with tap water; strike a match and put on top of 'water'
Oxygen (combustion)heat steel wool through flame and quickly place into flask with oxygen
Polarity (packing chips)take two large beakers; fill one with water and the other with acetone; polystyrene packing chips dissolve in the acetone (not water) and starch-based chips dissolve in water (not acetone); you can even eat the starch based ones
Polarity (water)two burets, one with H2O and one with a non-polar liquid (kerosene); drain and rub a comb through your hair, bring comb toward water and kerosene (deodorized)
Pressure (boiling)fill aluminum can with 500 ml of water and boil; remove from heat and invert over sink; place ice cubes on top of flask (can will crush)
Pressure (boiling)put flask of hot coffee into a vacuum chamber and withdraw air
Protein (test)put a few drops of conc. nitric acid on hard boiled egg white (or other protein); acid will turn food yellow
Redoxcoil a copper wire into a graduated cylinder; add 20ml of silver nitrate. Cooper loses electrons (turns solution blue) and silver gains electrons (cooper coil plates with silver solid)
Starch (iodine)compare Minute Rice with iodine and whole grain rice with iodine
Vitamin C (antioxidant)dissolve Vitamin C in water and apply to surface of freshly cut fruit and vegetables
Water (capillary action)place a fresh cut flower (white carnation is best) into a vase of food colored water
Water (condensation)put a glass in the refrigerator for 1 hour; take out for demo
Water (density)place a plastic bottle of water filled with water and covered with aluminum foil in the freezer; ice will push the foil up; or tips of ice cubes in tray
Water (density)place a small vial of heated and colored water onto the bottom of a beaker of cold water; the warm water will rise to the top
Water (pressure)suck water up a straw and quickly cover the top with your finger; fill a flask with water to the brim and slide a piece of cardboard over the top and invert over a student's head
Water (surface tension)fill a bowl with water and place a plastic basket (cherry tomatoes) on the surface; will float although full of 'holes' (or needle. razor blade, etc.)

Compilation by Chris Hilvert/Glenbrook South High School 1997

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