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AP Biology Labs
Welcome! Here you will find copies of most of the labs and activities that we perform in class. Some are only available from the AP Lab book, so I cannot post those online.

 Anatomy & Phyiology
  • The Effects of Stimulants & Depressants on Heart Rate
    This is a wonderful lab developed by Paula Donham (Olathe East High School, Kansas). She has given me permission to share it. All kudos for a great A&P investigation go to her. The lab uses blackworms (Lumbriculus variegatus) to test the effects of different drugs/chemical on heart rate.
  • Anatomy of The Human Brain
    Otherwise known as "The Brain Cap Lab." In this exercise students will map the human brain -- both anatomy and function -- so that they can develop a more accurate picture of what's going on inside their heads :-)
  • Lights, Camera, Action Potential
    A great simulation of an action potential. This comes from a Neuroscience lab manual that NABT published to members in 1996. (graciously shared by Cheryl Hollinger)
 Animal Behavior
  • Animal Behavior: Aggressive Display in Betta
    Learning the process of scientific inquiry by studying the behavior of Siamese Fighting Fish
  • Animal Behavior: Food Preferences of Slugs
    Students design & carry out their own experiment to test a slug's preference between two or more food sources. This exercise uses slugs to teach the difference between observation and opinion and introduces the concepts of controls & hypothesis testing.
 Biochemistry
  • Building Macromolecules
    A paper-scissors-tape activity used to help students envision the process of synthesis -- building macromolecules out of smaller subunits
    • Instructions
    • Photos -- my classes in action (both Regents and AP Biology).
    • Glucose -- print on many different colors of paper to symbolize different sugars. Have students name each sugar with any name they want as long as it ends in -ose. Kimose is one of my favorites... or "ILoveBioTheMose"! Students can get very creative!
    • Water Drops (large) -- I print on blue paper to symbolize water.
    • Water Drops (small) -- easier to use for building fats. I print on blue paper to symbolize water.
    • Glycerol (legal)
    • Glycerol (letter) -- in case you don't have legal size paper.
    • Saturated Fatty Acid (legal)
    • Saturated Fatty Acid (letter) -- in case you don't have legal size paper.
    • Unsaturated Fatty Acid (legal) -- print on different color paper than saturated fatty acid to accent difference.
    • Unsaturated Fatty Acid (letter) -- in case you don't have legal size paper. Print on different color paper than saturated fatty acid to accent difference.
    • Amino Acids -- I have been wanting to improve these a bit but I haven't had the time. They are fine the way they are. Please use them. I have used them for years -- I just wanted to (obsessively) polish them. I print each one on a different color as much as possible. I give each student lab group an amino acid sequence to build (included in this ZIP archive). I ask them to use their text to identify & label each amino acid in their sequence and determine if each is polar (hydrophilic) or nonpolar (hydrophobic). They then bond the sequence using the water droplets for dehydration synthesis and then they have to predict how this chain will behave in the aqueous solution of the cell -- which parts will fold inward and which outward. I give them a lot of leeway on the last part. They then have to name their polypeptide with a name ending with -in, like most proteins. BTW, the amino acids may look slightly differently in the book depending if they are illustrated as ionized or not -- that makes for a good discussion about the effects of biochemistry in the watery environment of the cell.
    • DNA template -- have each group cut this template page down the middle and tape the two template strands end-to-end to make a longer chain for the template. I tend to copy these onto card stock so they are sturdier to hang in the classroom.
    • DNA monophosphate bases -- Print each base's page in a different color and have students cut apart to build the complement to the DNA template from above. I tend to copy these onto card stock so they are sturdier to hang in the classroom. These are monophosphate nucleotides for the introduction to building the DNA molecule.
 Cells
  • Cell Membranes
    A kinesthetic activity that allows students to be creative in building their own models of cell membranes.
  • Diffusion and Osmosis
    This is an alternative to the AP Diffusion and Osmosis lab. The explanation has been simplified and the summary questions have been expanded.
  • Limits to Cell Size
    A fun lab that vividly demonstrates the relationship between surface area, volume and diffusion time.
  • Apple Head Dolls
    This is more of a holiday activity with a biology twist. A fun exercise that measures how much water is in cells and gives students a present to give to Mom!
  • Mitosis and Cancer
    This is an alternative to the AP Mitosis and Meiosis lab. I separate out mitosis to its own lab and bring in the issue of loss of regulation of mitosis leading to cancer.
 Enzymes & Metabolism
 Evolution
  • Natural Selection of Butterflies
    An enjoyable and educational simulation of natural selection through a game of predator and prey in camouflaged butterfly populations.
  • Natural Selection of Strawfish
    This lab is specificaly designed to warm students up to the idea of Hardy-Weinberg before you hit them with the math.
  • Population Genetics
    An alternative to the AP Hardy-Weinberg Lab.
  • Human Evolution at AMNH
    A lab that walks students through the Hall of Human Origins at the American Museum of Natural History. There is also a short exercise for the Hall of Biodiversity tacked on at the end, because who can go the museum without visiting the BIG Blue Whale!
  • Building A Cladogram: Walruses, Whales, and Seals, Oh My!
    In this lab, students use sequence information in GenBank and bioinformatics software to test hypotheses about the relationship between aquatic mammals and their potential ancestral relationship to land mammals. In the process, students learn how to build cladograms from molecular data and how to analyze them to make phylogenetic conclusions.
 Genetics
  • Virtual Fly Lab
    Genetics studies using the excellent Drosophila breeding simulation at Virtual Fly. Students are assigned traits to analyze.
  • The Chi-Square Test
    What do genetics, probability, and random chance have in common?
  • Meiosis
    Following chromosomes through the special division process of meiosis to create haploid reproductive cells.
 Molecular Genetics
  • Protein Synthesis Lab -- A paper-scissor-tape activity used to help students envision the process of protein synthesis -- transcription, post-transcriptional processing, translation, and the effect of mutations.
  • Replication Activity -- although we end up with a poster, the goal of this activity is to re-enact replication. The group of students (I usually do groups of 4 since there is a lot of cutting) must act out replication for the teacher using these "players" and only in the end do they memorialize everything as a poster.
    • Photos -- View some photos showing the end result of our DNA replication modeling activity.
    • DNA template -- have each group cut this template page down the middle and tape the two template strands end-to-end to make a longer chain for the template. You'll see in the photos I make two different colors on cardstock so we can identify leading and lagging strands.
    • DNA triphosphate bases -- These are triphosphate nucleotides for a higher level of understanding of how a DNA molecule is built (for AP students). All triphosphate bases are on one page. Have students cut apart to build the complement to the DNA template from above, but have them model the cleaving off of the diphosphate by DNA polymerase so they understand the energetics of the process. I tend to copy these onto 4 different colored cardstocks so they are sturdier to hang in the classroom.
    • RNA primer bases -- These are the RNA primers that primase adds on for the start of replication. I tend to copy these onto yet a different colored cardstock than the triphosphate bases, so they stand out, like bright red.
    • Replication enzymes -- I give the students a variety of colors of blank paper or cardstock and they have to make their own enzymes: helicase, single-stranded binding proteins, primase, DNA polymerase III, DNA polymerase I, ligase, telomerase (if you want). They also have to label 5 and 3 prime sides of everything and leading strand, lagging strand, and Okazaki fragments.
 Molecular Biology & Biotechnology
  • Restriction Enzyme Digest Simulation
    Use the power of a word processing program to simulate the action of restriction enzymes on the actual lambda phage DNA sequence.
  • Cloning a Paper Plasmid
    A nice quick paper demo on the process of cloning a gene into a plasmid using a simulation of the puc18 plasmid & the Jellyfish Glo gene sequence.
  • Sanger Sequencing
    Sequencing is easier to understand when you can see it in action rather than when you hear it explained in words. This is a great simulation using colored beads.
  • Human Genome Scavenger Hunt
    Find your way around the human genome and learn how to use the UCSC Genome Browser -- a genome search tool that many researchers use.
  • Sickle Cell Bioinformatics
    Design a DNA probe to diagnose carriers of Sickle Cell Anemia. Uses UCSC Genome Browser and Primer3 primer design websites. Review of genetic disease, recessive inheritance, circulatory system physiology.
 Plants
  • Pollen Tube Growth
    This was a very informal exercise that I did one year and it worked so well I do it every year. Students set up a pollen wet mount on onion epidermis. We "incubate" overnight in a plastic container just to keep slides moist. The next day students can see pollen tube growth!
 Scientific Method
  • Seed Germination
    A simple lab teaching the process of scientific inquiry by studying factors affectng germination of lentil seeds.
  • Animal Behavior: Aggressive Display in Betta
    Learning the process of scientific inquiry by studying the behavior of Siamese Fighting Fish
  • Animal Behavior: Food Preferences of Slugs
    Students design & carry out their own experiment to test a slug's preference between two or more food sources. This exercise uses slugs to teach the difference between observation and opinion and introduces the concepts of controls & hypothesis testing.
  • Worms Keep the Beat: Blackworm Heart Rate
    This lab is completely built on the work of Paula Donham, Olathe East High School, Kansas. A series of experiments using blackworms and treatments with stimulants and depressants to measure changes in heart rate. This lab is used to teach students the scientific method. I start this on Day 1 of my course and spend a full week on it, so we get this protocol and understanding solid from the beginning of the year.







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