Cells are the staple of biology education, so understanding how they work is incredibly important. A great way to introduce your students to cells is with a fun microscopic experiment that will let them see cells up close. This guide comes from Microscopes for Schools who made a great quick guide for this activity.
Introduction to the Activity
In order to conduct this activity, you will need a set of microscopes and elodea leaves. You can find elodea leaves at big brand pet stores like Petsmart or Petco, as well as online.
This activity involves using microscopes to view cellular activity within elodea leaves. Adding a salt solution to the leaf samples will produce an observable effect that can help students understand the processes of plant cells. Elodea plants are a great way to observe cell walls and chloroplasts.
Elodea plants, commonly known as “water weeds” are an aquatic plant species often used to decorate aquariums. This pond plant is a great way to reduce algae, clarify water, and provide aquarium fish with a source of shade. Because it is readily sold in pet stores, it is a great plant to experiment with.
Elodea plants can demonstrate a number of processes and microscopic structures. Elodea plants can be used to visualize and demonstrate the processes of photosynthesis and plasmolysis, but this guide will show you how to use elodea plants to look specifically at their cells.
As a species of plant, elodea cells have thick cell walls surrounding the cell membrane. Elodea cells, like all plants, contain green chloroplasts that aid in the processes of photosynthesis and energy conversion. These two cellular structures are easy to spot under a microscope and highlight two main differences between animal cells and plant cells.
Connecting Concepts (NGSS)
Disciplinary Core Ideas
LS1.A: Structure and Function
- Within cells, special structures are responsible for particular functions, and the cell membrane forms the boundary that controls what enters and leaves the cell.