Science is no fun without practical experiments. Unlike middle school, where you limit your study and inquiry of science to the theoretical realm, high school has a different scene. Experiments are a major part of studying science in high school, and biology all the more so. Biology is fascinating. It makes us wonder at the complex system which makes the human body function efficiently; it has all the answers to the questions of death, sickness, and life. But we must admit that only the theoretical explanation of these complex concepts never suffices to give us a satisfactory understanding. That is where practical experiments come to the rescue.
Therefore, this post will cover 10 fascinating biology experiments that high school students can do independently, even at home.
Cool Experiments To Do In Your Bio Lab
While many are intrigued by art competitions, others are moved toward robotic classes. However, in a bunch of students, there are a few who love biology experiments. Hence, here are a few experiments that can be tried out by high schoolers if biology is the subject that piques their interest:
1. Extract DNA
Everyone knows DNA is the agent behind our hereditary traits. Residing in the cell’s nucleus, it guides major aspects of our physiognomy. Usually, the DNA is not visible to the naked eye, you need a powerful microscope to view it, but with this experiment, you can have a fine look at the DNA with this DNA extracting experiment.
Basically, you will be forcefully breaking down some cell walls of the extracted cells by dipping it into your extraction solution. Adding 35ml of dish soap and 5gm of salt in 240 ml of water will give you the extraction solution. Dip and mix some mashed banana slices into the extract, leading the DNA to head out into the solution. Then we will use some alcohol to force the DNA to join up into large chains that we can actually see. You will get a fluffy white substance, the DNA that is visible to the naked eye, made possible by this extraction experiment.
2. Dissect A Flower
Everyone has theoretically seen and known the different parts of a flower. Some exceptional students might even have that picture inscribed in their memory. Very well if you have that, but the hands-on experience of viewing those parts with your own eyes can definitely beat any other theoretical picture-viewing experience.
So, first thing first, go out and choose a bloom. Observe the flower and point out the petals, stamen, and pistil. Use a razor to remove the stamen and observe the Filament and Anther under magnifying glasses. Wipe out some pollen grains and have a detailed look at it under the microscope while you are at them. Next up, remove the pistil and observe your flower’s ovary, stigma, and style with a magnifying glass. This is the simplest yet a fascinating experiment on the list.
3. Raise A Butterfly
Again, we have the theoretical knowledge of the life cycle of a butterfly. Yet it takes us by surprise and wonder when we see the process through our own eyes. So, get ready to be fascinated by a butterfly’s journey from an ugly worm to a colourful butterfly.
The process is easy. You get a caterpillar, observe it daily, and note the changes. The changes will be as precise as your books have always told you. First off, a butterfly lays an egg and a caterpillar hatches from the egg. The caterpillar eats and grows, shedding its skin several times to accommodate its growing belly. Once the caterpillar reaches the right size, it sheds its skin for the last time, revealing the chrysalis, which quickly hardens. Inside the chrysalis, the caterpillar goes through metamorphosis and changes into a butterfly. At the right time, the butterfly breaks out. It hangs onto the chrysalis for a bit, just until its wings dry out and harden. Then, it flies off in search of nectar.
So, in the end, you will be sitting back and enjoying the release of the butterfly you raised with your own very hands.
4. Frog Dissection
Dissecting a frog is one of those lab activities that fascinate and chill you simultaneously. But before you start with the dissection, make sure you take note of all the outer organs like the skin, legs, head, digits, and urinary outlet (cloaca) of the specimen.
You will need a good scalpel, pins, and a dissection tray to cut the frog. After these things are in place, you are all set to perform the three significant incisions on the specimen. Start by cutting from the jaw to down between the legs, then make two horizontal incisions, one above the neck and the other towards the bottom of its legs. At this point, you will start seeing some organs residing in the abdominal cavity. Repeat the same incision on the frog’s abdomen to open the abdominal cavity. Observe the heart, and identify the major organs like the liver, stomach, intestines, and oviducts.
This experiment will definitely leave you amazed at the complex system of nerves, muscles, and bloods that functions interdependently to sustain a living being. However, this experiment should be done in front of teachers and professors in the lab.
5. Diversity Among Plant Samples
Another simple biology experiment involves going into your natural environment, such as a local park, to observe diversity among plant samples. To make the experiment more detailed, students can rub collected samples on filter paper to observe which plants present which colors.
Teens can work to find out why certain plants present certain colors. They can also dissect the flowers of the plants and paste the dissected parts of the flowers in their observation notebooks to make a note of the differences between the flowers of the different species of plants.
6. Yeast Experiment
Another simple and easy experiment on the list for high schoolers is the yeaThis experiment is easy because it only involves taking out four different food samples on different plates and a long-time observation of the mold that grows on each sample.
Studying mold is an excellent way to learn more about ecology and biology. This experiment compares how fast mold grows on different types of foods kept in many American homes. Some of the foods are generally kept in refrigerators to extend shelf life, while others are commonly stored at room temperature. This experiment shows that certain foods grow mold faster than others, which is one reason why these foods are often kept in the refrigerator.
Going a step further, the students can also do research inspired by this experiment and find answers to questions such as: what makes a mold grow? And how does one prevent their growth?
7. Look at cell division under the microscope
Cheap digital microscopes with high magnification power that can be directly connected to your laptop or smartphone are easily available in the market nowadays. You can make use of such microscopes to observe every little thing you find at home or outdoors.
A great experiment to do at home with a microscope is to look at how cells divide in different organisms. One of the easiest is baker’s yeast. With a magnification of at least 400x, you can start discerning the shapes of individual yeast cells in water. You will notice that some of them have little buds on them, which is the way they grow and divide.
Taking it one step further, you can also take the tip of the onion’s root and observe them to study the different stages of mitosis as well.
8. Ferment your own food
Bacteria and yeast are practically geniuses in the art of fermentation. Humans have been taking their help for the longest time to make food items such as bread and alcohol. And it is quite easy to ferment your own food at home.
In most cases, you need a starter culture of the bacteria or fungi that make the food you will be fermenting. You can get it from someone already doing fermentation at home or buy it online. Many options range from kombucha, kefir, or mead to yogurt, cheese, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Each fermented food has different requirements, so ensure you have everything you need before starting. After you have everything in place, you are ready to experiment with this fermented food and its varied tastes.
9. Examining Fingerprints
The tips of each finger of your hand have a combination of lines and features in distinctive patterns that we call fingerprints. Fingerprints are one of the fascinating features of the human body. We have been told that each of us is unique in our light, and our fingerprints prove it to be so. You can analyze your own uniqueness by analyzing your very own fingerprints in this project. All you need is paper, magnifying glass, and stamp ink.
First, you need to press a finger against the ink pad and then against a piece of paper. Then, use the magnifying glass to examine the fingerprints and look for arches, whorls, and loops. You can record your finding on your paper. And then take a friend’s fingerprints to analyze the differences.
10. Create A Fall Leaf (Or Signs Of Spring) Journal
Biology is all about studying life and learning more about our natural surroundings. A Fall Leaf journal or a Signs of Spring journal will help your students learn about the trees and bushes that are in your area. This experiment is easy, needs minimal effort, and is fun and exciting as well.
Things To Remember
Science experiments are interesting by nature, but this aspect of their nature shouldn’t keep us from maintaining our share of vigilant caution. Science experiments could sometimes wreak havoc if we do not take enough caution while doing these experiments. Therefore, in order to prevent yourself from ruining your own experiments, you have to follow some safety instructions while doing these experiments.
Wear covered shoes and long pants while performing any experiment, and keep your hair up so it can’t fall into your experiment or a flame. Don’t carelessly sniff or taste any chemicals; don’t just experiment with everything you get your hands on. Make sure you have your full attention in the experiments, and handle everything with care, especially sharp objects like knives or objects that could produce a flame. And at the end of your experiment, you should also know how to dispose of the waste properly.
In the end of it, what matters the most is that we genuinely imbibe the lessons that we learn from our experiments. These biology experiments will get you further into the fascinating world of biology. If you want to further your knowledge, you may also visit science labs, perform science experiments in the lab, attend workshops and seminars, and meet people and learn from their experiences.
Keep learning, keep experimenting, and keep enjoying the process of learning.