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.
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!
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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