How did life on Earth begin? Many scientists believe that the first cells were simply aggregates of organic molecules called coacervates. In this lab, students will first test and observe the effect of pH on coacervate formation. In the second part of the activity, students must design their own experiment to test the effect of a different variable on coacervate formation.
This resource is two lab activities in one download.
• In the first lab activity:
Students will follow a procedure to learn how coacervates are made, and will determine the ideal pH for coacervate formation.
• In the second lab activity:
Students will design and carry out a controlled experiment to test other factors that affect the formation of coacervates.
What is included in this product?
• Editable lab handouts that are ready to be printed and passed out to your students.
• Two versions of student handouts: Do you want the students to write their own lab reports, or do you want to provide handouts for students to fill as they work?
• 5-Page Handout for the Student Designed Experiment.
• Characteristics of Life PowerPoint (11 slides)
• Complete instructions.
• Teacher Guide (6 Pages) containing tips, tricks, and suggestions.
• Complete Answer Key and Sample Data.
• Everything you need for the successful completion of this lab.
This lab makes an excellent addition to your unit on the origin of life and the early history of life on Earth. I use this lab after teaching this material: The History of Life on Earth PowerPoint With Notes
Purpose of the Lab:
• To simulate Oparin’s work by mixing a protein solution with a carbohydrate solution to produce coacervates.
• To observe the shared characteristics between coacervates and living cells.
• To determine the ideal pH level for producing the most coacervates in a solution.
• To design and carry out a controlled experiment to test other factors that affect coacervate formation.
Materials and supplies required for this lab include:
Glass test tube with cap, Graduated cylinders, Gelatin solution (protein), Gum Arabic (carbohydrate), Glass stirring rod, pH paper, .1M HCl solution, Dropping pipets, Microscope, Test tube rack, Microscope slides.
Included in the download are two versions of the guided lab activity. Use Version 1 (3 pages) of the lab if you want your students to use their own notebook paper to write their own lab reports. Use Version 2 (6 pages) of the lab if you want to print the student data handouts and allow the students to record their data and answers on these handouts.
The “student designed experiment” (5 pages) is optional, but highly recommended. This is a time consuming activity, but it is well worth the time to teach your students how to design and carry out a lab experiment. In the handouts provided for the student designed experiment, 6 options are given for additional variables that can be tested. I assign one of these variables to each group of students. You may think of additional testable options that you would like to include. At the conclusion of the lab, I have each group make a short report to the class, giving their hypothesis and the results they obtained.
Also included is a page "Teacher Guide to the Lab." This includes information on how to prep the lab, directions for mixing solutions, tips on setting up the lab, sample data, sample graph, and answers to all questions.
All documents and the PowerPoint are included in multiple formats (doc, docx, PDF, ppt and pptx).
Approximate time required to complete:
Teacher preparation: 30 minutes
Student lab activity: 45 minutes. Students may have to complete some questions for homework.
Student designed experiment: 30 minutes for planning and 45 minutes for conducting lab and completing handouts.
Related products include:
The History of Life on Earth PowerPoint With Notes for Teacher and Student
Origin of Life of Earth Homework Assignments
Task Cards: Earth's History and the Origin of Life
Crossword Puzzle: Earth's History and the Origin of Life
The Geologic Time Scale Activity
Earth's History and the Origin of Life Unit Test
Darwin's Theory of Evolution PowerPoint and Notes
History of Life on Earth Question and Answer Review PowerPoint
History of Life on Earth Quizzes
Evolution and Classification: Warm Ups, Bell Ringers and Interactive Notebooks
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