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Six Star Science Teacher-Recommended Collection: Diffusion & Osmosis

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Description Collection Description
The items in this collection are a combination of lab activities that students can perform to learn and gain a better understanding of how diffusion and osmosis works. The first three items in this collection are lab activities working either with eggs and vinegar, or with dialysis tubing and celery. The instructor should select one of these labs to perform with the class to allow student discovery of diffusion prior to introducing the vocabulary. This will allow inquiry-based learning and an opportunity for students to practice experimental design. Following the lab activity and class discussion, students will be led through the fourth resource in a class demonstration of how molecules move randomly. This resource should be reviewed by the instructor and facilitated in a whole-class setting. The last resource should be given to students as a unit assessment, where they will implement vocabulary and concepts learned throughout the unit to complete the lab activity.

How were the items in this collection used?
This collection was used to engage students in hands-on, inquiry-based lessons where they discovered the process and importance of diffusion and osmosis. They practiced implementing the scientific method throughout guided experimental design and applied what they learned to following lessons on diffusion and osmosis.

Who used this collection?
This collection was used by high school Biology students in a class setting for 40 students for 56 minute periods.

Student-centered instruction
Students used experimental design to create their own experiments using eggs and vinegar. During lab activities, students measured, predicted, observed, analyzed, and concluded big ideas of diffusion and osmosis. Students played the role of molecules, moving around the classroom to demonstrate how molecules diffuse across short distances and to conclude why cells must have a small volume to surface area ratio.

Valuing diversity
Students from all learning modalities were reached by use of these hands-on lab activities. Heterogenous student grouping were utilized for students to practice teamwork and drawing on the strengths of their peers. Through the lab activities students were asked to write, measure, modify, observe, discuss, graph, analyze, and present their work which meets the needs of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners.

Integrating technology
During the lab activities, students conducted internet treasure hunts to explore web research on the topics of diffusion and osmosis.

Authentic assessment
The final resource asked students to design an experiment that demonstrated the effect of fresh or salty water on a cell. Students had to apply what they’d previously learned in this unit in order to solve a hypothetical problem of saving the world’s freshwater sources. To solve this problem, students had to explain what would or won’t work, using their experiment as a data set to prove their claim. Students practiced teamwork, and further explored use of experimental design, measuring, data recording and analysis, observation, and prediction, as well as written and oral presentation skills to complete this assignment.

Utilizing accurate and timely content information
This collection draws on recent research through the use of internet treasure hunts which guides students through updated and accurate information on the topic.

Reflecting on teaching and learning
I used the egg experiment in place of a carrot lab I had previously used where students placed carrots into cups of different concentrations of salt water. I liked this experiment better because it left more room for students to modify their test and forced them to really think through what was happening to make sense of their results. I found that by starting the unit this way, students were able to get into an inquiry-based mind set and the rest of the unit went more smoothly. Using these lessons took focus off of teacher-centered instruction and allowed the students to discover what it was I wanted them to learn. Overall it was a successful unit.

Please enter suggestions for colleagues.
Do not all three of the first resources because the lessons are redundant. Instead, select the one that works best with your classroom setting and student population and then use the results of that lesson to guide the remainder of your unit.

Type of Resource Annotated Collection
Format Multiple Formats
Leslie Worton, Edison High School
Grade/Age Levels Middle School (Grades 6-8)
High School lower division (Grades 9-10)
High School upper division (Grades 11-12)
Learning Time 4-6 hours
Language English
Type of Review Reviewed by Partner Organization

Resources in Collection
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The resources in this collection seem very appropriate for a high school introductory course.  I like how the lab investigations are carried out as inquiries to meet the new NGSS science practices requirements.

—Rachel Beattie, Lincoln-Way East High School

These activities are great starting points to transition from more cookbook to inquiry labs in my Freshmen Biology classes.  There are multiple resources to choose from to suit your needs.

—camille jensen, Lincoln Way North High School

These activities/lessons cover a series of fundamentally important concepts for the "cell" unit of study in most biology/anatomy classes. Since there are mostly hands-on activities, they afford students multiple opportunities to visualize/realize the concepts in the textbook. These would take a few days and some can be repetitive - so be selective (pun intended).

—David Upegui, Central Fall High School