A high school biology class is more hands-on than middle school science. All biology courses include experiments, whether they are part of a controlled laboratory class, a science fair, or individual student projects.
Get ideas for simple and easy biology experiments you can incorporate into your classroom by exploring some fascinating high school biology experiments.
Examples of Biology Experiments for High School
A wide range of biology projects for teens are available, whether you are looking for a science fair project or a class assignment.
It is a quintessential part of high school biology to dissect a frog. For your class, try to obtain both female and male specimens so that students can see the eggs and compare the insides.
Frog dissection can make high schoolers uncomfortable. Instead, dissect a flower. The teens can identify the male and female parts of the flower. Using a microscope to examine flower intricacies can be fun for high school students.
Diversity Among Plant Samples
To observe diversity among plant samples in a natural setting, such as a local park, is another simple biology experiment. In order to make the experiment more detailed, students can rub collected samples on filter paper to see which plants have which colors.
Plants exhibit different colors for a variety of reasons, which teens can investigate.
Educating children about how phototropism affects plants can be enlightening. Different materials can be used to affect light in an experiment. It is possible to see how changing the light affects the plant’s growth.
Water From Common Sources
There is always water around. Unfortunately, water contains a number of elements as well. Collecting water samples from different sources and viewing them under a microscope is a great experiment.
After comparing their results, students can postulate why a given source of water would harbor more organisms than another.
In another experiment, molds are monitored over a two-week period on a piece of bread.
There is a taste for everything for everyone. Quite literally! There are some people who like sour things and there are others who like sweet things. Do an in-class experiment to find out if everyone perceives taste the same way and has the same threshold for taste.
Have you ever wondered how effective hand sanitizer is at killing bacteria? Put it to the test! Bacteria can be grown in a Petri dish with paper soaked in peroxide, white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, etc. Discover how each one inhibits bacteria growth.
Pea Plant Genetics
Students can recreate Mendel’s genetic experiments on pea plants. Students can determine the genotype of each parent plant by growing pea plants and comparing their phenotypes.
A fingerprint is one of the most amazing features of the human body. In addition to being able to open your phone with them, each one is unique as well. Examine the different aspects of your fingerprint by putting it on paper. Everyone in the class should compare their fingerprints.
Comparing Animal and Plant Cells
A student can compare the cells from their cheeks to those from an onion to gain a deeper understanding of animal and plant cells. The cell structures can be better seen under a microscope by staining the cells with iodine or another dye.
An effective way to help students understand DNA structure and function is to create a DNA model. You can build a fairly realistic model of the double helix using candy, string, and toothpicks.
Water Bottle Germs
High school is a time when many people refill their water bottles. Is the bottle contaminated with germs or bacteria? Can a disposable water bottle be refilled safely? Take swabs from the water bottles your students use and look for bacteria around the lid or on the bottle.
Hair products are widely used by teens. Are they really effective? Take a few hair samples from teens in your class. Check out what happens to the hair when you add common hair products.
It’s not difficult to understand the water cycle. Teenagers can examine the water cycle firsthand by creating a water cycle experiment. Put a baggie filled with water on a window and have them tape it to it. During the demonstration, they will observe evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.
Closed Ecosystem Bottle
The idea of something having its own ecosystem can be difficult for students to comprehend. It is possible, however, to create a closed ecosystem using a plastic bottle.
Field Survey Biology Experiment
The best part about this experiment is that it is easy, cheap, and you can conduct it in a variety of places around your school or send it home with your students. Monitoring the samples that you collect over time and observing the surrounding area is the objective.
Materials You’ll Need
You will need the following items for this experiment:
- Samples should be collected in a jar or baggie
- Using tweezers
- Hand gloves
- Marking an area with stakes and string or cones is helpful
- To take notes, use paper or a journal
- Microscope, slides, and slide covers
It is important to choose an area where you can re-mark easily or where you can leave the markings up so you can return to the same designated area over several months.
- Students should choose one spot to observe. It should not be larger than two to three feet square.
- Every detail should be noted and written down. Here are some examples of guiding questions:
- Is there evidence of animals around? (Search for prints, scat or guano, fur, owl pellets, etc.)
- Can you tell me what kind of plant life you see? Plants (such as moss, lichen, and weeds) should be observed.
- Is there a fungus on your hands? If you see mushrooms or other fungal growth, look for them.
- What kind of insects do you see? Encourage students to look specifically for relationships here, such as mosquitoes and water or bees and flowers.
Sampling and Classroom Instructions
Follow these instructions to bring research back into the classroom.
- Encourage students to make connections and note relationships in their marked areas. They should make an inventory of the area and draw a crude map showing where everything is located.
- Take samples of soil, fungus, moss, plant life, insects, etc., using tweezers if possible.
- Study the samples back in the classroom. Here are some things to look for:
- Water or soil pH value
- Water microorganisms
- Observing plant cells under a microscope
- Flowers that you find and their comparative structure
- Journals or interactive notebooks should be required for students to record everything.
In the classroom, set up stations for viewing, dissecting, drawing, and testing pH. Having this choice will allow students to examine their specimens in their own way.
Testing for Bacteria
Students should find out where the most bacteria are hiding. For those looking for a lab that guarantees results, this experiment is perfect. Bacteria are always lurking somewhere in students’ Petri dishes, waiting to grow.
Materials you will need are listed below.
- Three Petri dishes per student were prepared
- Swab samples that are sterile
- The painter’s tape
- Tape from Scotch
- Marker with permanent ink
- Paper with graphs
- Hand scissor
- The ruler
You can also purchase sterile Petri dishes and agar separately; however, it is more likely that students will contaminate the plate before swabbing.
Preparing Your Petri Dishes
The preparation of your Petri dishes is crucial to the success of your experiment.
- Students should identify three places (but within the same physical location, such as home or school) where they will swab for bacteria before opening any materials. Have them hypothesize about where bacteria are most likely to grow.
- Cut out three circles from the graph paper after tracing them on the Petri dish.
- Make a line that indicates the circle’s ‘top’ in pencil. Regardless of where you draw the line, you will need something to indicate how your Petri dish is oriented if you want to be sure you’re tracking the same colony every time.
- On the back of the graph paper circle, write the location and date where you will take the swabs. All three Petri dishes should be treated the same way.
Students should bring their closed Petri dishes and unopened sterile swabs to the site. They should carefully:
- Prepare a flat surface for the Petri dish.
- The swab should be unwrapped.
- The swab should be swiped across the area suspected of having bacteria.
- Carefully close the lid after wiping the used swab across the agar with the used swab.
If you want to prevent the Petri dish lid from accidentally falling off, you can tape it shut.
After swabbing the areas, the results are what matter.
- Students should draw circles the size of Petri dishes in their lab books or on separate graph paper. For each dish the student has, draw one week’s worth of Petri dishes.
- Draw the size of the colonies in their notebooks as they grow, making daily observations. Over a month, have them observe on the same day(s) if they cannot observe daily.
- Additionally, they should record the color and other characteristics of their bacteria colonies.
- A conclusion should be written by the students at the end of their study.
The Effect of Light on Growth
The purpose of this lab is to investigate how light affects plant growth. Almost any plant can be used, but cress will grow more quickly, so your students will get results faster.
Make sure you have all the materials you need.
- The cress
- Cup or bowl made of Styrofoam
- Soil for potting
- The ruler
- Taking pictures
Now that you have your materials ready, it’s time to get started.
- The seeds should be planted in the cups on Day 1.
- The cups should be labeled according to the type of light you will use. There are several types of light that you can compare, such as sunlight versus complete darkness.
- Every day after the initial day, take a picture of each cup and try to measure its growth.
- Note the color and shape characteristics of the sprouts for your lab entries.
Students will test whether cutting planaria makes a difference in how they regenerate and observe how quickly they regenerate.
You will need to grab something in order to conduct this experiment.
- There are nine planarias
- Three small plastic Petri dishes
- Petri dish, large, made of plastic
- Pipette made of plastic
- Magnifying glass 1
- Coverlip made of plastic
- Water from springs
- Marker with permanent ink
- Disposable paper towels
- Pack of ice (optional)
When it comes to creating fun and interesting biology experiments for high schoolers, getting the setup right is half the battle.
- To avoid confusion later, number the three small Petri dishes.
- Move a planarian into the large Petri dish using the pipet.
- Try setting the Petri dish on an ice pack for a few minutes at this point. There is no need to do this, but it will slow down the planarian, making it easier to cut.
- The planarian should be cut in three places:
- In the back of the head
- The middle of the road
- To the right, towards the tail
- Each segment should be transferred gently to a new Petri dish (with spring water) using the pipet.
- All remaining worm segments should be repeated in the same manner.
- Keep an eye on the planaria every day. Upon appearing on the planarian’s head, the photoreceptors (black dots that resemble eyes) will indicate that the regeneration is complete.
Scientific Method and High School Biology Experiments
Students are taught science elements in high school biology. These main focuses include the scientific method. Participants in science are encouraged to think like investigators and to generate hypotheses about what will happen in a given experiment. The experiment is then designed to either prove or disprove the hypothesis. By doing so, teens are encouraged to engage in the scientific method while learning other scientific skills, such as:
- Using present factors and knowledge to make a rational estimate
- Ability to pay close attention to details and monitor
- What to do if you turn out to be wrong and how to move on
- Skills in quick thinking
Biological experiments can be fun, but there is also an educational component to them.
Fun and Interesting High School Biology Experiments
Taking biology in high school can be a lot of fun for teens. It is possible to make biology more than just another course of study by finding the right experiment. You never know, right? You might even inspire your student to enter a science fair or to pursue a science-related career?