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Merchant Taylors’ School

Biology A-Level
Core Practical Workbook

Edexcel Specification
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A-Level Core Practicals
1.1 The effect of caffeine on heart rate

1.2 The vitamin C content of fruit juice

2.1 The effect of temperature on membranes

2.2 Enzyme concentration and rate of reaction

3.1 Observing mitosis

3.2 Totipotency and plant tissue culture

4.1 The strength of plant fibres

4.2 Investigating plant mineral deficiencies

4.3 The antimicrobial properties of plants

Some key expressions:

Control Variable: A factor that is kept constant so that its


effects on the dependent variable are
consistent throughout all experiments

Independent Variable: The factor that affects the dependent


variable. The factor you change.

Dependent Variable: The factor that is affected by the


independent variable. The factor you
measure.

Reliability: The same results are recorded if the


experiment is repeated. Standard deviation
and / or standard error are an excellent
measures of reliability.

Accuracy: There is little difference between your


results and the recorded “true” results

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Validity: A combination of accuracy and reliability.
Valid results are representative and can be
used to make accurate predictions.

Random Error: A mistake in the method or malfunction in


the equipment which leads to the production
of a single anomalous result, inconsistent
with the trend. Once spotted, a random
error should be either repeated or ignored.

Systematic Error: Usually down to an uncontrolled factor, a


systematic error affects the entire
experiment, usually shifting the results by a
consistent amount each experiment.
Systematic errors always produce
inaccurate results, but in some cases the
data produced may still be reliable; and, as a
trend may still be observable, valid to a
degree.

Null Hypothesis: The opposite of your working hypothesis: i.e.


that the independent variable has no effect
on the dependent variable. You aim to
disprove this hypothesis in your experiment.

Experimental Hypothesis: Your working hypothesis that the


independent variable does have an effect on
the dependent variable. By disproving the
Null Hypothesis you can accept your
Experimental Hypothesis1.

1
Note: it is virtually impossible to prove something correct, yet very simple to prove something
incorrect. Therefore, scientists aim to disprove their Null Hypothesis, which then allows them to accept
their Experimental Hypothesis according to the principle of Occam’s Razor.

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How Science Works

Part of Biology A-level is an assessment of “How science works”- an


overview of the scientific process, neatly summarized into 12
criteria. You can be asked questions relating to these criteria in any
written paper, so look at them carefully!

Each Core Practical has been designed to introduce you to some of


these criteria. As you complete the practicals you should make a
note in the table of which criteria the practical meets.

Criteria Learning Outcome Practical


1) Use theories, models and a) Explain how the development of
ideas to develop and modify scientific theories involves
scientific explanations hypothesizing, collecting and
interpreting data and using
creative thinking

b) Explain the importance of


modeling as a way of developing
scientific understanding
2) Use knowledge and a) Distinguish between questions
understanding to pose that science can address, and
scientific questions, define those which science cannot
scientific problems, present address
scientific arguments and
b) Identify scientific questions or
scientific ideas
problems within a given context

c) Apply scientific theories to


answer scientific questions or
address scientific problems
3) Use appropriate Justify methods, techniques and
methodology, including ICT, processes used during scientific
to answer scientific investigations, including use of
questions and solve ICT, to collect valid and reliable
scientific problems data and produce scientific
theories for a chosen question or
problem

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Criteria Learning Outcome Practical
4) Carry out experimental Produce a risk assessment before
and investigative activities, carrying out a range of practical
including appropriate risk work
management, in a range of
contexts
5) Analyse and interpret a) Analyze data including use of;
data to provide evidence,
- Descriptive statistics (mean,
recognizing correlations and
mode and median, error bars, SD,
causal relationships
identification of outliers and
range)

- Graphic representation to
identify patterns and
relationships (e.g. correlation and
cause)

b) Interpret data with reference


to the methods of the analysis
used
6) Evaluate methodology, Evaluate the validity of
evidence and data, and inferences made from data in
resolve conflicting evidence terms of the methods, techniques
and processes used to collect and
analyze the data, recognizing any
systematic or random errors
present or conflicting evidence
7) Appreciate the tentative Explain how scientific theories
nature of scientific are developed, refined, supported
knowledge or refuted as new data or new
interpretations of data become
available
8) Communicate information Present scientific information
and ideas in appropriate using text, graphics and other
ways using appropriate media as appropriate using
terminology scientific terminology with
reference to data and credible
sources

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Criteria Learning Outcome Practical
9) Consider applications and a) Evaluate activities in terms of
implications of science and their associated benefits and
appreciate their associated risks to humans, other organisms
benefits and risks and the environment

b) Discuss the risk associated


with an activity in terms of the
actual level of the risk and its
potential consequences,
associated uncertainties, and the
factors affecting people’s
perception of the risk
10) Consider ethical issues a) Identify ethical issues arising
in the treatment of humans, from the application of science as
other organisms and the it impacts on humans, other
environment organisms and the environment

b) Discuss scientific solutions


from a range of ethical viewpoints
11) Appreciate the role of a) Discuss the importance of
the scientific community in critical evaluation of new data or
validating new knowledge new interpretations of data which
and ensuring integrity challenge established scientific
theories or propose new theories

b) Describe how the process of


communication through journals
and conferences and peer reviews
contributes to the validation of
new scientific theories by the
scientific community
12) Appreciate the ways in Discuss how science influences
which society uses science decisions on an individual, local,
to inform decision-making national or international level

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1.1 The effect of caffeine on heart rate

Plants produce caffeine as an insecticide. Cocoa in South America,


coffee in Africa and tea in Asia have all been used for hundreds of
years to produce ‘pick-me-up’ drinks. This is because in humans
caffeine acts as a stimulant, causing increased amounts of
stimulatory neurotransmitters to be released. In addition caffeine
has a direct affect on the myocytes of the heart.

At high levels caffeine consumption has been linked to insomnia,


restlessness, anxiety, increased stress and hypertension. This can
lead to heart and circulatory problems.

Method:

• Culture of Daphnia (water fleas) • Caffeine solution • Stopclock


• 3 cavity slides • Cotton wool • Paper towels or filter paper
• 3 dropping pipettes • Pipettes • Microscope (+ lamp if
• Distilled water or pond water • Test tubes needed)

1 Place a few strands of cotton wool on a heart

cavity slide to restrict the movement of the


water flea. Using a pipette transfer one gut

large water flea to a cavity slide, keeping antenna

plenty of water surrounding the flea. Do not


eye
use a cover slip. Focus on the Daphia’s
legs
heart, which can be seen through its Daphnia
translucent body

2 Use a clicker, calculator or pencil and a stopclock to record the


)) number of heartbeats in one minute

3 Repeat the process at least two more times and take an average
)
4 Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have recorded the average heart
) rate of the Daphnia for at least five different concentrations of
caffeine. Work in pairs using the blind technique

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Controls:

Factor Why you controlled it How you controlled it

Results:

Caffeine Heart Rate Heart Rate Heart Rate Heart Rate


Standard
Concentration Repeat 1 / Repeat 2 / Repeat 3 / Average
Deviation
/ % bpm bpm bpm bpm

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Graph:

Galton formulated standard deviation in the late 1860s. It is used


to show dispersal of data and, therefore, reliability. Calculate the
standard deviation of your 5 different caffeine solutions and use
this to plot error bars on your graph.

Comment on the relationship between the IV and DV and the reliability of the
experiment.

Evaluation:

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Ethics

As a class, brainstorm the ethical implications of using animals in


experiments. What precautions did you take to ensure their safety?
Is it appropriate to use animals in scientific research? Does the
Utilitarian argument apply to this practical?

Ethical Point Comment

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Questions

1 What is the Independent Variable in this experiment?

2 What controlled variables did we fail to control?

3 What is the definition of a perfectly reliable experiment?

4 Are perfectly reliable experiments valid?

5 Why did we use Daphnia in this experiment?

Extension: caffeine affects neurotransmitter levels in the brain.


Daphnia have no ‘brain’, so how did the caffeine produce it’s effect?

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Notes, Comments:

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1.2 The vitamin C content of fruit

Fruit juice is recommended as a good source of the antioxidant


vitamin C and large volumes are sold every day in bottles and
cartons. In 2004, two high school students in New Zealand, who
were conducting an experiment to determine the vitamin C levels
of their favourite fruit drinks, found that the levels in one well-
known blackcurrant juice drink were much lower than those the
manufacturer claimed it contained. The manufacturer dismissed
the concerns saying the claim related only to the blackcurrant
fruit and not the product. However, the case was taken up by a
television consumer affairs show and, after further testing, it
was found that statements about the levels of vitamin C had
been misleading. 15 charges were brought under the Fair
Trading Act. In March 2007 the manufacturer pleaded guilty to
all 15 charges and was fined NZ$217 500.

Choose one of the following questions to investigate.

• Which type of fruit juice provides the most vitamin C?


• Is drinking fruit juice from a carton just as good as
eating fresh fruit to maintain high levels of antioxidant
vitamin C in your diet?

(Remember that fruit juice sold in cartons is ‘long life’ and does
not require refrigeration because it has been heat treated.)

Planning

The quantity of vitamin C in food and drink can be determined


using a simple colour test. Vitamin C decolourises the blue dye
DCPIP (dichlorophenolindolphenol). Vitamin C is an antioxidant
and reduces the DCPIP. DCPIP changes from blue to colourless
(or slightly pink) as it becomes reduced.

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Design an experiment to test the question you have chosen

You will be provided with the following equipment:


• Range of fruit and or fruit juices • Pipette, syringe or burette to measure volumes
• Standard 1% vitamin C solution accurately
• 1% DCPIP solution • Standard laboratory glassware and apparatus

Make sure your plan;

• Includes the question or problem that you are testing

• Includes a procedure that uses suitable apparatus to test


your question or problem

• Identifies the independent and dependent variables

• Identifies any other variables which may affect the outcomes


of the experiment and, where possible, controls or allows for
them

• Has a control, if appropriate, that is fully explained

• Includes repeats and an explanation of why these are


necessary

• Says what measurements you will make, how they will be made,
and the level of accuracy that you can expect from your
measurements

• Includes an assessment of any risk

Use the following headings for your plan;

Introduction (explain what you plan to investigate)


Method (a list of numbered points, include quantities, volumes)
Diagram (surely you can work this one out for yourself?)
Controls (use a table for this)
Risk (identify any hazards and state precautions taken)

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Results:

Volume required for colour change / ml


Test Reagent Repeat 1 Repeat 2 Average

Analysis & Comments:

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Questions

1 What is an antioxidant?

2 What is a free radical and why are they so bad for DNA?

3 What else exposes us to free radicals?

Extension 1: free radical damage is a proposed mechanism for


ageing. Do you agree with this theory?

Extension 2: vitamin C is also important in the formation of collagen.


What is collagen and what is its role in scurvy?

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2.1 The effect of temperature on membranes

You will need:


• Raw beetroot • Water baths at 0, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, • Stopclock
• Size 4 cork borer 60, 70 °C • Distilled water
• White tile • 2 boiling tube racks • Pipette for measuring 2 cm3
• Knife • 8 boiling tubes • Small measuring cylinders
• Ruler • Thermometer (one per water bath) • Waterproof marking pen
• Plastic beaker about 250 cm3 • Colorimeter
• Forceps • Cuvettes

Method:
1 Cut sections from a single beetroot using a cork borer. Cut
eight 1cm length slices from these sections. Be careful:
beetroot juice stains

2 Place the sections in a beaker of distilled water to wash away


any excess juice

3 Pipette 5cm3 distilled water into three boiling tubes

4 Place a chip of beetroot into each tube and put into a


waterbath at 20°C for 30min

5 Remove the beetroot sections and shake the tubes to


disperse the dye in the solution

6 Switch on the colorimeter and calibrate it with a cuvette of


2cm3 of distilled water.

7 Pipette 2cm3 of the dye solution into a clean cuvette and take
an absorbance reading. Repeat for the remaining two chips.

8 Repeat steps 4 to 7 with the other temperatures in the range

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Controls:

Factor Why you controlled it How you controlled it

Risk Assessment:

Risk 1: Precaution:

Risk 2: Precaution:

Risk 3: Precaution:

Risk 4: Precaution:

Risk 5: beetroot stains Precaution: washing beetroot chips carefully

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Results:

Temperature Absorbance Absorbance Absorbance Average


/ °C 1 / AU 2 / AU 3 / AU Absorbance / AU

Graph:

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Analysis:

Trend Explanation

A note on Systematic Errors (if applicable)

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Questions

1 What is the effect of temperature on molecules?

2 What happens to membranes at ~50°C?

3 What is the effect of alcohol on membranes?

4 Give an example of an enzyme that does not denature at 50°C

Extension: What is the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution? How does


this help our understanding of the effect of temperature on rates of
reaction?

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Notes & Comments:

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2.2 Enzyme concentration and rate of reaction

The aim of this activity is to investigate the effect of reduction


in enzyme concentration on the rate of reaction by measuring
the initial rate of reaction. In this case the reaction
investigated is the breakdown of starch by amylase enzyme.

We are going to use agar plates impregnated with starch and iodide
solution. Remember, starch turns blue/black in the presence of iodide
solution. As the starch is digested, the colour of the agar will change.

Write a prediction for the relationship between the concentration of


amylase and the clear circle of digested starch. Use scientific ideas
to support your prediction.

Design an experiment to test the answer you have suggested.

You are provided with the following equipment:


• Standard amylase suspensions of different concentrations
• Standard laboratory glassware and apparatus, including a ruler, stopclock and thermometer
• Agar plates impregnated with iodinated starch

Design an experiment to test the question you have chosen

Make sure your plan;

• Includes the question or problem that you are testing

• Includes a procedure that uses suitable apparatus to test


your question or problem

• Identifies the independent and dependent variables

• Identifies any other variables which may affect the outcomes


of the experiment and, where possible, controls or allows for
them

• Has a control, if appropriate, that is fully explained

• Includes repeats and an explanation of why these are


necessary

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• Says what measurements you will make, how they will be made,
and the level of accuracy that you can expect from your
measurements

• Includes an assessment of any risk

Use the following headings for your plan;

Introduction (explain what you plan to investigate)


Method (a list of numbered points, include quantities, volumes)
Diagram (surely you can work this one out for yourself?)
Controls (use a table for this)
Risk (identify any hazards and state precautions taken)

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Results:

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Diameter of clear circle / mm
Amylase conc / % Repeat 1 Repeat 2 Average

Graph:

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Trends and Explanation:

A note on Accuracy (if applicable)

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Questions

1 Why is iodinated agar used?

2 How does iodide cause starch to turn blue/black?

3 Generally, why do scientists use as wide a range as possible?

4 We could have done a similar practical using protease enzyme and


agar impregnated with protein powder. Why might we prefer to
use amylase?

5 Does the rate of reaction ever plateau? Why?

Extension: What is the induced fit hypothesis and why is it different


to the lock and key theory?
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Notes & Comments:

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3.1 Observing mitosis

To see mitosis in action you need to look at living cells. Garlic


bulbs grow roots that have actively dividing cells in their tips.
Each cell has only eight chromosomes so it is relatively easy to
see the chromosomes once they have condensed.

In order to see the chromosomes inside the cells, the cells


must be separated and spread out into a layer that is ideally
just one cell thick. Plant cells are glued together by a middle
lamella of pectin proteins. Hydrochloric acid will break down
the pectins that hold the cell together. Use the method below
to stain the chromosomes.

You will need:


• Garlic roots • Test tube
• Scalpel or sharp knife • 2 pipettes (and pipette fillers) or small measuring cylinders
• 1 M hydrochloric acid • Microscope slides and coverslips
• Ethanoic alcohol (acetic alcohol) • Pair of fine forceps
• Orcein ethanoic stain (acetic orcein) • Mounted needle
• Ice-cold distilled water • Filter paper or soft tissue paper
• Water bath at 60°C • Microscope with magnifications of ×100 and ×400
• 2 watch glasses or small sample tubes • Safety goggles

Method:

1 Put a test tube containing 2 cm3 1 M hydrochloric acid


into a water bath at 60 °C.
2 Cut off 1–2 cm from several root tips of some growing
garlic roots. Choose root tips which are white and have a
firm rounded end; tips that are turning brown will give
poor results.
3 Put the root tips in a watch glass containing
approximately 2 cm3 of acetic alcohol. Heat the watch
glass gently for 5 min using a hot plate.

4 Remove the root tips and place them in a second watch


glass with approximately 5 cm3 ice-cold water. Leave for
4–5 minutes, then dry the root tips on filter paper. It is
important to blot the tips well to remove the water at
this stage or a precipitate may form when staining

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5 Put the root tips into the pre-heated hydrochloric acid
for exactly 5 minutes.

6 Transfer one of the root tips to a clean microscope


slide. Cut about 4–5 mm from the growing tip. Keep the
rounded tip and discard the rest. The meristem tip is
usually a denser white and more rounded than the cut
end. If you take the wrong end, the presence of xylem
will make maceration more difficult.
7 Gently break up the root tip cells with a mounted needle
(this is called maceration).

8 Add one small drop of orcein ethanoic stain and leave to


stain for 2 minutes.
9 Cover with a coverslip, and blot firmly with several layers
of tissue or filter paper. Press gently to spread the root
tip, or tap gently on the coverslip with the end of a
pencil.
10 View under the microscope (×400 magnification) and look
for cells with chromosomes. If cells are overlapping,
squash the slide again between two wads of filter paper.
Avoid lateral movement of the coverslip.
11 Look for regularly shaped, actively dividing cells. DNA
stains dark red/black with acetic orcein stain so you
should be able to see red/purple groups of chromosomes
against a paler pink background.

Examine your preparation carefully for cells undergoing


different stages of mitosis.

Questions:

1 Identify cells in the following stages of mitosis:


interphase, prophase, metaphase, anaphase and
telophase. Draw one cell to illustrate each stage. Your
drawings will be simple outlines of the cells and the
groups of chromosomes in them as few other structures
will be visible. Aim to show the relative sizes and positions
of the chromosomes and the cell accurately. Annotate to
describe what is happening.

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Prophase Metaphase

Anaphase Telophase

Interphase Spare (just in case)

2 Count the number of cells in the area visible under the


microscope when viewed at ×400 (the field of view).
Count the number of cells in each stage of mitosis.
Record your results in the table.

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Number of cells in this stage
Total Prophase Metaphase Anaphase Telophase Interphase

3 Calculate the percentage of the cells in each stage of


mitosis. Rank these values from highest to lowest. Given
that your preparation freezes the process of mitosis at
one point of time, what do these values suggest to you
about the length of time a cell spends in each stage of
mitosis?

Percentage of cells in this stage (highest to lowest)


% % % % %

4 If a group of cells is dividing rapidly, a high proportion of


the cells will be undergoing mitosis. A group of cells that
is not dividing will have all cells in interphase of the cell
cycle. The amount of cell division occurring in a tissue
can be quantified using the mitotic index. The mitotic
index is used for studying tumour growth in cancer
patients. Using the formula below, calculate the mitotic
index for your root tip. If you have time, compare this
value with the mitotic index of an area of cells away from
the tip and comment on your findings.

Number of cells containing visible chromosomes


Mitotic Index =
Total number of cells in the field of view

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5 Using a stage micrometer and eyepiece graticule make
appropriate measurements to allow you to compare the
size of interphase cells with those that are undergoing
cytoplasmic division. Comment on your finding.

6 Explain how you ensured, or could ensure, that the


results are reliable and valid.

7 Explain the safety precautions taken during this


practical.

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8 The cellulose walls of plant cells are held together by a
cement called the middle lamella. Treatment with
hydrochloric acid breaks this down. Why is this helpful in
your preparation?

9 You may have found few dividing cells in your root tip(s).
Suggest possible reasons.

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3.2 Totipotency and plant tissue culture

Plant tissue culture refers to the growth of individual cells or as


in this case, organs, on an artificial medium. In this practical you
will take the tops of plant seedlings and grow them into
complete plants on agar. With most plant species this could take
many weeks, but you will use ‘rapid-cycling’ plants. (These are
plants which grow and complete their life cycles quickly, not
those that are speedy on a bike!) Over a week or two you should
see the explants (the parts of the seedlings you removed) grow
new leaves, a new stem and more leaves, and even new roots and
flower buds.

Plant tissue culture is used in industry to develop improved


plant and food crop species, increase the disease resistance of
plants and encourage plants to produce increased quantities of
phytochemicals used in drugs.

Some of these steps may have been done for you. In this case
start where your teacher indicates.

You will need:


• Seeds of white mustard (Sinapsis alba) or rapid-cycling brassica (Brassica rapa)
• Agar
• Distilled water
• Damp sponge
• Cling film
• Short-necked test tubes or McCartney bottles
• Weighing scales
• Small plastic tray or lunchbox
• 250 ml beaker
• Glass rod
• Paper towels or ‘oven gloves’
• Scissors
• Wax pencil / permanent pen
• Access to Bunsen etc.
• Access to light bank or sunny windowsill

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Method:

1 Sprinkle some seeds of white mustard or rapid-cycling


Brassica onto a damp sponge places in a plastic tray. Cover
with transparent cling film and place in a warm, light place to
germinate. When the seedlings have just started to unfold
their cotyledons (seed leaves) they are ready to culture.

2 Measure out 2.5g of agar powder and add to 250cm3 of


distilled water. Boil and stir gently with a glass rod until the
agar dissolves.

3 Whilst the agar is still molten, pour about 2cm depth into
several short-necked test tubes or McCartney bottles. Allow
to solidify. apex
cotyledons
4 With a sharp pair of scissors cut
the tops off the seedlings just
below the shoot apex (growing hypocotyl

tip) as shown in the diagram.


These are the explants. Leave
sponge
the hypocotyls (the early stem)
and roots behind on the sponge
Removing the top of the seedling with sharp scissors

5 Carefully push the cut end of each explant into the agar. Put
one explant into each test tube or bottle. Make sure the
cotyledons do not touch the agar.

6 Cover the tubes with cling film. On each tube or bottle write
your name and the date. Place the tubes in a rack under a
light bank or on a sunny windowsill. Do not open the tubes
again.

7 Observe the progress of your explants daily for ten days and
record when anything of note develops. You will need to pop in
at break / lunch on some days to do this.

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Results:

Day Observation

10

Questions:

1 What, if anything, would you expect the explants to obtain


from the agar?

2 Why is it advised you use short-knecked test tubes or


McCartney bottles? If you only had long-necked test tubes
what should you do?

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3 Why should you cover the tubes with cling film?

4 Why should you not open the tubes up again once you have set
them up?

5 Suggest what measurements could be made as the explants


grow

6 Explain why the explants can grow and develop new leaves,
stem and roots

7 You could extend this experiment by just growing the shoot


apex (no cotyledons), or isolated cotyledons on their own, and
comparing your results with growing the shoot
apex/cotyledons together. What further information would
you gain by doing this?

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4.1 The strength of plant fibres

In this activity you will extract the fibres from nettles and
then test their strength. ‘Fibres’ have been extracted from
plant stems for centuries and used in the commercial
manufacture of a wide range of textiles and paper. The term
‘fibres’ does not just refer to the sclerenchyma but is used to
describe a range of ‘fibre-like’ structures. These plant fibres
have been used for different purposes, as indicated in the
table. Their use is dependent on their properties.

Fibre Useful part of the plant Applications

Flax Stem of flax plant Linen for clothing


Cotton Hairs on the seeds on plant belonging to the Cotton for clothing
mallow family
Hemp Fibres from the stem/leaves of the hemp plant Used for ropes, backing for carpets
Coir Fibre from the husks of the fruit of the coconut Floor coverings, ropes
Jute Fibre from the stem of the jute plant Hessian, sacking and carpets
Manila Hard fibres from the leaves of a type of banana Marine cables and other ropes, nets and matting
Pulp Softwood trunks Paper, cardboard

Fibres can be removed from plant stems by retting. This can be done
by either field retting or water retting.

Field Retting:

Plant stems are cut or pulled up and left in the field to rot; microbial
action breaks down the stalks.

Water Retting:

Stems are cut or pulled up and immersed in water to rot; microbial


action breaks down the stalks. This process produces more uniform,
higher quality fibres, but is more expensive and produces nitrogen-
rich waste water that must be treated before discharge.

In both kinds of retting, bacteria and fungi breaks down the soft
tissues of the stems leaving the cellulose intact. It is them relatively
easy to remove the cellulose-rich fibres.

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You need to know about the retting process. However, it is time-
consuming and very smelly. Therefore, for these reasons we are
going to do a simpler practical!

Method:


You will need:

Celery stems
Retort stand & clamp
10g and 50g masses

1. Carefully remove a fibrous string from a celery stem.

2. Check the string to ensure that it is of constant diameter


down its entire length (look for tears and thin sections)

3. Tie one end of the string to the clamp

4. Record the length of the hanging string

5. Add 20g and record the length of the string

6. Repeat step 5 until the string breaks.

Results:

Mass Added / g Start length / cm End length / cm Extension / cm


0
40
80
120
160
200
240
280
320
360
400
440
480
520

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Graph:

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Questions

1 What is the structure of cellulose?

2 Why is cellulose such a strong molecule?

3 Is the string perfectly elastic? Explain your answer

4 Does the diameter of the string make a difference?

Extension 1: Apply Hooke’s law (F = kx) to this practical to work out


the spring constant for cellulose.

Extension 2: aside from strength, what other properties does


cellulose have that make it a useful molecule to plants?

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4.2 Investigating plant mineral deficiencies

The following equipment will be available:


• a range of nutrient solutions, including • Geramium plants
solutions with: • Cotton wool
– all nutrients present • Aluminium foil
– lacking nitrogen • Standard laboratory equipment
– lacking phosphate
– lacking potassium
– lacking magnesium
– lacking calcium
– lacking all nutrients

Method:

A series of Geranium plants have been grown in solutions lacking


nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, magnesium, calcium and all
nutrients. A control plant has also been grown for comparison.

Measure the height of the plants and make notes on the appearance
of each plant.

Nutrient Height / cm

No NO3-

No PO42-

No K+

No Mg2+

No Ca2+

No
Nutrients

Control

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Nutrient Observation

No NO3-

No PO42-

No K+

No Mg2+

No Ca2+

No
Nutrients

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Questions

1 What do plants use Nitrate for?

2 What do plants use Phosphate for?

3 What do plants use Potassium for?

4 What do plants use Magnesium for?

5 What do plants use Calcium for?

6 What was the purpose of the control plant?

Extension: Can you think of a more accurate method of measuring


growth than recording the height of the plants?

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Notes and Comments:

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4.3 The antimicrobial properties of plants

Plants are susceptible to infection by bacteria and fungi; they


do everything to repel such attacks. Several plants are known
to, or thought to, destroy or inhibit the growth of certain
bacteria. A plant with this property is known as antimicrobial.
Chemicals in their cells are toxic to bacteria or interfere with
their metabolism in some other way. You can probably guess
why there is mint in toothpaste, but would garlic be better?
Mint may numb our gums but is it lethal to bacteria? In this
activity you will investigate whether two plants contain
antimicrobial chemicals and how effective they are by looking at
the growth of bacteria on agar plates.

You will need:


• Agar plate seeded with bacteria • Sterile Petri dish
• Plant material (garlic cloves and mint leaves) • Sterile forceps
• Pestle and mortar • Tape
• 10 cm3 industrial denatured alcohol • Marker pen
• Pipette (sterile) • Incubator set at 25 °C
• Paper discs (e.g. Whatman antibiotic assay paper discs)

Method:

1 Agar plates seeded with E.coli bacteria need to be prepared

2 Using a pestle and mortar crush ~3g of garlic with ~10cm3 of


ethanol.

3 Using a pipette repeatedly dab a sterile paper disc with


ethanol solution from the crushed garlic. After each dab,
wait a few seconds for the ethanol on the disc to evaporate
before repeating. By doing this slowly, you build up garlic on
the filter paper.

4 Repeat steps 2 & 3 for mint

5 Prepare a disc soaked in deionized water and a disc soaked in


dettol. Obtain pre-prepared discs soaked in antibiotic from
the teacher

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6 Leave all discs for 10min to dry out

7 Use sterile forceps to place each disc onto a bacterial plate.


Maximum of 3 discs per plate. On the lid, draw a circle
around the disc and label it with according to what the disc is
soaked in.

8 Close each Petri dish and tape it as shown in the diagram. Do


not tape all round the dish as this can promote the growth of
anaerobic bacteria.

9 Write your name onto the dish and place in the incubator for
24hrs at 25°C

10 Observe the plates without opening them. Measure the


diameter of the clear circles of dead bacteria. Use two other
sets of results from the class to act as repeats.

11 Do not throw the plates away. They need to be autoclaved.

Results:

Disc Width 1 / cm Width 2 / cm Width 3 / cm Average / cm

Dettol

Water

Mint

Garlic

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Graph:

Trends & Analysis:

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Questions

1 What is an autoclave?

2 What is a bacterial lawn? Why is one important?

3 Why do schools use E. coli bacteria?

4 Why is ethanol used as a solvent when crushing the garlic & mint?

5 What is agar? Where does it come from? Why is it used as a


nutrient medium?

Extension: What is antibiotic resistance? Why is it a problem and


how are bacteria able to transfer it so quickly?

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Notes & Comments:

Make notes on the aseptic techniques you and your teacher are
using during this practical. You could be asked about these in your
AS exams!

Aseptic Technique Notes

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Core Practical Revision
There will definitely be at least one question on each AS paper
about a core practical. Questions tend to fall into two categories;

1. Outline a method you could use to test… (i.e. write out the
method for a core practical).

2. Analyze data from a practical…

The second type of question relies both on your ability to think like
a scientist on the spot and also on your working knowledge of the
theory behind each practical, so make sure you know exactly why
the IV causes the DV to change as it does.

The first type of question is more difficult. However, there are


always marks available for the following;

1. Specific Procedure or Method


2. Specific Equipment
3. Safety & Risk
4. Controlled Factors you kept constant
5. A Control for comparison
6. Repeats & taking an Average
7. Stated Range

One way of remembering this is the mnemonic MERC CAR, like this
one

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As you progress through the year try why not fill out the blank
revision cards below? That way you have a complete record of what
you need to learn in the summer before the summer!

One final comment for you to think about:

If you miss any of the Core Practicals this year it is


imperative that you catch up the work you have missed.
Arguably, they are more important than the theory you
complete in class because you know for certain that at
least one practical will appear on each paper, so each
practical has (in theory) ~ 1 in 4 chance of coming up.

See… important!

1.1 - The effect of caffeine on heart rate


Method:

Equipment:

Risks:

Controlled factors:

Control for comparison:

Average:

Range:

Additional Notes:

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1.2 - The vitamin C content of fruit juice
Method:

Equipment:

Risks:

Controlled factors:

Control for comparison:

Average:

Range:

Additional Notes:

2.1 - The effect of temperature on membranes


Method:

Equipment:

Risks:

Controlled factors:

Control for comparison:

Average:

Range:

Additional Notes:

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2.2 - Enzyme concentration and rate of reaction
Method:

Equipment:

Risks:

Controlled factors:

Control for comparison:

Average:

Range:

Additional Notes:

3.1 - Observing mitosis


Method:

Equipment:

Risks:

Controlled factors: none

Control for comparison: none

Average:

Range: none

Additional Notes:

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3.2 - Totipotency and plant tissue culture
Method:

Equipment:

Risks:

Controlled factors: none

Control for comparison: none

Average:

Range: none

Additional Notes:

4.1 - The strength of plant fibres


Method:

Equipment:

Risks:

Controlled factors:

Control for comparison:

Average:

Range:

Additional Notes:

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4.2 - Investigating plant mineral deficiencies
Method:

Equipment:

Risks:

Controlled factors:

Control for comparison:

Average:

Range:

Additional Notes:

4.3 - The antimicrobial properties of plants


Method:

Equipment:

Risks:

Controlled factors:

Control for comparison:

Average:

Range:

Additional Notes:

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