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Lauren Dattilo

Class: AP Biology

Teacher: Mrs. Schulte

Experiment #: 2

Date of Experiment: 12/13 and 12/14

Title: The effect of a solution on the water potential of a cell.


The simplest form of movement is diffusion in which a solute moves from an area of high

concentration to an area of lower concentration without the us of energy. Water moves through

cellular membranes by diffusion, this is called osmosis. Similar to solutes, water moves from an

area of high water potential to an area of lower water potential. A solution having a high water

potential will then have a low solute potential and the same goes for the opposite, a low water

potential would mean a high solute potential. In simpler terms, a cell submerged in a solution

with a high water potential, meaning there is more water in the solution outside the cell, solute

will move out of the cell and water will move into the cell bringing the cell back to a state of


In this lab, we conducted experiments to further understand osmosis and diffusion while

testing of hypothesis that if we placed a cell in these solutions, the cell will gain water. In

procedure two we created mock cells using dialysis tubing and submerged them inside other

solutions while measuring the weight. By measuring the weight of the “cell” we were able to

measure the amount of water moving inside and outside the cell. In procedure 3 we studied the

impact of the solutions on actual plant cells. We used microscopes to study the effects after

submerging an ​Elodea​ plant in each of the solutions. Lastly we conducted our own experiment

(procedure 4) to test if we were able to determine the amount of sucrose in a solution by just

measuring the weight of a potato before and after being submerged for 25 minutes.
Materials and Equipment Used

Procedure 2

● Distilled or tap water

● 1 M sucrose

● 1 M NaCl

● 1 M glucose

● 5% ovalbumin (egg white protein)

● 20 cm- long dialysis tubing (may need more)

● Cups

● Balances

● Timer

Procedure 3

● Microscope

● Elodea

● Glass slides

● Slide covers

● Distilled or tap water

● Sucrose

● NacL

● Glucose

● 5% ovalbumin (egg white protein)

Procedure 4

● Four 100 mL solutions with unknown concentrations of sucrose (each solution should be

a different color)

● Four 10 oz beakers

● 1 potato

● knife

● Timer

● Scale

Procedure and methods

Procedure 2

1. Choose up to four pairs of different solutions. One solution from each pair will be in the

model cell of dialysis tubing, and the other will be outside the cell in the cup. Your fifth

model cell will have water inside and outside; this is your control. Before starting, use

your knowledge about solute gradients to predict whether the water will diffuse into or

out of the cell. Make sure you label the cups to indicated what solution is inside the cell

and inside the cup.

2. Make dialysis tubing cells ( we suggest 10 cm long) by tying a knot in one end of five

inches of dialysis tubing. Fill each “cell” with 10 mL of the solution you choose for the

inside, and knot the other end, leaving enough space for water to diffuse into the cell.
3. Weigh each cell, record the initial weight, and then lace it into a cup filled with the

second solution for that pair. Weigh the cell after 30 minutes (we did 20) and record the

final weight.

4. Calculate the recent change in weight using the following formula:

(final - initial)/initial X 100. Record your results.

Procedure 3

1. Start by looking at a single leaf blade from either ​Elodea​ (a water plant) or a leaf

structure from ​Mnium hornum​ (a moss) under the light microscope. If you need

assistance, your teacher will show you how to place the specimens on a slide.

2. Test one of the four solutions from Procedure 2 and find out if what you predicted is what

happens. When you are done, ask other students what they saw. Be sure to record all your

procedures, calculations, and observations.

Procedure 4

1. Have another person prepare four solutions each containing different amounts of sucrose.

They should die each solution a different color in order to be able to tell each solution


2. Cut the potato into five long strips similar to the shape of french fries. Measure the initial

weight of each potato and record it in a table.

3. Submerge the slices of potato in the four solutions for 25 minutes.

4. Remove the potatoes and weigh them recording the new weight in your chart.

Procedure 2

Sucrose Ovalbumin NaCl Glucose

with Glucose with NaCl with Sucrose with Ovalbumin
inside the cell inside the cell inside the cell inside the cell

Initial Weight 11.0g 9.9g 10.7g 6.8g

Final Weight 11.4g 12.5g 10.7g 7.4g

Percent Change 400 2574 0 408

By looking at this date we are able to see that both NaCl and sucrose have around the same the

same amount of water potential and Glucose and Ovalbumin have closely around the same water

potential as well.

Procedure 3

NaCl Sucrose

These cells are slightly swollen These cells have shrunken

Glucose Ovalbumin

These cells have shrunken alot. These cells are slightly shrunken

Procedure 4

Solution A Solution B Solution C Solution D

(clear) (Green) (Blue) (Yellow)

Initial Weight 3.1g 3.9g 4.8g 4.0g

Final weight 3.4g 4.4g 5.1g 4.4g

Percent Change 93 195 144 160

Based on this table we are able to understand that the potatoe gained water after being

submerged. Those with a higher percent change indicate a high increase in the amount of water

added to the potato. This means that the solutions with a higher percent change in water had the

lowest amount of solution.


This experiment reaffirmed the ideology of osmosis in cells. In procedures 2 and 4 you

are able to see a change in the weight of the cell and potato indicating a change in water level.

Procedure 2 helped show that diffusion occurs and can occur with different substances.

As shown in the table above, all the cells had a different final weight than the initial weight

except for the cell containing sucrose that was submerged in NaCl. It was also found that

Glucose and Ovalbumin both had a higher percent change then NaCl and sucrose. It can be

concluded from this data that this means that the two substances, Glucose and Ovalbumin, have a

high water potential because when both substances were outside the cell, high percent of changes


Procedure 3 demonstrated the physical change of what happens when these cells are

submerged. Once again when the cells were submerged in Glucose and Ovalbumin we can see

that these solutions have a high water potential. The cells observed under these two substances

have clearing shrunken. This can be observed due to the lack of a cytoplasm in the cells. The

only cells that seemed to visibly swell was when the leaf was soaked in NaCl a solution that we

proved early to have a fairly low water potential. Overall this procedure helped demonstrate the

physical change in cytoplasm when submerged in solutions with different levels of water


Procedure 4 helped demonstrate that the different levels of solute in a solution can be

determined by the change it has on something for example a potato. When the potato gained
weight we were able to understand that it gained water. This meant that the solution had a higher

water potential concluding to a low solute potential.

Diffusion is a very relevant thing as proven but it would be interesting to further test this

concept. Instead of just weighing the changed of the cell and potato in procedure 2 and 4, I

would be curious to measure the volume of the outside solution as well. This would help further

prove the conclusions since you would see a decrease in volume if the solution had a high water

potential as well as an increase in weight of the cell.

Background Research

Based on the lab we know alot about diffusion, osmosis, and water potential. In diffusion

we know that the solute moves from an area of high concentration to an area of low

concentration. We know this happens to water as well through the process of diffusion. In

diffusion water moves from an area of high water potential to an area of low water potential.

Water potential is the amount of pressure potential plus the solute potential.

Upon further research, as found in science classified, we know that cell walls help

prevent a cell from bursting. When the cell membrane creates enough pressure from being

pushed up against the cell wall, this prevents any more water from entering the cell. All in all

osmosis is important in maintaining homeostasis and keeping the cells in a optimal environment

for there survival.


Osmosis. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2018, from (n.d.). Retrieved January 12,

2018, from