Cell Membrane Bubble Lab Revisited

Cell Membrane Bubble Lab Revisited

Two years ago I came across a great idea for using bubbles to teach concepts related to cell membranes. I used the bubble technique in a lab I did with my students and wrote a post about the experience here on Clear Biology.

The post I wrote remains extremely popular and has been viewed well over 16,000 times. The Haiku Deck slide presentation I created about the lab has been viewed over 28,000 times!

Since writing the original post, I have received numerous requests from other teachers asking for a worksheet to accompany the lab. The truth is, I didn’t have much of a handout when I originally performed the lab with my students. I stumbled upon the idea for doing the lab in an 11th hour way that I’m sure many teachers can relate to.

It was about 6:00 in the evening and I was “Googling” around looking for a little inspiration for getting my students to understand the versatility and complexity of the cell membrane. After seeing the term “soap bubble” appear in my results a few times, my curiosity was piqued. I mean, who doesn’t like bubbles? When I did a Google Image search and saw a comparison between soap molecules and phospholipids, I knew I was on to something special. I looked up a few recipes for making bubbles and ran to the store. I came home with a couple bottles of corn syrup and a box of straws (I already had dish soap). It was probably about 8:00 at this point, and I’m standing in my kitchen playing with bubbles over a baking sheet. I got to bed around midnight that night.

I have no idea what I originally had planned for that next day, but it totally got thrown to the wayside. The next day, every class I taught was playing with bubbles and talking about membranes (even the ones that weren’t currently studying cells). That afternoon, I took a nap.

After doing the lab in class, I never got around to typing up a worksheet. It’s been bugging me for quite some time. The Cell Membrane Bubble Lab is a good one and worthy of a permanent place in the compendium of biology teacher knowledge. So, a couple of days ago I sat down and finally gave the Cell Membrane Bubble Lab a proper piece of documentation.

Click on the image below to download the lab. Enjoy!

Cell Membrane Bubble Lab Revisited


Note: The idea for using bubbles to teach about membranes did not originate with me. From my understanding, this technique has been floating around the biology teacher collective for quite some time. If you have an extension, correction, or other idea about the lab, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Jeremy Conn

Science Teacher and Founder of Clear Biology at Clear Biology
I hold a Master of Arts in Teaching degree and have been teaching science in public schools since 2004. I have a love for biology and instructional design. My mission is to share with other educators the best of what I know about teaching.

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  1. Thanks Jeremy for sharing great ideas and work.It is great help for whole biology community !!!

    • Hey Poonam, Thanks for the kind words!

  2. What a great way to demonstrate the Cell Membrane. My 7th graders will love this lab– and it fits very nicely with our “model” standards. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I have done this lab for years but I really like how you organized the concepts for the students to test. Thanks.

  4. Used this lab this week. My kids loved it! Thanks so much for putting this together!


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